Daisies: An Orchestra of Distinct Midwestern and Central European Flavors
Neighborhood: Logan Square
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★1/2
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★1/2
Overall Rating: ★★★★1/2
- Drink: Rosé
- Fried mushrooms & cheese curds
- Drink: Bloody Mary
- Fried Pierogi with Apple Butter
- Sunchoke latke/smoked whitefish/pickled red onion
- Scrambled egg bruschetta/black truffle ricotta/parm
I was really impressed with Daisies especially considering how new this place is when I first tried it in August. I was sad to see Analogue go but mainly because I liked the aesthetic/drinks, the food was a little too heavy for my tastes. I had heard good things about Daisies from friends so I was excited to try it and it lived up to my expectations for dinner. I went back there for brunch and it wasn’t as polished as their dinner, but there were still some remarkable flavors. The atmosphere was wonderful for an intimate friend dinner, date, and group dinner. It has a cozy feel to it with hints of modernity. The hosts were very friendly and when I left my umbrella there they took the effort to call me and let me know I did, which was very kind. Our server was also very helpful, thorough, and excited about the menu options. I do appreciate/value the fact that everything there is made locally whether it’s their homemade pasta or locally sourced produce. Everything tasted absolutely delicious and fresh. They also have high quality vegetarian/pescatarian options that don’t feel like an afterthought.
I will first tell you about my dinner journey at Daisies and then we’ll get to brunch. For dinner, my friend and I started off with the Fried Mushrooms and Cheese Curds appetizer with a buttermilk tarragon and it was amazing!! They were very unique and creative in their approach to fried mushrooms and cheese curds. I was expecting something heavy and guilt-provoking, but it was not heavy at all. The breading was perfect, a very light panko-esque breading that I can’t really describe that had dill and a hint of parmesan. The cheese curds were absolutely mouth-watering. I usually don’t like buttermilk but this buttermilk tarragon was refreshing and tasty. It was also the perfect portion for us.
Then, the pastas came out in cute bowls and were very nicely presented. We ordered the Pappardelle and Agnolotti which paired perfectly with my glass of rosé. Both were delicious and fulfilling in multiple ways. The Pappardelle pasta texture was absolutely perfect and it tasted so fresh, one of my favorite pastas I have had in a long time! The Pappardelle with the mushroom ragu had a delightful umami-tomato flavor. I would have liked there to be a bit more mushrooms though with the sauce but overall everything went so well together and it complemented the Agnolotti perfectly. The Agnolotti had a whole different set of flavors. The Agnolotti pasta was delicious and fresh like the Pappardelle. It was made in a beet sauce with dill and a smoked trout roe which was absolutely mouth-watering and I am not even that into sweet flavors but the saltiness of the dill and smoked trout roe balanced out the sweetness of the beets. I would have liked for there to be more of the trout roe but it was still very satisfying. The pastas were also the perfect portion for two people and I did not feel bloated like I usually do after eating pasta.
My brunch experience was good, but I came with very high expectations after being highly impressed with their dinner. I started out with a bloody of course as I am a big fan of salty, tomato juice. Their Bloody Mary had a complex flavor with a decent spice to it. It didn’t come with many fixings but the mix itself tasted delicious.
I was there for a celebration with a larger group of people so I got to try more of their appetizers! What I appreciate about their brunch menu is that it has unique items, especially for the appetizers. There’s a Central/Eastern European vibe to it, which I don’t see on many menus. We started off with the Fried Pierogi with Apple Butter, which was crunchy and stuffed with what I thought to be ricotta cheese, but it was a soft, mild cheese, which brought out the apple butter flavor very well. I am not in love with nut butters, but this apple butter was remarkable. However, I am a huge fan of smoked fish so I was very excited to try the Sunchoke latke with the smoked whitefish and pickled red onion. It was a savory delight. The smoked whitefish was subtle but still had a prominent smokiness to it. The latke paired excellently with the whitefish spread and tasted very fresh. The pickled red onions added a lovely textural finish to the softer textures. Onions and smoked fish are always a match made in heaven.
