French Chicago

IMG_1351Outfit Details:

Canada Goose Kensington ParkaLouis Vuitton Neverfull in GM, Leopard scarf purchased on Portobello Road in London (similar here and here), Banana Republic quilted leather driving gloves from last season (similar here and here), Theory sweater, Adrienne Landau fur vest, Rag and Bone pants with leather insets (similar on sale here), Madewell riding boots (on sale!)

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Although I didn’t venture overseas to France until I was 23, my appetite for French cuisine and culture had been thoroughly whetted through my exposure to a bevy of authentic French restaurants, introductions to French chefs, and trips to the Chicago Art Institute to marvel over their vast impressionist collection. I was smitten with French culture long before I ever step foot at Charles de Gaulle.

Although I moved away from Chicago when I was 10 years old to live with my father, I went back often to visit my mother and my extended family from both sides who still reside there. Chicago is a marvelous city (especially during the months of May-October!) and has such a wealth of French gems to uncover. If you find yourself in the Windy City (named in fact for its politicians, not for its weather as most people think), I invite you to explore some of these phenomenal eateries for a taste of France.

Mon Ami Gabi is situated right across from the Lincoln Park Zoo, this classic French bistro is cozy and convivial. Their menu boasts a treasure trove of classic French dishes that you might not find at some of the newer and trendier French restaurants plus all of the classics you could imagine. If you’re craving steak frite, look no further.

Bristo Zinc is a perfect lunch spot for a quiche Lorraine and a mimosa, my mother and I often lunched here during our shopping trips around Michigan Avenue.

Le Bouchon is located in Wicker Park and is a shoebox of a restaurant that feels so authentic, it’s as though you wandered in after strolling along Canal Saint-Martin. Pop in for the French onion soup, escargots, and a glass of burgundy. Stay for the seasonal specials featuring fresh from the farm ingredients.

Bistro Margot in Old Town is one of my most frequented Chicago brunch locales due to its excellent location, cozy interior, and reliably perfect Eggs Benedict. If you’re craving lighter fare, I highly recommend the Lyonnaise salad.

La Sardine and Le Bouchon share the same owners and I like to think of Le Sardine as the chic sister. Situated just off of trendy Randolph, La Sardine is a superb date restaurant and also fun with a group.  On Mondays, bottles of wine are half-price. The queue de boeuf (braised oxtail and gnocchi) and salade de homard (lobster salad) are not to be missed. Pop into the Soho House for an after dinner drink!

Everest is the kind of restaurant you go to celebrate your engagement (we did!) or some other very special occasion. From its location on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Everest offers sweeping views of the city. Chef Joho will take you on an adventure through sophisticated French dining with delectable dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.

Nellcôte is a modern French restaurant named for the French villa where the Rolling Stones recorded “Exile On Main Street” and is just as chic and vibrant as it should be. Situated on Randolph Street, the menu — created by Chef Jared Van Camp — features European-inspired, rustic small plates made with Midwestern ingredients.

Fig & Olive‘s fare is inspired by the south of France with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. With beautiful views of historic Oak street, warm and chic sofas to dine at, an open kitchen and crostini station, it’s a uniquely delicious dining experience. I highly recommend the fig and prosciutto tarte baked to perfection with roasted tomatoes and apropos figs.

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Bon appétit mes amis!

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