Friday, May 16, 2008

Bien Trucha

I've been meaning to do some serious exploring in Geneva, IL, since it's so close to my work, but haven't had much opportunity to since the boss lady's happier when I'm here during lunches (obviously). A couple weeks ago, my brother asked me if I wanted to do lunch out of nowhere, so I figured it'd be a good opportunity to check out Bien Trucha (found 'ravings' online). Located next to a shabby clothing store, this little restaurant is easily miss-able. We arrived for lunch around 12:20, and there was already a line of 2 parties ahead of us. We put our name down and waited approximately 15 minutes before we were seated. The space is one of the smallest I've ever seen, with simple / cute decor and plating, including water served in deep blue bottles instead of pitchers.

Fried chips were given to us immediately with warm bean dip instead of traditional salsa. It's smooth and tasty, but I personally prefer traditional fresh tomatoes salsa.

My brother and I shared their ceviche, chicken-based soup, and Bien Trucha taco. Their ceviche was overly citrusy, but still fresh, served in a martini glass with arugula tossed in olive oil & chips. Chicken-based soup was intensely flavorful, soothing, and delicious. Bien Trucha taco features grilled skirt steak topped with homemade chorizo, Manchego cheese, and Serrano chili salsa. All the flavors were intense and blended with perfection, and steak was perfectly tender. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me, but I did find a picture online, I think on Chicagomag?

Excited that they hand-mash fresh fruit margaritas, I asked the hubby and gal pal to join us the following week for a Thursday night dinner.

Between the 4 of us, we shared the following:

guacamole of the day - sprinkled with small watermelon chunks, adding a perfect sweetness to the usual guacamole blend. I'm definitely trying this at home over the summer.

chorizo cazualita - a crock of melted cheese with homemade chorizo, served with 4 small fresh tortillas so we can make our own wraps. The flavor was SO GOOD, wrap tasted homemade and fresh... this dish gave my taste buds an explosive surprise, so intense that I wondered, "is this really that good or am I drunk?" My friend took photos with her iphone:

Speaking of drinks, I ordered their hibiscus flower margarita, brother went with strawberry (later, a traditional), husband went with a lime variety (later, cucumber). All of the margaritas were on the rocks, very fresh, and perfectly stiff.

next came the shrimp tacos in a sweet & tangy chili sauce with avocado. fresh, crisp, tasty, but not as delicious as other dishes. I forgot to bring my camera on both occasions but I did find a photo online:

"pescado" tacos (fried tilapia with cabbage slaw). Tasty, and breading was nice and crispy, but I felt the batter was a bit too much, overpowering the tender fish. I appreciate the crunchy texture next to the soft fish and tortilla, but I still prefer grilled fish tacos. (4 small tacos / order)
Next, we tried the steak tortas, which was my favorite (tied with cazualita) of the evening! Again, perfectly seasoned & grilled skirt steak with melted cheese & roasted jalepeno pepper!

Lastly, the portobello mushrooms tortas - small chunks with onions & peppers (i believe?) The mushrooms made the bread a bit too moist, and it's a mess to eat. They use soft italian bread for both tortas which is much more elegant than the usual hamburger-like buns. I loved the crispy texture and how soft the breading was inside.

I can't wait to go back! As hubby described in an email this morning, "i still can't get over how good last nite dinner was. everything was soo good. im burping up some good stuff. lol."

(note: including tip, it was around $30/person)

Bien Trucha
410 W State St
Geneva, IL 60134
(630) 232-2665

Monday, May 12, 2008

Panes Bread Cafe

When hubby first moved back to Chicagoland area from Peoria, he wanted to move straight into the city life. He also wanted to have a basement space to start a band, so him, his h.s. friend, and another friend started renting at 1237 Wellington.

Panes bread cafe was about 2 blocks from their house, so we always picked up sandwiches during the wknd practices. It's such a cozy, comfortable atmosphere with delicious (and cheap!) homemade food -- we missed it so much! I recently saw an article of Panes raising their prices at the cause of increased costs (damn the rise in fuel!), but it's still pretty cheap.

This past Friday, I finally had the opportunity to visit one of my old fave cafes, and this is what we ordered:

The Popular always a winner chicken breast caramelized onions, spinach roasted peppers, provolone cheese on tomato bread $5.50

They bake their own bread. Usually it's on a tomato foccacia, but they ran out (we got there around 9pm). This crisp and soft bread with fresh ingredients made a winning combo.

Panes Linguini linguini pasta tossed with grilled chicken mushrooms, spinach and spicy tomato cream sauce

The sauce base was tasty, as well as the ingredients, but it was a bit on the overly creamier side for my taste.

BBQ Chicken shredded chicken breast, asiago, mozzarella cheese and bbq sauce

Loved this thin crust pizza with tangy homemade bbq sauce -- definitely one of the most memorable of the three.

Even though this is a casual order-at-the-counter place, the lady at the counter was very nice, and they even made the effort of dividing our dishes into 3 portions for us to share.

I can't wait to go back!

Note: Photos taken by Dave Won -- Since he had his professional camera took out and started to take photos with various angles, I did not want to embarrass myself by pulling out my little digital.

Bread Cafe
Sandwiches, Italian, Desserts & Bakeries

3002 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago 60657
At W Wellington Ave

Phone: 773-665-0972