Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Adventures in cooking -- Woori Village, Niles

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and wanted to do so with something out of the ordinary.

I've always loved trying new cuisines, and was made aware in the last few years of the type of cooking/eating known as Korean barbecue. It's not barbecue in the slow-cooking sauce-basted sense; rather you cook your own meat on a tabletop grill that's either gas or charcoal. After much searching, I settled on Woori Village, 8526 W Golf Rd in Niles, for my birthday adventure.

There ended up being five of us, and at 5:40 on a Saturday we were seated promptly. This place is big, and we were in a smaller room with about 10-12 booths, one of three separate dining rooms. The table had a circular gas grill in the middle and a napkin dispenser and big container full of metal chopsticks.

After we told the waitress we wanted the all you can eat (about $23 per person for tons of side dishes and all the meat you can grill), they sprang into action and in no time our table was covered with small and medium-sized bowls. I still don't know what was in half of them, but I tried almost everything. I do know there was seaweed salad, kimchi, some sort of egg pancake, bean sprouts and a potatoey thing. We worked our way through four portions of beef (three different cuts) and a portion of pork belly. Three of us got spicy tofu soup. I'm still not sure WHY, though -- the two people on the outside were offered it, and then I sort of looked quizzically at the waitress and they offered me some too.

Not only was cooking our meat fun and tasty, but the service, while good, was also inadvertently hilarious -- because we had a bit of a language barrier. None of us spoke a word of Korean, and when we asked the waitresses questions, we got answers that contained English words but made absolutely no sense. (Word to the wise: We later found out that "mountain chain" is tripe.)

While this isn't the sort of place we'd frequent, I would definitely go again, knowing somewhat more what was going on and what to expect.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Resale to the Rescue!

So I recently changed careers and found myself in need of an entire business-casual wardrobe. The thought of going to the mall and clothes shopping makes me break out into a sweat, not to mention the serious dent in my pocket book this was going to be. But thanks to two wonderful, and far more fashion-savvy, smart shopper friends I discovered the wonderful world of clothing resale.

Now my husband and I enjoy shopping at thrift stores to see what fun retro goodies we can find but I have never had luck shopping for clothes at thrift stores. The stores my friends recommended, however, are different. Enter Clothes Attic'd, 605 E. Ogden Ave. in Naperville and two Clothes Mentor locations - Naperville @ 582 S. Rt. 59 and Schaumburg @ 1402 N. Roselle Rd. to save the day! These places are higher end quality resale shops and have only name brand clothes. They have a strict policy on the quality of the clothes they accept - no ratty worn out sweaters or pants with a stain on them here.

Clothes Mentor is a small chain and I have checked out several of their locations. The Naperville and Schaumburg locations are by far the best as far as huge selection goes. In addition to all kinds of tops they also have a large selection of jeans, slacks, capris, dresses, jackets, shoes and jewelry. I was particularly happy to find several pairs of slacks between the two locations for my petite height. If there is a particular brand you love they have some of the big names highlighted on their own separate racks like J. Jill, Gap, Ann Taylor, etc. A few of the items I purchased still had the store tags on them!

Clothes Attic'd is along the same line as Clothes Mentor, but a single store with a smaller selection. Although they have less clothing I think the quality is even better and they also have cocktail dresses and a large selection of nice jewelry.

Both of these stores have amazing prices. Ann Taylor slacks for $14! An Eddie Bauer sweater for $8! Between these stores I was able to get an entirely new work wardrobe for under $300. A-mazing!

I only wish I had known about these stores sooner. I could have avoided mall clothes shopping all these years...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sports bar solace -- 601 Bar & Grill, Addison

At the corner of Mill Road and Army Trail there is a small strip mall that formerly housed Solace 601, a fine-dining Italian-French restaurant.

I don't know if it wasn't doing very well, or if the owners just wanted to take things a new direction, but the space has been reinvented and is now 601 Bar & Grill (601 W. Army Trail, Addison). That's much more our speed, so we decided to stop in on a recent Friday evening.

The owners must have done a big renovation -- the space has a big bar, lots of tables and high tops, and a dozen or more TVs.

We were seated promptly next to a picture of the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks and the most popular people in the restaurant. Half a dozen or more people squeezed themselves in next to my husband just to say hello to them. And around the bar were a bunch of middle-age dudes on their fourth beer who had absolutely no inside voice.

But 601 saved itself. Because the food was quite good and the service was excellent. The menu is heavy on burgers and wings, but also includes other sandwiches, pizza and a few entrees for giggles.

We started with nachos, which were very good chips, covered in beans and taco meat, slathered in convenience store cheese sauce and dotted with tomatoes, scallions and sour cream. Not bad, but would've been better with real cheese and pico de gallo.

We both ordered burgers: I had the California burger (avocado, green chiles, jack cheese, hold the mayo); the husband had the pizza burger.

Pretzel buns are awesome. The burger patties were juicy and cooked well (but not well-done). And the toppings were mighty tasty. We also both had waffle fries, which were sufficiently good though not seriously outstanding.

Service was very, very good -- seemed like nobody walked by our table without grabbing a used napkin, refilling the water, asking how the food was or *something*. Extremely attentive and friendly.

I just wish for a few more booths (I only spotted one) and a few less loud-mouthed dudes...