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Fine Dining Made Fun at El Ideas

Fine Dining Made Fun at El Ideas

Innovative fine dining has found a home in Chicago. From the much lauded Alinea to newer restaurants like Curtis Duffy’s Grace, modern culinary masterpieces can be found across the city, opening the minds of diners and elevating the eating experience to a kind of art. However, the exclusivity and novelty of these places hardly give a sense of accessibility. Fine dining restaurants stand like ivory towers, inviting awe but not understanding. The machinations of the kitchen stay shrouded in mystery, and diners must adhere to fancy dress rules of high etiquette. It’s an incomparable experience to eat at one of these establishments, no doubt, but hardly a relaxing one.

El Ideas stands by a different philosophy. Hidden in an unmarked building down a side street on the south side of the city, far away from the trending neighborhoods for dining, the location alone gives a hint as to how this restaurant approaches the traditional concept of high cuisine. Owner and Chef Phillip Foss opened the small, one-seating-a-night location with the idea of “redefining fine dining.” El Ideas, short for Elevated Ideas in Cuisine and Dining, throws out the stuffiness and allows diners to really see and understand the food his kitchen brings to life.

You’re made to feel at ease right from the beginning as dining room manager Bill Talbott greets you not in jacket and tie, but jeans and a t-shirt. His jokes and smile keep the mood light, but don’t take away from the high standard of service he provides to each and every table. Chef Foss provides an introduction to the El Ideas style: all dishes are served at once, allowing the diners to experience the food together. Everyone is invited into the kitchen as the chefs plate to observe up-close the process and ask questions. The breakdown of the front of house – back of house barrier provides a deeper appreciation of the meal and a closer connection to the work put into it.

The casual atmosphere does not diminish the complexity of the dishes. Surprising combinations and unique preparation can be found in each course. Since everyone is served at once, the excitement and discovery become shared as diners smile and exclaim their praise. The chefs explain the inspiration behind each presentation, providing even further insight into how a meal of such high caliber comes together. It is a complete unveiling that you would be hard pressed to get at even the highest starred restaurants.

The food itself is one of a kind, and the menu can change from night to night depending on what the kitchen has available. The menu during one visit consisted of thirteen courses and no lack of creativity.

A deconstructed everything bagel started things off. Round, sweet balls of cream cheese mimicked the shape of the caviar, and dustings of poppy seeds, garlic, and salt brought that familiar flavor in an unexpected way.

Shrimp was accompanied by various incarnations of corn, from a corn pudding to shrimp fat popcorn, and sprinkled with ashy flecks of huitlacoche, a fungus that can be found on the plant.

Tomatoes took a surprising form as bubbles, accompanied by blanched cherry tomatoes, blackberries, fennel, and a spread of blackberry-infused goat cheese.

Even bread was more than met the eye. The sourdough was made with quince, Tahitian vanilla, and Blue Moon beer. The accompanying cheddar-brie butter, pork lardo spread, and Portobello mushrooms created one of the best bites of the night.

Sweet met savory in the most decadent way in one dessert: foie gras ice cream sandwiched between chewy, gingerbread like cookies and topped with a peach bourbon jam.

El Ideas certainly succeeds in taking the idea of fine dining to new heights. Luckily for us, the chefs act as our willing guides to take us right along with them.


These rolls are slightly sweet, thanks to just a spoonful of turbinado sugar in the dough.

Mashed sweet potato lends both moisture and color to these crowd-pleasing rolls.

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30 Best Dinner Salad Ideas That Won't Leave You Hungry

Changing your eating habits can be an uphill battle. But we&rsquore here to show you that healthy dinner recipes don&rsquot have to be boring and bland, just like in these super-filling dinner salad ideas that won&rsquot leave you hungry right after you finish eating. We&rsquove all been there&mdashyou have a salad for dinner and an hour later, your stomach starts rumbling. That&rsquos because you haven&rsquot tried these salads that have plenty of protein, hearty ingredients, and are downright delicious.

While some fall in the category of vegetarian dinner ideas, such as the farro and acorn squash salad or the huevos rancheros salad, many have meat or fish as the main protein so you can still get your carnivorous fix. Look to the steak and potato salad or the grilled pork spinach and barley salad for some of your favorite main items with a salad built around them. These salads qualify as low carb recipes, but aren&rsquot any of the tasteless meals you think of when you hear the words &ldquolow carb.&rdquo Bring just as much variety and flavor to your salads as you would to any other quick, easy dinner recipe. Whatever craving you&rsquore looking to satisfy while staying healthy, you can bet that these dinner salad ideas have just what you need.


