Chicago Archives - Please The Palate
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With only one night in Chicago, and a rainy one at that, I hopped into a taxi to the neighborhood of Logan Square to enjoy dinner and drinks at Chiya Chai, recently named Best Indian Restaurant in Chicago by Chicago Reader. A fan of Indian food, I was looking forward to a comfort meal and got so much more. Chiya Chai is owned by brothers Swadesh and Saujanya Shrestha who grew up in the midst of the world of tea in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their family are Nepalese tea farmers and their father was one of the first exporters of Nepalese tea to the United States. Swadesh Shrestha recalled growing up in the foothills of the Nepalese Himalayas and loved going to his grandfather's tea shop where he would sit quietly sipping a cup of milky chai as he watched the comings and goings of the village. The brothers, along with Swadesh's wife Rajee, who is also from Kathmandu, opened a restaurant in Minneapolis and ten years later, in August of 2016, opened Chiya Chai in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.  
My taxi picked me up in downtown Chicago and I told the driver to take me to the Pilsen neighborhood, just three miles southwest of the Chicago Loop where I was staying. The area was originally inhabited by Czech immigrants who named the neighborhood Pilsen after the Czech Republic city Plzeň. The area then became predominantly Latino. He argued with me and kept questioning why I wanted to go there. I couldn't understand why he was so resistant and explained that I knew exactly where I wanted to go.....Punch House, located in the historical Thalia Hall. Thalia Hall Thalia Hall, modeled after Prague's opera house, was built in 1891 by original proprietor John Dusek and the neighborhood's Eastern European immigrants. The space has been restored and today is a music venue/event space, as well as Dusek's restaurant and The Tack Room, a bar in the former carriage house. And, downstairs is Punch House.
On more than one occasion, when I have traveled to Chicago for work, I have stayed at the Kimpton Palomar Hotel. On numerous occasions, I have had drinks at the bar at Sable where Mike Ryan has crafted a serious cocktail program. But, in all the visits, I have never made it past the bar into the restaurant....until my most recent trip to Chicago. Sable Kitchen & Bar After a long event during the day, my colleagues and I wandered over to Sable Kitchen & Bar for dinner. We were ready to explore the seasonally inspired menu of social plates meant for sharing. I couldn't have asked for better dining partners - four hungry women with no dietary restrictions and open to everything. We started to review the menu and were on the same page in our choices. We tried to cover every section on the menu and managed to order at least one item from each section (except the "between bread" section). It was hard to choose but in the end, we were very satisfied with our dishes.