Monday, June 30, 2014

Local Postdoc Foodie Adventures

By Natasha Wadlington, Ph.D., PDA Social, Teaching/Outreach, and Social Committees

As a postdoc, the opportunities to go out and explore what Hyde Park has to offer may be limited between doing experiments and traveling home. However, there are plenty of gems located in the area that would be fun for you and the whole family. A few members of the BSD Postdoctoral Association Social Committee had the pleasure to experience the Hyde Park Restaurant Crawl hosted by the Hyde Park Chamber of CommerceThe event showcased 8 eateries: A10, Chant, Clarke’s, Kilwins, Mellow Yellow, Native Foods, Pizza Capri, and Rajun Cajun. We knew we arrived in the right place when this friendly chocolate moose waved to us on the sidewalk. Across from the moose, we were greeted by the people at the sign up tent, given a flyer with the signature dishes that each restaurant offered, and sent on our way to the Restaurant Crawl. 

The first restaurant we visited was Clarke’s where the atmosphere was nice and homey. There was plenty of space at the booths and the servers checked up on us frequently given that we were only going to be there briefly. We were wowed by the fried green tomatoes.  It’s good that we came with a big appetite because these tomatoes were really filling. Unfortunately, we were greeted by storm clouds rolling in from the north but that did not stop our spirit and we continued on our food journey. Our palettes were quite impressed with the flavor of the samosas from Rajun Cajun, and liked the Rotini from Pizza Capri

 Luck was on our side during the outing because most of the rain fell north of Hyde Park. We continued on to our next restaurant which was Chant. The inside d├ęcor gave a chic vibe and seemed perfect for a date night or business dinner meet up. The sample we were given was the lobster rangoon. The flavors were out of this world compared to the standard crab Rangoon and the filling inside was very rich. Next on our journey was Mellow Yellow were we indulged into some savory chili. It was there that we sat with another woman who informed us that she would be participating in the next Restaurant Crawl this summer. With this much satisfying food, we were left in wonder about how good the next one would turn out.
Bidding the woman farewell, our next stop was Native Foods. Our luck ran out with the rain but a little water never deterred us from enjoying good food. We were promptly greeted and offered to try the twister wrap. As we were sitting at the booth, we noticed that there was a sign which listed the ingredients. To our surprise, the food was completely vegan. We confirmed this with the greeter. For those postdocs who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet this would be an excellent restaurant to try that is not far from campus.  

By this point, we were getting pretty full from the delicious food so far and the rain was getting heavier but with two more places to visit we did not want to give up. A10 was the next restaurant that specializes more in Italian cuisine. This place had more of a formal and intimate atmosphere perfect for dining. We were led to a small area where we stood and eventually presented with fried ricotta gnudi with Tuscan kale pesto. This dish had the most visual appeal which matched with the taste. It was well worth getting rained on.

Remember the chocolate moose from earlier? It turns out that this was the mascot for our final destination on our journey. Kilwins was where we picked up mouthwatering fudge, caramel popcorn, and brittle that was handcrafted at the restaurant. To our delight, they also offered us a free taste of one of the many ice cream varieties they offered. The atmosphere was very friendly with parents and their kids enjoying the sweet delights as well as various others from the community.  The restaurant is right next to the movie theatre so what better way to end a movie night than to indulge on a sweet treat. 

While being rained on was a tad unfortunate, it did not stop us from having a good time. There are two more Restaurant Crawls planned in the future at different locations in Hyde Park. This is an excellent opportunity to sample what Hyde Park has to offer. Take an evening away from the bench and enjoy the delicious foods served up by our local restaurants. By the end of the day, you’ll never know what pot of gold you might find at the end of the rainbow. Give it a try postdocs!    

All images by Natasha Wadlington Ph.D., postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago

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