15 No-Fuss Backyard BBQ Side Dish Recipes

Those with a creative eye know firsthand that inspiration is all around us. Whether you're energized by the earth tones of nature, a color-filled walk through a local farmer's market, or even by a quick scroll through Instagram, you never know what might spark a new creative project.

In the spirit of inspiring your next masterpiece, we're excited to partner with Bounty to fuel the next generation of artists and designers forward by launching a national design competition. We're calling on graphic designers to apply for a chance to see their work featured on a new Brit + Co and Bounty paper towel collection, set to launch in 2022.

Aside from the incredible exposure of having your illustrations on paper towels that'll be in stores across America next year, you'll also receive $5,000 for your art a scholarship for Selfmade, our 10-week entrepreneurship accelerator to take your design career to the next level (valued at $2,000) and a stand alone feature on Brit + Co spotlighting your artistry as a creator.

The Creatively You Design Competition launches Friday, May 21, 2021 and will be accepting submissions through Monday, June 7, 2021.

APPLY NOW

Who Should Apply: Women-identifying graphic designers and illustrators. (Due to medium limitations, we're not currently accepting design submissions from photographers or painters.)

What We're Looking For: Digital print and pattern designs that reflect your design aesthetic. Think optimistic, hopeful, bright — something you'd want to see inside your home.

How To Enter: Apply here, where you'll be asked to submit 2x original design files you own the rights to for consideration. Acceptable file formats include: .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .SVG, .PSD, and .TIFF. Max file size 5GB. We'll also ask about your design inspiration and your personal info so we can keep in touch.

Artist Selection Process: Panelists from Brit + Co and P&G Bounty's creative teams will judge the submissions and select 50 finalists on June 11, 2021 who will receive a Selfmade scholarship for our summer 2021 session. Then, up to 8 artists will be selected from the finalists and notified on June 18, 2021. The chosen designers will be announced publicly in 2022 ahead of the product launch.

For any outstanding contest Qs, please see our main competition page. Good luck & happy creating!


10 U.S. Restaurants Offering Tableside Preparations

Sample everything from steak tartar to Bananas Foster.

Related To:

Chops/Lobster Bar, Atlanta

Michael's Gourmet Room, Las Vegas

The Bazaar, Los Angeles

Want to impress a dinner date? Order the LN2 Caipirinha at The Bazaar in Los Angeles. Created and served tableside, this frozen version of the Brazilian cocktail is a mix of Cachaca (a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice), fresh lime juice and sugar which is transformed by liquid nitrogen into the Caipirinha.

El Gaucho, Seattle

Not all Caesar salads are created equal and the one made from scratch at El Gaucho in Seattle is to-die-for. At your table, the server will whip up the freshest Caesar salad you&rsquove ever tasted from crisp, grated romaine hearts and Parmesan Reggiano cheese, lemon, minced garlic, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, an egg, homemade croutons and cracked black pepper.

Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest, Illinois

Portabella mushrooms with spinach and goat cheese, roast duck with cranberry wild rice and garlic accented escargots are some of the famous dishes at Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois. But the most popular house specialty might be the filet of Dover sole, which is sautéed at your table with lemon butter sauce and almonds.

A.G. Kitchen, New York City

Fresh guacamole prepared tableside is always a crowd-pleasing theatrical act with a delicious payoff. And one of the experts in that presentation is A.G. Kitchen in New York City which offers a tropical variation that includes such ingredients as pineapple and pomegranate.

Zuma Miami

Inspired by the informal Japanese dining style called izakaya, Zuma Miami specializes in flavorful small plates such as pan-seared prawns and black cod dumplings and chilled soba noodles with lobster in soy-ginger dressing. The most popular crowd-pleaser, however, might be the vegetarian rice hot pot which includes wild mushrooms, tofu and Japanese vegetables served tableside in a cast-iron pot.

Sullivan's Steakhouse

With at least sixteen locations around the country, Sullivan&rsquos Steakhouse is a high-end operation offering first class lunch and dinner fare with craft cocktails and addictive appetizers to match. They also offer a few table side specialties and the headliner is their impeccable BLT salad which is made with arugula, tomatoes, crisp bacon, blue cheese and a sweet basil vinaigrette.

Commander's Palace, New Orleans

Located in the heart of New Orleans&rsquo historic Garden District, Commander&rsquos Palace has been a legendary gourmet destination since 1893. Some of their signature dishes include turtle soup, pecan smoked redfish cake and a rich seafood stew. But save room for their desserts, especially their spectacular presentation of Bananas Foster Flambe for two.

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse

First founded in 1981, Del Frisco&rsquos Double Eagle Steakhouse has expanded to several locations around the country and offers fine dining with an emphasis on chops and seafood. Carnivores will particularly savor the excellent steaks, especially the ribeye cut which is sliced and served table side.