When it comes to brunch favorites, a Vegetarian Eggs Benedict is always a go to of mine. So we ordered the Eggs Benedict with a biscuit and mustard hollandaise sauce with mushrooms and leek. I was blown away by the mustard hollandaise. It had mustard seeds and a creamy texture, which just melted in my mouth. The mushrooms were sautéed well with the leeks adding another nice umami, savory flavor to the Eggs Benedict. The biscuit was flaky and soft, which was a nice change from the typical English Muffin served with Eggs Benedict. The only issue was that the eggs were not poached and were soft boiled instead so it didn’t have that delicious egg yolk runniness I was looking forward to. It was still a lovely dish. The Scrambled egg bruschetta with a black truffle ricotta and parmesan sounded very promising on the menu because you can’t go wrong with truffle, but it was a bit of a boring dish, especially compared to everything else we had. It was basically scrambled eggs on toast with a hint of truffle flavor and the ricotta was scrambled with the eggs giving it a creamy texture, but the flavors were not very pronounced. The freshly grated parmesan added a nice textural finish to it, but it didn’t save the dish. There could have been more done with it, it needed something else. Perhaps they are still working out some kinks with their brunch menu.
I do look forward to coming back here and trying more of their dinner menu and I would just come back there for their Mustard Hollandaise sauce and Smoked Trout Latke for brunch. While Logan Square has quite the selection of delicious pasta, Daisies stands out because of their locally sourced ingredients and unique pasta pairings. Where can you find cheese curds, smoked trout and pasta on the same menu…only at Daisies!
Table, Donkey, and Stick: A Taste of Old World Europe in a Quaint Setting
Neighborhood: Logan Square
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★1/2
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★1/2
Food Quality: ★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★
- Drink: Cabernet Franc
- Small Plates:
- Bread and cheese plate
- Potato latkes
- Soft Shell Crab
- Large Plate:
- Vegetarian Bread Dumplings
With a name like Table, Donkey, and Stick, you might wonder what in the world is going on in this small restaurant with an unassuming, yet endearing exterior. The interior is as rustic as the exterior. It is dimly lit with a welcoming bar where you can see some of the chefs in action through a narrow window. As you walk through the interior of the restaurant, you are taken to a brighter backroom with expansive windows and an outdoor garden area. Since it’s a smaller restaurant, it is good to make reservations ahead of time, which is what we did since we went on a Friday night.
Our server had some pizzazz, basically the feel of a typical Logan Square server. Table, Donkey, and Stick has a decent cocktail and vast wine menu so whatever you’re feeling, you should be able to find. I had a glass of the Cabernet Franc. I think a complex red wine goes perfectly with the hearty kind of food served at Table, Donkey, and Stick.
They have a small plates concept so be prepared to spend a bit of money as it is on the pricier end of dining. We ordered a few small plates and then a large plate. We ordered the Spanish cheese, which was aromatic and pungent, like how cheese should be. The cheese plate came with their local honey and walnuts. We also ordered their bread on the side because how can you have a cheese plate without bread? I was a bit salty about having to pay for extra bread on top of a cheese plate, but the bread was really delicious. It was basically a French baguette and was warm and crusty.
We also started with the Yukon Gold Potato Latkes, which were basically little potato latke tots. They were perfectly crispy, salty, and the roasted garlic aioli it came with added a savory softness to the dish. Sometimes aioli can be thick and intense, but this aioli had a perfect balance of thickness and oil and wasn’t overwhelming.
To continue our savory journey, we ordered the Soft Shell Crab served with an herbaceous pesto, a generous serving of dill, and grilled pearl onions. The soft shell crab made eating the crab extremely easy, no mess involved and the breading was really flavorful and paired seamlessly with the soft shell crab. Even though the sauces had distinct flavors, they all complemented one another in an authentic manner. It was incredibly flavorful.
For the large plate, we ordered the Struklji Bread Dumpling, which was their vegetarian large plate option, though they did have a pescatarian large plate option but since their menu is relatively small, you’re not bathing in a sea of options as a vegetarian. I can’t remember the last time I ate a bread dumpling since there’s usually meat in them, but I was extremely impressed with how innovative and mouthwateringly delicious this dish was. The bread dumplings were served with a yeast butter, remarkable, crispy morel mushrooms, and a crunchy broccoli purée with peas. The flavors were complex and balanced while being the perfect portion since bread dumplings can be heavy.
Table, Donkey, and Stick takes an incredibly innovative approach to Old World European classics. I am excited to see the creative concoctions of new Executive Chef, Justin Moser. Table, Donkey, and Stick continues to add charm and uniqueness to a neighborhood saturated with restaurants.
- For more information, check out my recent article in LoganSquarist about new Executive Chef, Justin Moser.