After a long week, and a really long 48 hours of constant rain and flash flooding, the highlight was getting to take our Engagement Photos at iO Chicago, where Frankie has spent many a month training & performing, and I have spent many a night as an audience member! It seemed fitting, and doesn’t Tuggs look the most adorable?! But we were incredibly excited for this day, which has been on the books for over a month and a half! (Thank you Cage + Aquarium & Hadassah for such an amazing experience!)
Afterwards, to really celebrate and have a moment to highlight the occasion, we ventured over to Logan Square for dinner at Daisies restaurant, and WHAT an experience that was! So much so, I couldn’t WAIT to get this out because it was THAT good! But the main thing I appreciated the most was how far out of their way they went to accommodate my mushroom allergy. Above and beyond. Below is a menu created just for me that highlights the dishes that either included mushrooms, or would have potential cross-contamination, which has more recently started becoming a real problem. I have never had a restaurant do this for me before and the courtesy they showed just set the tone for our meal in the best way possible. Once we placed our entire order (3 starters, 3 entrees, and a dessert), we awaited our first dish!
That being said, I didn’t want Frankie or Carly (who was kind enough to be our Tuggs handler during the shoot) to feel limited in what they wanted to try! So, the two of them decided to order the Onion Dip (the potato crisps were fried in the same oil as the mushrooms), and the staff were kind enough to bring me a small serving of the dip with Publican seeded crisp (which had a great balance of savory and sweet, without being too hard or bland, as some whole wheat crackers can sometimes be, but anything from the Publican is naturally going to be delicious)! Again, above and beyond. And the dip was perfectly salty and sweet, really light, almost whipped, and was a total conversation stopper. Oh, and Frankie/Carly mentioned that the potato crisps were perfect, but when they look as fresh as they did on that plate (which was totally clean when they came with the other dishes).
Starter #2: Zucchini a la Plancha, which was surprisingly smoky, but in the most delightful way, and the bite to it was incredibly subtle. And the crunchiness of the pine nuts were a great texture variation! A fantastically warm dish for the changing season!
Starter #3: The “Overpriced” Tomato! The heirloom tomato was rich, buttery, and perfectly ripe, plus tomato and a little salt is like the best thing ever! But the star of this dish was the Publican Sourdough bread underneath of the tomato, and it was out of this world! The bone marrow (basically just a rich, luscious, buttery fat) was liquified, the bread was then toasted in it, topped with balsamic, and then topped/basted with a little more marrow. It melted in our mouths, and it was also the first time that I had been exposed to bone marrow! If I see it on the menu again, I might just try it in its more traditional form (roasted in the bone)! This was not overpriced for the party in your mouth that you get!
Bonus Starter: Butternut Squash “Fall” Salad! Shaved butternut squash, parsley, Parmesan cheese, toasted local pecans, and pumpkin seeds, topped with a brown butter lemon vinaigrette. For a raw salad, it was so complex and flavorful, the butternut squash wasn’t fibrous, the nuts (just slightly toasted) added a really lovely nuttiness, and the parm was the perfect amount of tang and richness! Topped with the brown butter vinaigrette, it just enhanced everything without overpowering the delicate freshness!
Entree #1: Catch of the Day, which was Perch breaded with Rice Krispies! Shocking, I know, but Frankie & Carly said it wasn’t overpowering or too sweet, but rather was a light crispness and kept the fish very moist. Now, I couldn’t eat the fish, but Frankie and Carly both agreed that it was light and flaky! Going above and beyond again for me, not only did they bring out the normal sides with the fish, but served up a small portion for me as well on a separate plate (preventing cross contamination since I couldn’t eat the fish). The creamed corn was sweet and herbaceous, and though I normally don’t really like dill, I’d eat this every day because having the dill cooked down a little makes it less overpowering, and the parsley/spring onion take it to a whole new level.
Entree #2: Amish Chicken. Now, I thought the best chicken I’d had was at Income Tax, but not anymore. The new best bite of chicken is here, at Daisies. That skin was unbelievably light and crispy, and the chicken was so tender. I did feel though that the brat wasn’t entirely equal to the chicken, but still a really yummy bite, but that chicken though? MM MM SO GOOD!!!
Entree #3: Stracci. So the great thing about Daisies is that all of their pasta is handmade in house, and they have gluten free options as well! And the pasta, was light, rich, but not overly filling like some pasta can be. A light decadence if you will. The lamb was super tender, not very gamey, but the broccoli leaves were a new one for me, never having the leaves of a broccoli before, and it was like eating fresh mint, which always pairs well with lamb anyway. A solid fall dish for sure!
Dessert: Kahlua Cake with Blueberries. And finally, because when you go big, you get desset. The cake was incredibly soft, airy, and very moist, even without the Kahlua shot, which we did throw on there to get more of that coffee flavor. The berries added a really lovely freshness, and the glaze was not too sweet like some glazes can be. It was the perfect compliment to the cake, and a fantastic way to end the meal.
And if you can believe it, even though we were sharing everything (well, almost everything) between the three of us, we definitely didn’t feel like we were stuffed. We were simply…full. Full enough to take a nap, but not so full as to be uncomfortable in any way, and what a wonderful feeling that is, to actually get the perfect amount of food! And every bite was so delicious! If you haven’t checked out Daisies yet, you should. It’s become a spot I plan to return to at least once a month so as to make sure I stay on top of all their seasonal menu changes! Oh, and did I mention that Daisies supports locally grown produce and ingredients?! Could this place get any better?! Probably, which is why I will be going back again, and again, and again, and I bet you’ll do the same once you try it! —Cooking Maggie
Daisies: 2523 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647