60 Best New Year&rsquos Eve Dinner Ideas To End the Year Deliciously

Whether you're throwing a household New Year's Eve bash or staying up late to watch the ball drop in Time Square, you'll need some fun and festive New Year&rsquos Eve dinner ideas to get you ready for the night ahead. From belly-filling casseroles to vegetable-focused vegetarian ideas, we rounded up tons of delicious mains to keep you satisfied &lsquotil the clock strikes midnight. No matter your New Year&rsquos Eve food traditions, we&rsquove got something for you. Feeling fancy? Try a spotlight-stealing steak dinner crowned with a pat of butter, or a whole-roasted salmon recipe that doubles as a stunning centerpiece. Start the year off right with colorful, filling salads or celebrate your cravings for carbs, carbs and more carbs (such as pasta, gnocchi and risotto, to name a few).

Choose one of our quick and easy dinners (including Instant Pot recipes!) if you&rsquod prefer to focus your energy on New Year&rsquos resolutions instead, or get together with a partner, friend, or family to whip up an elaborate feast, even if it&rsquos just a simple dinner for two. Eat the comfort foods you love, share the holiday with family and friends (virtually!) and always, always, save room for New Year&rsquos Eve dessert.


14 Vegan Desserts That Everyone Will Love

Craving something sweet? From our take on chocolate layer cake to two kinds of baked fruit crisps, these vegan desserts (made sans dairy!) are delightful. Our recipes make use of vegan-friendly ingredients like almond milk, soy creamer, margarine, and coconut or vegetable oil to provide the moistness and fat that traditional dairy ingredients (such as milk, eggs, and butter) offer. Vegans, or anyone with a dairy intolerance, will love you, and others won't even know the difference.

Our vegan dessert recipes range from dairy-free takes on absolute classics (we're looking at you, chocolate cake) to unique sweets such as Spiced Cashew-Coconut Brittle and Plum Pâtes de Fruits. Whether you make them for a special occasion like a birthday party or give smaller treats as a gift during the holiday season, you can feel good knowing that there is something delicious&mdashand safe&mdashhere for everyone to eat.

The Vegan Blueberry Crisp, pictured here, is the perfect example. Make it in the middle of summer when plump blueberries are at their peak and you can enjoy their naturally sweet, juicy flavor. They're topped with a crumble made from rolled oats, toasted almonds, sugar, and coconut oil, then baked until bubbling and golden brown. When fall comes around, we also have two spiced apple desserts&mdashVegan Apple Oat Crisp and Vegan Apple Pie. Do you prefer a more rustic dessert or something a bit more formal? Trust us, you can't go wrong either way.

These vegan (and in some cases, also gluten-free!) dessert recipes are sure to please your family and friends.


30 Refreshing Mocktail Recipes That Make Skipping Booze Easy

Booze-free beverages are having a moment. Trendy nonalcoholic drinks are gaining market share, sophisticated mocktails are becoming more commonplace on drink menus, and creative homemade mocktail recipes are all over popular food blogs.

There are a lot of really good reasons to choose an alcohol-free drink, but there’s one thing all mocktail drinkers can agree on: It’s got to taste as delicious and complex as any adult beverage. The best mocktail recipes are made with a thoughtful combination of flavorful ingredients. Some of those include juicy berries, fresh herbs, warming spices, tart citrus juices and vinegars, fizzy seltzers, steeped teas, fermented kombuchas, and sweeteners like honey.

So make a batch for yourself to sip with dinner or a movie, or for family members of all ages to enjoy. (You can always give adults the option of spiking their own cup, if you like—but honestly, these mocktails are so good that no one will be missing the booze.)


Senior Living Dining as It Used to Be

Meals in assisted living , memory care communities and nursing homes were once created with different goals. To make food that most residents could eat, senior-living kitchens used salt and spices in moderation – making for meals that were bland at best . Food was often overcooked, with the belief that softer was better. And fresh foods sometimes were overlooked to keep costs down.

That’s not the case anymore. As the baby boomer generation encountered senior living – for themselves and their parents – consumers began demanding more. Many people are choosing active adult communities or independent living communities these days as they downsize their homes . With taste buds firmly intact, they want to enjoy everything about their meals – from the choices to the taste of the service. Basically, they want the dining experience they’d get at a restaurant.

Senior living communities are recognizing that and responding. Here’s one reason why. An American Time Use Survey revealed that adults between 65 and 74 reported spending about seven hours a day on leisure activities . While they devoted just under an hour and a half to eating and drinking, that’s still 10 minutes longer than Americans as a whole.

