Chicago restaurants: Hot Chocolate

G. ordered a pork chop marinated in apple cider. It was the best chop any of us ever tasted.

I met Mindy Segal, one of Chicago’s best chefs, a few years ago when she taught a cooking class at the Milwaukee Public Market. She wouldn’t remember me and probably doesn’t even remember teaching the class.

But I remembered her and the name of her restaurant. A few months later, when G. and I spent a weekend in Chicago, we went to Hot Chocolate. G. had two cups of hot chocolate, and because he is so sensitive to caffeine, we were up until 4 a.m. He told me every story he has and then repeated them all. He now has a one cup limit and it has to be consumed before noon so the caffeine has time to wear off.

When I got transferred to Chicago for work, one of the things we looked forward to was being able to go to Hot Chocolate. We went recently when Mom was visiting.

We got there at 6:30. No tables were available until 8:30, so we sat at the bar and counted ourselves lucky. The wait for Sunday brunch can be longer. If you go, plan ahead and make a reservation. Here’s the number: (773) 489-1747.

G. ordered the special, a pork chop marinated in apple cider. All of us agreed it was the best chop we’d ever tasted. Mom doesn’t even like pork chops, and she thought it was outstanding.

Lamb and Krema Kasa sandwich.

She and I ordered the lamb and Krema Kasa sandwich, which was the restaurant’s house-made lamb sausage on flatbread with Carr Valley Krema Kasa cheese. Did I mention Mindy is an ambassador for the Wisconsin cheese board? Are you starting to see why I think she’s awesome?

The sandwich was awesome, and Mom and I don’t even like sausage. But this wasn’t like breakfast sausage. It was flat and lean and . . . I wish I could buy it in a store. Or even at the restaurant. I would cook it often.

We shared an appetizer, a potato soup with apple, onion and lots of cream. G. and I shared desert: a cornbread shortbread with sweetcorn ice cream, a corn flake wafer, slice peaches, blackberries and a bit of caramel sauce.

The restaurant was dark. My photos don’t do the food justice.

Peaches and Corn dessert.

Mindy has been nominated five years in a row for a James Beard Award for outstanding pastry chef. I hope she eventually wins. She’s got to be starting to feel like Susan Lucci.

Something to watch for: Mindy’s opening a bakery in Bucktown, the neighborhood that’s home to Hot Chocolate.


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