Gold Coast Sushi at Jellyfish

I always hear people mention in a bored way "another sushi place opened up" but that cannot be said about Jellyfish.  It's a new sushi place.  It's authentic.  And good.  You'll find it on Rush Street with an entrance leading to the second floor (accessible by elevator or stairs) across from Hugo's.  The look is very contemporary with a vibrantly lit bar and amazing views of the bustling neighborhood.

Spicy Crab Mini Tacos

Spicy Crab Mini Tacos

I was invited to stop in to try Chef Jason Im's menu and was seated in a very comfortable booth while I enjoyed a Kumquat Manhattan from the bar- if you like your whiskey like I do, you'll like this citrusy sweet twist on the classic cocktail.  The food started to roll in with Spicy Crab Mini Tacos which are loaded with fresh lump crab, flavored with lime, cilantro and candied lemon.  They also have a light kick with red tobiko and jalapeno.  This dish is a winner.  I also liked their Seafood Ceviche, a mix of scallops and shrimp with a touch of hot sauce and citrus.  Another tasty and refreshing way to start off.  Another starter followed- the Siam Shrimp.  Jumbo black tiger shrimp with pineapple and mixed vegetables in coconut curry.  The shrimp are enormous, but I would've liked more curry spice in this though.

The rolls are definitely a must as they have some really inventive creations like the Fire & Sol (salmon, spicy ponzu, snow crab), Cherry Blossom (tempura lobster tail) and Summer Rush (tuna, salmon, crab, shrimp wrapped in cucumber) along with classics like California and Spider. 


The main dishes sound great with selections of Yakitori Chicken and Wagyu Beef Burger, but we tried the Roasted Sea Bass.  This dish is just succulent with buttery bass cooked medium and melting in your mouth and salty crisp skin.  It was cooked perfectly. 

Throughout dinner I had my chance to sample the beverage list and tried JC Pichot Vouvray Chenin Blanc and Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon.  The choices aren't numerous but they have a good bit of variety like Graham Beck Sparkling Rose, Do Ferreiro Albarino and Ceretto Barolo, along with some heavy hitters like '03 Dom Perignon, Far Niente Chardonnay, and Opus One.  Plus the Japanese Whisky and Sake lists are quite solid.

Finishing it off, dessert worth the trip as we tried the strawberry panna cotta.  It's presented in a mason jar with layers of crunchiness, smoothness, creaminess and fruitiness.  Just stick the fork down to the bottom, pull it out and enjoy.  And they have an espresso machine, which always makes me happy and is a must for every restaurant in my opinion.   

If you're up this way shopping and living it up, put this fresh place on your list. 


BYOB at Park Grill

One of the best places to visit for locals and tourists in the city is Millenium Park.  There's so much to see and do, from the Jay Pritzker Pavillion to the Cloud Gate (the Bean!), that can be enjoyed by families, loners, couples, etc.  This spot holds a special place in my heart because I proposed to my wife on the Ice Rink just over 3 years ago (obviously she said YES!). 

I also enjoy visiting the Park Grill, a cozy spot you can relax with good food, drink and a view of the rink.  We also ate there just after my wedding proposal and have sat in the same booth every visit.  I recently found out there is no corkage fee on Sundays and Mondays, making it a great BYOB spot on those days!

We decided to go to the Park Grill for dinner this past Sunday for our 2nd anniversary dinner.  So we called a babysitter for Liljana, grabbed a bottle of wine and headed out.  We normally have Dom Perignon for our anniversary drink, but I mistakenly forgot to stock a bottle, so it was time to dig into the stash.  Since Blagica was in the mood for red wine, I decided on Colgin Cellars Cariad, a Bordeaux style blend from Napa Valley comprised mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  It's not an easy wine to find (I bought mine from a liquidation sale), but you could try to get on their ordering list, though it's running 3 years behind!

The Park Grill was steady as always.  They have a very good menu featuring local fruits, vegetables, pork, beef and chicken, along with wild caught fish.  Service is very knowledgable and attentive, though they seemed thinly stretched as it took around ten minutes before we were initially greeted by our server.  They feature a very good cocktail list, beer selection and bar menu, along with $5 food & drink choices in the bar area every Thursday from 5pm-close.  Their wine list is a bit pedestrian, with many of your usual suspects, but I see alot of value choices like Newton Chardonnay ($50), Babich Sauvignon Blanc ($39), Peter Lehmann Shiraz ($36), and Chateau Labat Haut Medoc ($48).

All in all, another satisfying experience, made even better with our own wine.  Make sure to take advantage of their Sunday/Monday BYOB and enjoy the Millenium Park fun!

How to Build Your Wine Collection

When most people think of a wine collection, they think of a temperature controlled cellar containing a magnitude of expensive bottles.  It simply is not true that this is the only example- a wine collection can be comprised of a single wooden rack in the living room, or even your kitchen countertop.  Now here are a few tips to help you get started.

I remember when I first started my collection.  I bought a self assemble 20 bottle wooden rack and went about trying to fill it- but since I was new to wine myself, what was the best way to approach it?

  1. Variety.  Don't be afraid to get wines from different producers, regions, vintages, and price points.  Try different styles and varietals.  Experiment.

  2. Seasons.  Be prepared for any weather.  When spring arrives, have that sauvignon blanc ready.  Hot summers should bring some fruity rosés.  Bring on the Beaujolais and pinot noir in autumn and some rich zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon in the winter.  And make sure you have a good amount of whites and reds all year long- who knows what mood you'll be in?

  3. Celebration.  Must have the bubbly in stock for special occasions.  My wife and I started our marriage with Dom Perignon Vintage 1999 and plan on having the same with each anniversary.

  4. Reserve.  There are wines that get better with age and you can appreciate while they are on the rack.  These wines can also be quite expensive.  Unless you know of some wines you cannot live without, try to look for closeout specials at wine shops.  I purchased almost all of my reserve wines at between 30-60% off regular price and cannot wait until the right moment to open them.  Until then, it is a joy just to know they are maturing in my home.

  5. Separate.  Keep wines for any reason- aging, everyday, Sunday dinner, afternoon drink, duck roast, etc.  Just make sure you know what/when your collection fits in.

  6. Favorites.  We all have our favorite wines so make sure you keep them in the collection and replenish them.  Do not be afraid to show them off!

  7. Search.  When you see wines you may want to purchase, don't be afraid to use your favorite search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) to get reviews and input from others.  This could be a telling factor if the wine is a bargain or fits your collection.

Check my Best Buys and visit your local wine shops and their experts.  Start building, happy hunting, and contact if you need help.


(Image courtesy of Flickr)