So it was just a matter of time before active-adult and other senior living communities put leisure and eating together. Residents, even active ones, consider meals to be an activity. Dining is a significant and important part of their day. Enter fine dining.


Cooking For One: 22 Super Easy and Healthy Meals for Solo Dining

Making healthy meals for one isn’t always easy. Sure, there’s always takeout, but it’s not the best option — for your wallet or your health. Cooking for one can be a bit of a challenge.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the best easy meals for one, broken down by meal time. This means you could have cinnamon roll Greek yogurt pancakes for breakfast, a Mediterranean grilled cheese for lunch, and a vegetarian burrito bowl for dinner.

And dessert? Like we’d forget about that. There’s a 1-minute coffee cake that’s yours for the taking. (Looking for a slew of sweets for one? We’ve got more mug recipes here.)

Tie on your apron, baby, because these healthy recipes are going to make cooking for one easy as pie.

1. Mac and cheese in a mug

You’ll never eye the blue box again. This creamy mac and cheese gets made entirely in the microwave for those nights when you need comfort food, stat.

If you have macaroni, shredded cheese, and milk at home, you’re ready to make this. Whole-wheat pasta and the addition of frozen broccoli or a side salad gives it a healthier twist. Opt for vegan cheese if you have lactose intolerance or prefer to skip the dairy.

2. Vegetarian burrito bowl

If eating at Chipotle is burning a hole in your wallet, it’s time to try your hand at making burrito bowls at home.

By combining brown rice, black beans, salsa, cheese, and diced avocado, you can make a healthy, delicious Mexican-inspired meal in just 5 minutes — and for a whole lot less money than eating out.

Add leftover tofu or chicken for extra protein and a dollop of Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Enjoy over shredded greens for more fiber and other health benefits.

3. Egg fried rice

We’ve heard of many mug meals, but fried rice is a new one. Save yourself the Chinese food delivery fee and try this healthier homemade version. It can be ready in less than 10 minutes (if you’ve got some cooked rice on hand) and eggs are an EGG-cellent complete protein source.

4. Pasta for one

Let’s admit it: There’s nothing quite as comforting as eating pasta. You can whip up this simple pasta dish in just 10 minutes. Parmesan melds with some pasta cooking water to create a creamy sauce. A generous grind of black pepper is the final touch.

Adding some fresh spinach or swapping in bean-based pasta will up the nutrient content too.

Share on Pinterest Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

5. Blueberry paleo protein waffle

Skip the frozen waffles and whip up these protein-packed waffles instead. Vanilla protein powder and substitutes such as coconut flour in place of wheat flour make these a sweet and filling a.m. meal that packs a nutritional punch.

If you want to skip the syrup, a drizzle of honey and lemon will brighten it up.

6. Mushroom and herb omelet

Who says omelets need to be complicated? This fancy-looking recipe calls for only eggs, mushrooms, sour cream, and some of your favorite herbs. Fresh herbs make all the difference in taste. Plus, mushrooms and eggs are among the few food sources of vitamin D.

7. Sweet potato bacon kale hash

This restaurant-quality breakfast is packed with hearty (and nutrient-packed) ingredients: bacon, sweet potatoes, a runny fried egg, and crispy kale. Best of all, everything cooks in one pan, meaning minimal cleanup after you devour it.

8. Peach crisp smoothie

Peaches are an underrated fruit when it comes to smoothies — berries seem to get all the love. But that’s about to change with this recipe.

A frozen peach (or use fresh if you’ve got it!) gets blended with heart-healthy walnuts, oats, and banana for a frozen breakfast with plenty of staying power.

9. Banana-oat baked French toast

This is a solo breakfast that defies categorization. Not quite French toast and not quite oatmeal, this dessert-like breakfast will have more fiber if you use whole-grain bread. Top with a spoonful of almond butter for a sweet and nutty boost, plus a dose of heart-healthy fat to keep you satisfied.

10. No-bake vanilla breakfast cookies

Some days you wake up and your sweet tooth immediately kicks in. These breakfast cookies are the perfect solution, especially since they can be either eaten right away or placed in the freezer or fridge for 30 minutes while you finish getting ready.

Grab ’em on the way out the door and enjoy a sprinkle-filled morning. Your 10-year-old self would be so jealous (and your adult self will appreciate that the balance of fiber, protein and healthy-fat keeps you energized all morning!)

11. Cinnamon roll Greek yogurt pancakes

Pancakes might seem like a cooking-for-the-masses breakfast, but with the right proportions, they can easily become a solo meal.

This sweet cinnamon stack looks decadent but is hiding healthier ingredients: Plain Greek yogurt, protein powder, egg whites, and rolled oats pack in protein to power through your day. Who needs a boxed mix?