Around the City and Culinary Dial

By Carmen Schmidt |

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This week on Check, Please! our guest reviewers take us around the city for another culinary adventure with a few sweet delights.

Cue the Spanish guitar, because this week we’re having a fiesta at reviewer Christina Tallarico’s recommended Maya Del Sol. We have featured many Mexican, South American, and Caribbean style restaurants on Check, Please! over the years. However, according to this week’s reviewers, Maya Del Sol is really something special. They take an innovative and eclectic approach to their dishes fusing flavors and ingredients from multiple Hispanic origins to create a truly exciting experience for your taste buds. Next to chocolate, guacamole is a guilty pleasure of mine. I could easily finish off an entire bowl of freshly-made “guac” in one sitting. As reviewer Lisa Jeremias tells us, “Guacamole is guacamole, right? Noooooo...” She discovered a surprisingly delightful crunch of radishes in the guacamole at Maya Del Sol. All of our reviewers agreed their meals were delicious. The drink menu was pretty amazing as well. Add that to the live music on Friday nights and you definitely have a perfect place for a girls’ night out!

Fusion is lots of fun, but sometimes you may have a taste for something more traditional. Reviewer Bill Passmore has us covered with his restaurant Pasta D’Arte, an Italian trattoria. I love the way Bill describes the experience as having a “team of Italian grandmothers trapped in the kitchen, churning out nothing but great dishes!” Italian done right, if you ask me. Chef Mark Giannini has a true passion for serving authentic dishes and keeps to his Italian roots, adding a modern flare here and there. Christina thoroughly enjoyed the surprising combination of caprese, nectarine, and prosciutto with a touch of balsamic. Chef Giannini originally planned to make his restaurant all about the “art of pasta,” but his occasional seafood menu additions became a real hit with his guests. Now, not only can you have fresh seafood, but also homemade sausages and other regional meat dishes that are sure to make any Italian lover smile from ear to ear.

And, we’re off to breakfast again! This week Lisa Jeremias makes us feel good about that first meal of the day at Bakin’ & Eggs on Lincoln Ave in Chicago. As you may already know, I love breakfast, so needless to say I was very jealous when my schedule wouldn’t allow for me to join our crew on this restaurant shoot. The thing that intrigued me the most was what they call the “flight of bacon.” What masterful genius came up with this delectable concept?! Admit it, deep down inside you know that you order the scrambled eggs in order to get the bacon on the side. At Bakin’ & Eggs you can order a selection of five different flavor-cured bacon slices — maple pepper, jalapeño, honey, mesquite, and cherry smoked. Yum! I wouldn’t recommend you do this alone...this is a tasting experience to share with at least one or two friends. And then, just when you think you’ve consumed your calories for the day, they have a pastry case with triple layer whoopee pies. Our reviewers thought they were out of this world. I had to go and try one for myself and, like Christina, I... ate... the... whole... thing!

One last thing to watch out for in this week’s episode. While we usually try to focus on the food and ambiance of our restaurants, we just had to spend a little more time with the owners of Bakin’ & Eggs — the husband and wife team of Bob Hartwig (former French Pastry School instructor) and his wife, Gina (Lovely Bakeshop co-owner). You’ll see and extra spoonful of the passion they have for serving a great meal to their customers.

Happy eating!

Carmen M. Schmidt
Associate Producer, Check, Please!
WTTW