Chicago Teachers’ Lounge and Eatery: A Neighborhood Spot for Educators and Everyone Else
Neighborhood: Humboldt Park
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Affordability: ★★★ 1/2
Food Quality: ★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★
I am very happy that there is a restaurant/cafe that appreciates educators since they are under-appreciated in our society. Chicago Teacher’s Lounge and Eatery has a very relaxed, unpretentious vibe making it feel like a neighborhood hang-out. Our server was very kind, genuine, and helpful. I would say the cuisine was “New-American” style and quite tasty. They had a decent cocktail and wine list but it was a school night so I wasn’t drinking. Their water has a refreshing lemon flavor to it making me like this place even more! Little details like these definitely elevate the dining experience. They also had cheaper sandwich options (around $13) if you aren’t looking to splurge but also more expensive entrees if you are looking to splurge (around $20).
They had a fair amount of vegetarian and pescatarian options. My friend (who is also an educator) and I started out with an order of the truffle parmesan fries. They were drizzled with a garlic aioli and the truffle flavor was delicious. I would have liked if there was freshly grated parmesan rather than the parmesan powder on there, but it was still wonderful and I couldn’t stop eating it.
For our entrees we ordered the roasted salmon and the cheese ravioli. The roasted salmon was out of this world! The salmon was made to perfection and served with a delicate balsamic reduction over decadent truffle mashed potatoes. The truffle mashed potatoes were heavenly and I still didn’t have enough truffle that night. The roasted vegetables were crispy and went very well with the balsamic reduction. I loved the crunchy texture of the broccoli and cauliflower.
The cheese ravioli was also great in the basil broth. I think this dish could have have been more flavorful though. It had a delicate, light flavor and the basil was not very strong or potent. It had more of a buttery sauce. The ravioli had a wonderful texture and was stuffed with ricotta. It was served with sweet tomatoes, asparagus, and shaved parmesan making it feel like a balanced dish. I wanted to try dessert because they had some excellent choices but alas it was a school night so wasn’t feeling super indulgent.
Overall, this was a wonderful experience and I plan on coming here for their Taco Tuesday! For a place that has only been open for a couple of months, I was impressed with how they had everything under control.
Giant: A Space for all Culinary Appetites
Neighborhood: Logan Square
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
I was a bit weary of this place since I had heard mixed reviews from friends. Some people love it while others deeply dislike it. But I am on the “love this place” team. It has been awhile where I went somewhere and I was truly impressed with literally everything I ate and that happened here at Giant. It’s worth the wait and the prices. I mean many restaurants in Logan Square cost this much and aren’t nearly as good so it’s important to compare prices to other restaurants in the area. But don’t go here if you’re looking for a cheap meal that will fill you up.
We went here on a Saturday night and were sat down after we waited an hour, which was fine because we just got a drink at Best Intentions next store and walked around. The seating is a bit tight like in Europe so it can be a bit awkward on date night when you’re squeezed in between two other couples and one of them is constantly professing their love to one another while you and your date are just obsessing over how delicious the food is. The ambience is pretty and the bathroom was amazing, go to the bathroom! It smelled great because of the candles they had, I really appreciate nice bathrooms in restaurants and bars.
Service was excellent between the hostess, server, bussers, and chefs bringing out the food in their aprons. The menu itself is not very vegetarian friendly – for some reason they add bacon/pancetta in a lot of dishes. Since we eat seafood occasionally, we ate a lot of seafood last night, but they were very accommodating with us not eating meat. I was nervous since higher-end restaurants that are trendy tend to not be very accommodating with making changes but they were. I do think they should have more vegetarian options though.
We both had glasses of rose wine (mine was from Greece) and they went perfectly with the meal. We started off with the fried uni shooters, which were basically an explosion of heavenly flavors in my mouth for thirty seconds. I don’t know what was all in there but there was something that had a creamy, goat cheese type of consistency and I loved it. The cucumber soy salad was a great accompaniment to the shooters. Then we had the sweet and sour eggplant with cashews minus the pancetta. It was absolutely mouth-watering. It was a mixture of Indian/Chinese flavors and their “pita” bread was so garlicky and delicious. It was chilled over the sweet and sour sauce and I couldn’t get enough of it.
After the two smaller plates, we had a lot of delicious pasta. We had the Tomato Sortallini minus the guanciale. When they first brought it out, they accidentally put meat in it but then were very apologetic about it, ended up comping that order and then gave us a free dessert so I can’t really complain. The sauce with the sortallini was amazing. It came with unique, mini tomatoes and pine nuts. They served it with some delicious sesame seed bread that absorbed and complimented the sauce perfectly. The other pasta dish we had was the Saffron Tagliatelle with king crab and chili butter. Wow! The king crab was made perfectly, tasted fresh, and went so well with the chili butter. I couldn’t get enough of this either. There was a bit of parmesan, but nothing too overwhelming since it was a very strong dish. Even though they subtracted meat from some of the dishes, it didn’t feel like they were missing anything. They were perfectly satisfying.
I usually don’t eat dessert, but the desserts looked so good so we ordered the S’morgasbord, which is basically their gourmet version of smores. It was decadent, intense, and delicious! Their graham crackers were the best I’ve ever had and it came with these cute, little oreo cookies over a chocolate souffle. It was really wonderful but we couldn’t finish it. As mentioned earlier, they gave us a free dessert so they gave us the Vanilla Cajetta Ice Cream. I am not a big fan of ice cream but I absolutely loved this. It wasn’t a heavy ice cream at all. The ice cream was coated in this pecan strawberry crust and made into a ball. I actually ended up liking this dessert way more than I expected.
All in all, I had a wonderful experience here and can’t wait to go back. I really enjoyed the environment and how the chefs came out, served the food, and described them thoroughly. They also served the food beautifully.