On Saturday morning I made the trek to Chicago at around 8am and through a rain storm and heavy traffic, I finally made it into my dorm during the late afternoon. I always try to pack healthy snacks/breakfasts/lunches when I’m going on a road trip or long car ride just so I don’t starve during the trip and end up with nasty options on the side of the road.
I started my morning off with Unsweetened Umpqua Oats which I found at Whole Foods for around $3-4. They come with flax seeds, chia seeds, dried blueberries and apples with no added sugar. All you have to do is shake ’em up, add hot water and you’ve got hot oatmeal in a cup. Super nice for a quick and easy (yet of course healthy) breakfast. Half way through the drive, I devoured a huge salad I had purchased at Whole Foods the day before. Filled with golden beets, quinoa, mixed greens, hummus and tofu. Pretty plain but delicious at the same time. I paired my salad with a bag of Brad’s Raw Foods Cheezy Broccoli Poppers. Basically think of kale chips but in broccoli form. Super crunchy and oh so tasty.
After an extremely long rainy day of unpacking, going to Target to buy numerous book shelves and odds and ends for my new dorm room, my mom took my one roommate and I out to dinner in Lincoln Park. I made reservations a few weeks back at Summer House Santa Monica, a new restaurant under the Lettuce Entertain You branch.
I had seen pictures of it previously on their website and from Instagram and by the looks of it, it seemed like a restaurant with a ton of variety (always a plus) that gives off a summery beachy feel, as if you’re really in Santa Monica, California.
Once we arrived around 8:45pm, the first thing I did was take pictures of the center of the restaurant. It was lit up just right with banners and bulbs hanging from the ceiling and a large poster on the side of the wall with “YES” written on it. Kind of clever, kind of unique. Near the hostess stand hung a small wooden plaque saying “SUMMER IS HERE!” The art was nailed down to a T.
While waiting to be seated, I got a good look at the pastry counter right in front of the entrance. Behind a glass counter stood a couple cashiers serving coffee and cookies to customers. Just like their sister restaurant, Beatrix, they offer gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, brownies, blondies and rice krispie treats even.
While we got a heavy look at the menu after waiting about 20 minutes or so to be seated, we all decided on our appetizers and entrees. My mom ordered the Super Green Salad ($9.95) with kale, parmesan cheese and roasted garlic breadcrumbs with the Maine Lobster Orecchiette pasta ($21.95) for an entree. The pasta came with sweet corn and summer truffle sauce that arrived in a nice sized portion perfect for my mom. She commented on how light the dish was, not making you feel heavy or too full.
I ordered the Grilled Atlantic Salmon ($21.95) with a side of Caramelized Brussel Sprouts ($8.95) without pancetta that originally came with them. The brussel sprouts were soaked in a vinaigrette that was delicious and sweet yet by the time I finished I felt like I consumed a bucket of oil. As with my salmon, I unfortunately was unaware they cooked it at medium-rare because I let my mom decide on it for me. I never eat “rare” salmon unless it’s smoked so I was a bit thrown off and it was too chewy for me. The fennel that accompanied it was absolutely amazing but this dish was also a bit too oily for my liking. Overall I would have given it a 7/10 but probably would not order it again.
My roommate ordered the Fresh Burrata appetizer ($12.95) with a tomato jam. It came out first as a huge blob of cheese (burrata) on top of a pile of tomatoes and accompanied by some of the best thick bread ever. I never eat dairy or cheese products but I even took a bite of it and was in heaven. For her main course she picked the Surfer-Style Fish Tacos ($23.95). The fish of the day was Mahi Mahi and according to her, it was cooked perfectly. No complaints and garnished with watermelon and a small cabbage slaw. A good end-to-summer meal.
Although I was not 100% satisfied with my meal at Summer House, I’m glad I could share my first back-to-school Chicago eating out experience with one of my best friends (my roommate) and my mom.
Thankfully because I have a kitchen in my room this year and no meal plan access on the weekends, I will be whipping up recipes shortly. I just recently noticed these awesome Vegan Falafel Balls with Kale Cashew Pesto. Might have to dive into those sometime soon! I’m looking forward to all of the new and wonderful things I will be doing this year, along with starting a job at Chicago Raw and dining out at more vegetarian/vegan places. Hopefully I will be venturing off to my favorite spot – Native Foods – in a weekend or two!