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Alla Spina

Alla Spina is a casual beer and food spot brought to you by Mark Vetri on N. Broad st. They really like their pigs here, judging by all the pig art in the place! Oh, and there’s also lots of pig parts on the menu. It’s also right around the corner from Route 6, Stephen Starr’s seafood joint. They’re trying to create a bit of a restaurant scene up on that section of Broad, so here’s wishing them some luck. There’s outdoor dining, weather permitting, and it’s nice and open and not at all stuffy. It really is a nice and casual place. 
Can you get more casual than pretzels? These are housemade pretzel bites with spicy beer cheese. See the cute little pig they get served in? I liked these quite a bit… warm and doughy!

You’re not in canada, but they serve their own version of poutine here. It’s served with a guinea hen leg bolognese and mozzarella curd. I wasn’t too crazy about the bolognese part. But the fries were good. 
Maple glazed fried chicken and fries! There was so much, E took plenty of it home as leftovers. There are those tasty fries again.
I had the fancy grilled cheese, with taleggio and roasted red peppers, served with green tomato conserva and homemade potato chips. Yum! That green tomato conserva stuff is amazing! I want to put it on everything now. And the roasted red peppers inside the grilled cheese was a nice touch.
While we were eating, we saw all the tables getting soft serve vanilla ice cream. It confused us a little bit. Then we found out that it was actually fiordelatte soft serve, not just plain vanilla ice cream, not like the thing you would get at McDonald’s. The flavor itself is more of a sweet cream. We got a bowl of it along with the famed donut bread pudding. The bread pudding was delicious, but I could have certainly gone without the raisins in it. The fiordelatte was also creamy and dreamy. This was a fun spot. Service was good and the food came out quickly. Although it’s a bit further away from the action of the city, but it’s kind of like a retreat from all the hustle and bustle.
Alla Spina on Urbanspoon

Ditka’s – Chicago

Our second team dinner was at Ditka’s Restaurant. Yes, that Ditka.
It’s primarily a steak spot. Also, there’s lots of drinking. And plenty of TV’s for sports watching.
We ordered a bunch of oysters to start. These suckers were huge, like they were on steroids!
The angus prime rib. It is heavy aged and slow roasted, served with burgundy mushrooms, horseradish cream, and au jus.

The tomahawk! It was a special that night and beyond expensive. Look how caveman this thing is!
The filet, 8 oz. of center cut prime.
The Filet Medallions – 3 Ways. We have horseradish, blue cheese, and oscar styles.
I was the lone weirdo who did not get a steak. Yeah, at a steak house. Whatever. I got the Blackened Mahi Mahi. There were two healthy sized hunks of grilled fish with two different sauces – cilantro pesto and smoked tomato. Oh, and a bunch of mixed rice. I loved this! I liked both sauces but definitely preferred the smoked tomato. The rice was also a winner.
We also got a few sides to share. The truffle fries were kind of amazing! The sweet corn dish with cheese was even better. It was sweet, it was sour, it was awesome.
The smashed sweet potatoes with bacon was also good. I am a huge fan of all their sides!
Last but not least, we all ended up sharing this giant piece of chocolate cake. Oh, it was delicious, and there was still some left over.
Also, earlier in the trip, I went and had some pierogi at Pierogi Heaven. These were, by far, the best pierogi I’ve ever had. I tried potato with cheese and sauerkraut. They’re served with bacon and lovely sweet caramelized onions. I imagine they’re just like your polish grandmother would make!
Mike Ditka's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ladder 15 Burger

Every time I passed Ladder 15 during the day, I’d say to myself “oh, that’s where Ladder 15 is”. Every time I passed Ladder 15 during the night on a weekend, I’d shudder and run past it as quickly as possible. It’s as if it has dual personalities. I wanted to go and check out their burgers, which have been raved about. So on an early evening on a sunday night, we ventured in. It’s fairly quiet on such a day.
K got the classic burger with bacon. It’s made of prime sirloin, comes on a tall brioche bun, and is served with delicious fries.
I came for the Burger 15. In addition to said prime sirloin and the same brioche bun, it’s topped with a ragu of short rib, mushrooms, onions, marrow, and a truffle sauce. Man alive, this thing was tasty. But not necessarily tasty in a burger way. To me, it was more akin to a hot roast beef sandwich or something. It was just so darn wet, with all the dripping short rib and everything. The juices essentially disintgrated the bottom bun, so I was really left with a whole bunch of innards and a half soggy top half. I don’t like mushrooms, but I barely tasted any here. I really didn’t taste much onion either, now that I think about it. But I certainly tasted lots of wet, shredded short rib, along with the actual burger bit. It was really great, but I can’t compare it to a regular burger. Point is, I liked it! And their fries are darn good too.
But the real mystery at Ladder 15 is why do they put water ice cones on top of all the bottles of booze? Service was ok. The food took quite awhile to come out. But I blame that on us both wanting our burgers medium well. I know, it’s sacrilegious, but I just can’t do bloody burgers! With these burgers being good, I really want to try the tuesday night prix fixe now!

Ladder 15 on Urbanspoon

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