Province

There are no words for this place besides AMAZING. And I am not just talking about the food. This is one of the most responsible and sustainable restaurants in Chicago. Not only do they try to source their food locally and sustainably, the space is gold level LEED certified. That means it maximizes efficiency while minimizing costs and environmental impact. Obviously none of that matters if the food sucks. But the food is also out-of-this-world!

The place: Province; 161 N Jefferson St. Chicago, IL

Scallops and Short Ribs
Scallops and Short Ribs

The interior is painted pink with white ‘trees’ hanging upside down from the ceiling. It is like something out of Alice in Wonderland, but a little less trippy and a little more comfortable-classy. It feels like everyone is there to take care of you, but not in an overbearing way. A meal at Province is a relaxing experience with high quality and delicious food.

The whole menu sounded good! They do a fixed tasting menu, which I would highly recommend. You get a try a lot of different menu items and it changes often so the tasting menu never stops being an option. I wanted too many things that were not on the tasting menu, so we didn’t do it. The menu is set up with small plates that you can do tapas style and larger plates you can have as a meal. Get the tuna tacos. They are unbelievable with the chipotle salsa. It is smokey and spicy and takes the whole thing to foodie bliss. The muscles were amazing and served sans shell with chorizo.

Tuna Tacos
Tuna Tacos

The larger plates include Duck Paella. This is a must-try after the tuna tacos! The duck is melt in your mouth perfection. The scallops in the Scallops and Short Ribs were incredible. We shared a side of the lobster mashed potatoes. They were the best mashed potatoes (lobster or regular) I have ever had. Completely unbelievable!

Duck Paella
Duck Paella

The dessert was beautiful. I could have eaten it with my eyes, but my taste buds appreciated it too! The dessert menu changes, but I would recommend the shortcake and whatever version of chocolate is on there!

Seven Layers of Chocolate
Seven Layers of Chocolate

They have a great drink menu, but the homemade citruscello must cap off your meal.

Some things to consider: Province is great for a variety of meal price-points. You could have a huge celebratory meal here with a big group. Or, you could also come in for a more casual lunch and still have a great experience and amazing food. The service was awesome. The food is awesome. This place is just great!

For more information: http://chicago.provincerestaurant.com/

Happy environmentally friendly dining!

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TWO

The Midwest gets its fancy on at this new West Side spot without adding any snooty or stuffy to the mix. Local food from midwestern farmers is dressed in urban sophistication and served with genuine care. Everything from the food to the aesthetics to the service is spot on.

The Place: TWO; 1132 W Grand Chicago, IL

Not only does TWO buy locally, the interior is completely recycled. There is a wall made entirely from old Chicago porches, which adds to the homey comfortable feel. This is a classy and impressive place. It is one of those Chicago gems that will impress a date and make you look like you are totally in the know. It is off the beaten Rush Street path and doesn’t have those Rush street prices. The inside is beautiful, cool, rustic and romantic all in one, but the service and experience is what sets it over the edge. It felt like everyone was taking care of us.

Bacon and Arugula Risotto
Bacon and Arugula Risotto

Okay the food. WOW. Their menu changes often based on what is in season, but I am confident that there is always something amazing. The duck fat potato croquets were really good and served with chili herb aioli and Wisconsin parmesan. Don’t let the duck fat part scare you! Everything is cooked in some kind of fat, (butter=milk fat, olive oil=olive fat) they just need to come up with a sexier name for duck fat. My favorite thing had to be the risotto. It had homemade bacon, arugula and was topped with a fried egg. The egg really set the whole thing over the edge of amazing. It was so good! The grilled arctic char was probably the best piece of fish I have ever had. It was served over spinach, fingerling potatoes and smoked paprika buerre blanc (whatever that is). Save room for dessert. The homemade pretzel doughnuts with warm chocolate are like amazing fancy churros.

The drinks are creative and the bartender was super helpful. They have a lot of whiskey if that is your thing. They also have rotating selections from local breweries and microbreweries -only from the Midwest.

Some things to consider: They are only open for dinner, but I can’t really imagine having lunch here. There is potential free parking on side streets near by. That’s HUGE. It might be the only place left in Chicago. It isn’t that public transportation accessible and it is a little out of the way which is good and bad -bad because getting a cab might be a challenge. But really that is the only drawback. This place is amazing and I can’t wait to go back!

Two thumbs up for TWO! (Too cheesy?)

For more information: http://tworestaurantchicago.com/