Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's All About Food Porn

I've been asked why I'm not a food critic, and my answer to that is you have to be critical to be a critic. Remember those two sub-par Mickey's hot dogs I ate? Yeah, I talked a whole bunch of smack, but I ate both of them all the same. Then again, a movie critic has to sit through a shitty movie in order to write a review, so perhaps I have a future in being a food critic, after all.

Last night I had a fabulous dinner with my homegirl, code name El Camino. The critic in me always wants to see the best in every food I eat, and Isabella's on Oak Park Avenue didn't disappoint. Isabella's is such a chick place, it's unreal. I mean, the food is always good, and it's got a nice little ambiance to it. Nevertheless, I rarely see men there, and that's just fine with me. It could be a cute date place, but I know Ken won't find shit to eat on the menu, and I'd rather just go with my girls, so there you have it.

We started off with glasses of bubbly, because it's my favorite ever, and I'm almost embarrassed to say that the reason for dinner was yet another Happy Birthday to Me celebration, so it was a requirement. She and I had a similar vision of what we were looking for for the evening, and as we labored over the menu, we decided to do three appetizers rather than getting entres.

We zeroed in on the sun-dried tomato pesto spread for the bread, the lobster/shrimp/scallop cake and the grilled shrimp. The tomato spread was pureed roasted garlic and tangy sun-dried tomato blended with Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil; it was the perfect appetizer for our appetizers.



The two apps came out together. The grilled shrimp came out on a bed of sweet and sour sauteed red spinach with a cream sauce and the seafood cake, which was larger than a regulation sized hockey puck, came with a tits-and-ass lemon cream sauce and a tomato vinaigrette relish. I've had the shrimp before, and it's consistently good, but I've never had the cake, and it was awesome. The pieces of the lobster, scallop and shrimp were large enough to taste each independently and the caramelized, crispy crust was the perfect texture.



We were smart to get three appetizers instead of dinner, because we had just enough room left in our bellies to have double cappuccinos, biscotti and an amazing coconut chocolate cake that had a fluffy, creamy texture and a dense cocoa base. The crispy toasted coconut topping along with the mousse-like consistency of the filling was amazing. Oh, yum.



So, we finished our fabulous dinner and bid Abraham, the same kick ass waiter we've had almost every time we've been there, a good evening and left, heading southward on Oak Park Avenue. We thought we'd have a nice after dinner drink at one of the many establishments down the street, so we stopped in at Durbin's. It's a nice looking place with an outdoor terrace. There was a band playing inside, so we went into ... the anti-Isabella's.

If Isabella's is the Chick Flick of restaurants, Durbin's, apparently, is the Buddy Flick of restaurant/bars. I'd been there once or twice, we even had my son's christening lunch there. But damn if it wasn't a total sausage party. El Camino and I sat at the end of the bar and shot the shit with Megan, the super cool and muy adorable bartender that had just started that day. We commented on the disproportionate amount of men in the joint, and she said, "You should see it on Thursdays."

It was a great night out. El Camino and I had the best of both worlds: delicate and tasty treats at Isabella's and live music at Durbin's, AKA, Sausage Central. Ladies, if you're looking for great food, go to Isabella's. If you're looking for dudes, go to Durbin's. Stay tuned for more installments of Food Porn is Fun. I'll cover everything I eat in detail for your vicarious pleasure and to offer you suggestions of where to go and what to avoid if you're looking for food and fun in Chicago's southwest suburbs.

5 comments:

Jude said...

Food,wonderful food,marvelous food,we love our food!! Sung in unison....

Nora said...

Or, the old standard:

We want food!

We want food!

theeriver said...

I've actually been to Isabella's for lunch,yes with girls. And it's definately an awesome quaint place that would be an awesome date place.

Durbins is actually one of my second homes. I usually haunt there late night on the weekend. They have DJ's there on the weekend to get your groove on.

Megan is a sweety if it's my red headed 3rd cousin twice removed. The Mcauliffe's own the place, and by wierd twist of fate I'm related to them. Their good people, and if you say River sent you, you get a free glass of water...no ice. :)

Nora said...

River, I haven't been on Oak Park Ave in so long, I totally forgot what it was all about.

If I'm in there again, I'm getting my glass of water.

theeriver said...

The words to describe something as tits-and-ass are not used enough in reviews in my humble opinion.