I so love being in Chicago when the weather is warm. While out walking the busy downtown neighborhoods I find that the air is filled with various aromas radiating from numerous restaurants that utilize the sidewalks to create outdoor seating areas. On a recent visit I was able to sample a few new delights.
A relative newcomer to the Chicagoland area, Freestyle Food & Drink opened its doors in the summer of 2014. Attached to the Dana Hotel & Spa this marks the third restaurant opened by the hotel in the last 5 years. Chef Rodelio Aglibot and his team of chefs use fresh, sustainable ingredients to serve up American cuisine with a global twist. With many plates designed to share, and a dog friendly outdoor patio with perfect positioning to people watch in the River North area of Chicago, this seemed like a perfect spot to stop and enjoy the end of the summer sun.
Located on a busy street in downtown Chicago ensures that this restaurant gets a lot of passing foot traffic. My own visit was prompted by the fact that I had walked past the busy restaurant on numerous occasions while out sightseeing and shopping. The outside seating area is so inviting, especially on a warm summers evening. Various sized tables plus a couple of sofas allow for casual dining al fresco. Lights in the trees, candles lining the street partitioning, and the abundance of greenery to shield the diners from the suns rays offers a welcoming feeling.
It was actually the sign about Bloody Mary’s that initially drew me into this restaurant. For some reason my daughter and I had been discussing this drink and fate seemed to step in and offer up a restaurant right on our doorstep to indulge.
The lunch menu had a good selection of food options: small plates, tandems (side dishes like fries, mac and cheese, and brussel sprouts) soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, mains (short rib, chicken or beef skewers, grilled salmon, and roasted chicken), and raw and rolls (sushi). We selected three dishes from the small plates section to share.
We began with the chicken lettuce wraps at $12. Minced chicken stir-fried with water chestnuts, garlic, and wood ear mushroom served warm with lettuce, jalepeno, bean sprouts, mint and Thai basil all ready for you to build your own wrap. (Sadly we had already tucked into this dish before we realized we had not taken a photo). This was our favorite dish of the day as the chicken was absolutely delicious. While it can be a little messy to make your own food, we were very happy to have selected this dish and will now be researching the recipe to see if we can recreate this taste at home.
Next we selected the Asian chicken tacos at $9. Three soft corn tortillas were delivered filled with crispy chicken in a sweet chili glaze, with avocado and Asian pickles as topping. The menu had not specified corn tortillas so we were a little disappointed when the tacos arrived as we both prefer flour tortillas and would have asked for a substitute had we known. The chicken was certainly very crispy and the sweet chili glaze went well with the cool avocado slices.
Finally we tried the chips and guacamole at $9 A generous bowl of crushed avocado seasoned with lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, tomato, and served with corn chips on the side. I loved the presentation of this dish, as the guacamole was a mound of chunky deliciousness topped with cilantro and thin slices of tomato and jalapeno.
We visited on a Monday lunchtime so the restaurant was quite empty. Our server was very friendly and attentive although not very knowledgeable about the menu it would seem. After devouring the chicken wraps we asked what was in the dish that made it so delicious only to be told that she had no idea.
We enjoyed our visit to Freestyle Food and Drink and would return for another taster as the menu had many items that looked appealing. The location is great for us, being just a block from my daughter’s apartment in the River North area of Chicago. All the servers were very friendly, the food was fresh and tasty, and our Bloody Mary had just the right amount of spice to make us almost ask for another (but it was lunchtime and we sadly had too much to do). This area of Chicago has an abundance of restaurants so we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Im sure I will be featuring a few more eateries on my blog soon.
Have you visited Freestyle Food and Drink Chicago? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Location: 660 N State Street, Chicago 60654
Telephone: 312 202 6050
Hours: Breakfast: Monday-Sunday 6.30am -10.30am, Lunch: Monday-Friday11.30am-2.30pm, Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 10am-3pm, Dinner: Monday-Wednesday 5pm-12am, Thursday-Saturday 5pm-2am, Sunday 5pm-10pm