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Sbraga is the eponymous restaurant of Top Chef winner, Kevin Sbraga. The beautiful open kitchen spot is on the first floor of Symphony House, which until now, has kind of seemed a cursed location for restaurants. Well, I certainly hope Sbraga sticks around. They only do a four course prix fixe, a concept which I am actually a fan of. You get to pick amongst about a handful of choices in each course.
Everything starts with a fresh and warm popover! Delicious and cheesy. But I wasn’t going to make the mistake of eating too much of the popover so that it would affect the other courses. So I exercised some restraint. I merely tasted it and enjoyed my little taste.
The tuna confit with gem lettuce, piquillo, little eggs, in a vinaigrette. Tuna confit is like a very fancy and amped up version of canned tuna.
The famed foie gras soup, worthy of all its fame. It’s poured at the table and is creamy and delicious. Do try it.
The seared scallop with pork belly, watermelon, jalapeno, and tabbouleh. M had never had pork belly before. It melted in his mouth and he became an instant pork belly fan. It was also the best scallop he’d ever had.
Here’s my miso black cod with apple and kimchi. Delicious! But the highlight was that flat leaf looking thing in the middle of it. No idea what it was whatsoever. But it was great. Like a candied leaf.
M was fancy and got the wagyu steak. It also came with fried oysters and a choron sauce.
Check out the bad-ass steak knives they use here!
On the other end of the meat spectrum, I got the meatloaf with potato puree and bacon marmalade. Mmm… this was savory and sweet and delicious. It was an extremely dense meatloaf with a tangy flavor. I cleaned my plate!

M is a chocolate guy so he got the mascarpone, coffee granita, and chocolate. Coffee flavored ice! Cool!
I’m the fruit based dessert person so I got the lemon cremeux with berry jam, mille feuille. So pretty, so tasty, so fun. We both thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Sbraga. The service was great and the food was even better. Cursed location, no more!

Sbraga 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

On A Boat! Dinner On The Philadelphia Belle

Did you know there was a riverboat that cruises the Delaware and you can eat and drink on it? Yeah, me either! I got invited to take a ride on the Philadelphia Belle and sample its cuisine! Who’s going to refuse a ride on a boat, with food? There’s multiple floors, and each has tables and a dance floor. It’s a big boat, and a smooth ride, so don’t worry about getting seasick. I felt great!
It was a beautiful and romantic table setting. Much less romantic is the live band. Ok, basically, it’s a party boat. But not a booze cruise or anything. It’s more like a wedding reception on the water.
And there’s tons to drink! And folks, these drinks are no joke. Despite being on water, nothing is watered down at all. In fact, their drinks are extra strong! Knock back a few of these and you might think there’s waves undulating in that river.
The starter plate was a sampler of sorts. The italian market sampler was a little skewer of roasted tomatoes, mozzarella with basil, olives, and dry sausage. The best part was definitely the mozzarella. The red pepper hummus was good, but the pita it came with was hard and crunchy, and not in a good way. The cute and adorable philly cheesesteak spring roll was good! It was served with a spicy ketchup.Here is the crisp oysters rockefeller with a touch of cream spinach and topped with chipotle cream. These were big and tasty.
The lobster bisque! It was served with a light swirl of tarragon creme fraiche. This was a very respectable bisque.
Let’s move on to the entrees! Here’s the atlantic salmon with roasted vegetable orzo and a tomato-coriander vinaigrette. The salmon was cooked nicely and was a nice and fresh piece of fish, but the sauce was a bit too sweet. And I’m someone that loves sweet!
This is the center-cut filet of beef with asparagus, potato gratin, and a red wine demi-glace. Ooh y’all, this was really good. I mean, I rarely ever just eat a big hunt of steak, but this was so good! The meat was super tender and the sauce went with it perfectly. I could have eaten another one!
Dessert was a little piece of cheesecake and a brownie. So the cheesecake was pretty soft and so-so, but the brownie was great! And you know, I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate or brownies. There’s a live band that plays throughout the evening and you are free to go out and take a look at the view from the boat. On a clear night, the views are quite tremendous. And you’re on a boat! The night I was there, there were a couple of sweet sixteen birthday parties as well as an older birthday. Towards the end, people started dancing, and that’s when it got a little surreal for me. I felt like I was crashing some sweet sixteen parties! But it was a great time and I feel very lucky to have been invited for the ride. Special thanks to H/A for being my event photographer.

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