At the magical corner of Oak Street and Rush, across from Hermès and kitty-corner from Prada, lies Chicago’s own Barneys New York. Perched above with one of the loveliest views in the Gold Coast is Freds at Barneys — the chic eatery I’ve gushed to you about before (time and time and time again).
I’ve told you (confessed to you) before about my dangerous addiction to Freds — I often wonder if their pizzas and the warmth they bring to your heart could solve the high divorce rates in America.
But I digress…
To showcase their new sunset summer dinner menu, Freds invited some of Chicago’s top bloggers for a candlelit dinner by the fire and I was honored to be included. I met up with some of my favorite fashionistas and foodies alike for an evening of delicious food, gorgeous views and excellent fireside conversations.Who can say no to being a friend of Freds after all?
I told you the view was spectacular, even on a rainy evening! You can even sneak a peek at Lake Michigan beyond all the buildings.During cocktail hour we sipped on cocktails as well as some of Fred’s latest juice blends. This is their “Orange is the New Black” concoction, a vibrant mixture of orange, carrot, ginger and turmeric that provided a high-charged boost of energy and vitamins for our feast!We snacked on a gourmet selection of mini truffle grilled cheese sandwiches, stuffed cherry tomatoes and blini with caviar. Everything was positively delicious but especially these delectable blini! After cocktail hour we were seated in our cozy seats right by the fire (the perfect cure for a rainy evening, don’t you agree?).
Each of us were given a personalized menu and a glass of wine to whet our appetites before the first courses were brought out. I had the good fortune of being seated by Jen of Cranberry Tantrums (remember her from our Scottish Ballet video last month?), Lauren of Lakeshore Lady and Sapna of Vegetarian Tourist for the evening and we had so much fun sampling and shooting each dish together. The first course included this stunning Tuna Tartare served on carpaccio cucumbers with pickled ginger. Almost too beautiful to eat!
The texture was soft with that melt-in-your-mouth sensation that makes tartare so sinful. But this was my first tuna tartare with pickled ginger and I loved the sushi play on flavors it brought to the fish.
Yup, I just said raw vegan “cheese”.
I know, I know…
It’s the sort of sentence that usually puts foodies asleep. Or sees them running in terror to cram their mouths full with the rarest brie cheese they can find.
But underestimating these vegan cheese dips would be a TRAGIC mistake! The texture is airy, flavorful and light on the palette. It’s the sort of appetizer you don’t feel painfully full after nor do you feel guilty for indulging in seconds. This right here is healthy comfort food, plain and simple.
And for those of you still terrified at the idea of vegan cheese, make a point to try it soon. You’ll thank me!These beef sliders were also part of the first course and disappeared almost as quickly as the tuna tartare!
Who doesn’t love a mini hamburger in summer? Served with tomatoes and pickles these are simple crowd-pleasers executed to perfection. Simple food done without too much thought will never go out of style!But then came these babies…
One of my favorite items on the menu…
Fred’s sinful Truffle Pomme Frites!Served with Freds’ dangerously delicious trio of sauces: fresh mayo (a European classic!), simple ketchup, and “french fry” sauce (a beautiful marriage of mayo and ketchup cut with a little zing for flavor) these fries are some of the best in the city. I make a point to order them every time I eat here. They have a rich potato flavor, are fried to a golden, crunchy perfection and are then infused with a deep truffle flavor.
Yup, you’re going to get addicted too!For our entrée course we sampled several of Freds’ newest pizzas! I’ve warned you before how dangerously addicting a Freds pizza can get and their newest offerings have escalated that warning into a full-on red alert!!
I mean just look at these sexy pies!This is the Farmers Market Pizza with mushrooms, zucchini, spring onions, garlic, and local goat cheese. A rich, earthy flavor that sings of spring and summer!The Ba Da Bing Pizza with crumbled Italian sausage and roasted peppers — Chef Strausman’s pizza pie homage to NYC. Rich, meaty and robust like any good sausage pizza should be. And last, but certainly not least was this incredible Bugsy’s Pizza with black mission figs, carmelized onion and blue cheese. A complex blend of unique flavors that really marry together beautifully.A trio of dangerously delicious pizzas that each evoke the fresh flavors and produce of the summer season… my “bikini body” is in serious trouble! We also enjoyed these Focaccia Robiola with truffle oil, stuffed with Italian cream cheese. A brilliantly salty, creamy, crusty compilation that reminded me of my favorite taleggio-stuffed focaccia at avec. We also enjoyed this delicious Vegan Salad which deserved a WAY nicer shot than this one I snapped between mouthfuls.
It consisted of a heaping mixture of heirloom beans, garbanzos, black quinoa and brunoise of carrot, celery, and onion over wild arugula, radicchio, and endive, all topped with chopped avocado and tossed with salsa verde vinaigrette.
What a descriptive and LITERAL mouthful! This salad was tangy, sweet, savory, salty — I’d never have noticed it was vegan if we hadn’t been told several times by the staff. It’s so beautifully rich and flavorful — the perfect healthy salad for those actually hoping to avoid the pizzas in an attempt to keep their bikini bodies.
First we began with this creamy, rich Italian Almond and Fig Gelato. The marriage of almond and fig was unique and sweet without being overpowering — the perfect end to any meal. As well as these mini Churros, served with the richest of chocolate sauces.Which we promptly attacked — the smell of cinnamon and fried dough was positively intoxicating but paired with the rich dark chocolate sauce these Mexican standards were downright gourmet! Even better than the churros and guava sauce I raved about on my last trip to Florida!The evening was a superb showcase of Chef Mark Strausman’s abilities. Fred’s managed to integrate fresh, seasonal ingredients in both healthy foods and comfort foods alike, fusing them together into a drool-worthy dinner that has me counting down the hours until my NEXT visit!
And while Freds did provide the meal, all opinions on this fantastic little spot are decidedly my own!