Chicago: Bite Cafe

It took us a few circles around River North before we realized that we didn't want to eat downtown at all.  It took another few minutes of aimless driving before Carmen suggested we get dinner at Bite Cafe:


Located right next to Empty Bottle, Bite Cafe recently beefed up its menu to go from late night, post-show grub to intimate dinner for two...or four, in our case.  The interior is pretty small, which adds to its cozy atmosphere, but as a result there was nowhere for us to stand and wait for a table.  Instead, once we found out Bite Cafe is BYOB, we walked around the neighborhood looking for a liquor store.  It took a bit of searching, but we finally located a bottle of wine and made it back to Bite Cafe with time to spare.

Since I was with three of the biggest foodies I know (including the co-founder of Ruxbin), I just sat back, relaxed, and let them take care of all the ordering.  Either my friends really know their stuff or Bite Cafe has a brilliant chef (I think it's a combo of both), but everything that came to our table was DELICIOUS.

First we got a side of fries:


Fries are surprisingly easy to mess up, but these were spot on.  Hot, crispy on the outside, heartily seasoned...mmm.  No ketchup necessary.

We also gave the mac and cheese a whirl:


Not the most memorable of the night, but still good.

The brussel sprouts with bacon and shallots were also a treat:


Caught up in the feel of autumn in the air, we couldn't resist the parsnip risotto with roasted rutabaga, butternut squash, herbs, and parmesan:


Creamy good.

We noticed that their daily special menu was eerily similar to Ruxbin's menu.  As kind of a test, we ordered the trout special:


I don't remember exactly what was in it, but we all agreed that Bite Cafe's trout can more than stand on its own.  The fish was perfectly cooked and the blanket of veggies made the perfect complement.

Then there was the crispy pork shank, which came with an arugula salad, pickled onions, and peppers:


Ohmygawd, the pork was absolutely to die for.  I can't even think about it without drooling.

We were all pretty stuffed by the end of the meal, but we still couldn't make ourselves leave without dessert:


Fudge brownie, graham cracker ice cream, toasted marshmallow fluff, and bourbon caramel....really?  Don't even look at the picture.  How decadent does that sound?  Tasted amazing too.  Marshmallow fluff!

Definitely one of the best meals I've had in Chicago in a long while.  Scratch that.  Make that one of the best meals I've had in a while, period.  I highly recommend checking out Bite Cafe.  While the wait staff isn't exactly particularly engaging,  the food is better than good and the prices are reasonable.

Bite Cafe is open until 1:30 am and their late night menu looks really promising, so there really isn't any excuse not to go.  I almost don't want to advertise it too much because I don't want to fight a large crowd the next time I go.  However, I'm a generally nice person and Bite Cafe is just too good not to share.  Be grateful.


Bite Cafe
1035 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 395-2483
http://www.bitecafechicago.com/

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