This past Thursday, January 24th, Chicagoans from near and far flocked to the West Loop neighborhood to attend the First Bites Bash. The event was the kickoff to Chicago Restaurant Week. From February 1st to February 10th, over 250 restaurants will offer Prix Fixe menus featuring their best fare. Held at the Great Hall in Union Station, the First Bites Bash welcomed 700 guests to a fashionable evening that did a remarkable job showcasing the city’s exceptional food scene.
The 50 participating restaurants offered one spotlight dish to tempt visitors to become customers during restaurant week. The eateries were organized into a maze of booths where chefs displayed their tastiest morsels. Notable Chicago chefs stood nearby to describe their dishes in great detail.
The food featured at the bash truly represented Chicago’s international restaurant scene. Wildfire Restaurant served Bison Meatball Lollipops. Union Sushi + BBQ Bar had an amazing Hokkaido sushi roll featuring a grilled scallop, avocado, masago-mayo, roasted pepper, jalapeno and garlic all wrapped in soy paper. Another show-stopping bite was from Tapas Valencia. They featured Datiles con Tocino, where roasted dates were wrapped in bacon and topped with a pimento butter sauce. LM Bistro offered a delicious sample of its brown butter crepe, with swiss chard, onions and Parmesan. Also, at a nearby booth, the Cape Cod Room pan seared Idaho River Trout to order.
Beverages were in no short supply at this event. Drink stations stood on either end of the Great Hall, serving a large variety of thirst quenchers. Additionally, wine and spirit vendors (small batch and large) were on hand, offering adult-only samples of their most delicious cocktails. The Patron booth offered a taste of its XO Café Dark Cocoa Liqueur cleverly served in a shot glass made of chocolate.
The bash also hosted The Tasting Table Sweet Relief Lounge, where tables full of desserts awaited those who were ready to satisfy their sweet tooth. Magnolia Cafe had an impressive spread of goodies, like the coconut treat macaroons and mini portions of banana pudding.
The First Bites Bash raised $15,000 for the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The organization also held raffle contests with select gifts awarded to winners. This annual celebration of food was put together to jumpstart the restaurant industry. There are still open reservations left at the over 250 participating restaurants, but they are filling up fast. Check out the full list of restaurants here. Chicago Restaurant Week begins next week, so hurry to grab one of the remaining reservations to Chicago food heaven.