I’m Full Chicago is so big time and it doesn’t even know it. Last weekend, I received an email through my blog from a representative of Relished, a food delivery service in Chicago that essentially brings you the mise en place for weeknight dinners. The rep offered to send me a box of three two-serving meals for free, under the assumption that I would review their services. Again, I am big time now. I might start forgetting the little people soon. Of course, I seized the opportunity and on Wednesday evening I was greeted with a box filled with ingredients and detailed instructions for three meals: pan seared whitefish with roasted vegetables and a lemon butter sauce, chicken marsala with wild mushrooms and a dandelion greens salad with gorgonzola cheese, sunflower seeds and radishes.
Inside the box was also a welcome letter from the Relished team. They suggested cooking the fish first and I did what I was told.
I also decided to make the dandelion salad, as I am not one who considers a salad without protein a meal.
As my devoted readers know, I am typically one who likes to modify recipes when I cook. Because the directions and ingredients were so specific, I felt it would be unfair to review the dinners without following them to a tee. I started with the salad and noticed immediately that there were instructions for slicing cucumbers, but no cucumbers included in the bag. Cucumbers were not in the listed ingredients either, so I presume that if you had a cucumber lying around, you could include it. I did not. The recipe also called for one shallot, which was mostly slimy, so I ended up leaving out about half of the shallot as well. The salad still turned out decent and it was more than enough for two people as a side.
On to the fish and roasted vegetables. What was nice about the recipe was that it was timed out perfectly. The roasted vegetables were finished in perfect conjunction with the fish. I often find that my biggest challenge when I cook is having everything ready at the same time. Unfortunately, the fish did not turn out the way that I expected. I am a salt addict by nature, so I am prepared to take partial credit for the saltiness of the fish, however, the instructions stated to salt the vegetables, fish and butter sauce, without giving any measurements. I guess I was too liberal with my estimates and even for someone who drinks Frito smoothies, the fish was inedible. The roasted vegetables were excellent and with the salad, it ended up being a perfectly satisfying dinner with plenty of leftovers.
I feel so bad writing this, but things did not get better at my next meal. Chicken Marsala was dinner the next night and I was determined to make it better than my fish fiasco. Unfortunately, it just was not. The instructions said to cook the chicken in a pan for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. This was nowhere near enough time for the large chicken breasts to cook, especially when the instructions did not say for the chicken to go back in and cook with the sauce, which I personally would have done. The sauce was runny and thin and although I knew to put the garlic in the pan as the first step to making the sauce, there was no instruction listed for the garlic anywhere in the recipe, other than to chop it up. I tried to cook the chicken a bit more in the sauce, but once I tasted the sauce, I ended up tossing the entire meal.
I think the concept behind delivery food services like Relished is great for families, but for me, it just missed the boat. I typically plan my dinner on a nightly basis and especially given my experience with these two meals, I do not see myself trying it again.
When you have co-workers who are also your friends, it is always enjoyable to spend a night outside of school and unwind at the end of a long week. Actually, our week was three days due to the snow and we have summers off, but you get what I mean. This past Friday, I did just that and with three friends who were ready to share their plates. A restaurant week menu is always an added bonus and one I forgot about until that night. Little Market was not at the top of my “Restaurant Menus I Need to Eat Before I Die” list, but I was still excited to try it and the close proximity to my new apartment did not hurt. Below is the restaurant week menu.
We decided to order two restaurant week menus and a few additions from the regular menu. We chose the beet salad, mushrooms on toast, potato gnocchi and pan seared whitefish from the restaurant week menu and added the country pate, all-day grilled cheese and an order of fries to round everything out.
Without a doubt, the standout of the dinner was the all-day grilled cheese. Fried egg, cheddar, bacon, avocado and sriracha. In the words of my idol, Ina Garten, “How bad could that be?” Not bad at all is my answer. Not bad at all. The rest of the meal was fine, but forgettable. The whitefish was bland and boring and the country pate was not a pate at all. My fellow pate lover and I were disappointed when the waitress brought out slices of liver instead of the chunky dip we had anticipated. Nobody does pate like Sodikoff, just saying.
The ambiance of Little Market is charming and cozy and it would definitely be a fun stop for a pre or post dinner drink. Of course, I would be ordering my drink with a side of grilled cheese.