Gilt is Good

Ok, I promise, this is the last birthday-related post since, well, my birthday was almost a week ago. On Saturday night, a group of my closest friends and family joined Adam and I at Gilt Bar, a new gastropub here in Chicago. I'd heard a few great things about it in recent months, but the deciding factor in making it the location for my birthday party was simple:

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That's my sister. And that's an apron around her neck, because as of July, she's the new pastry chef at Gilt Bar!

I knew I wanted to do something fantastic to celebrate my 30th birthday, and supporting my sister's new endeavor with my best and closest seemed like the perfect thing. Adam and I endured quite a drive from home into the city on Saturday night, but in the end, it was well worth it.

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The place is styled with lots of old wood, leather couches, interesting light fixtures, and even has a speakeasy-style bar in the basement.

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The cocktails are definitely something to rave about. They're carefully mixed with interesting ingredients, and I most definitely enjoyed these two (at different times, mind you)

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On the left, a "Corpse Reviver" featuring brokers gin, lillet blanc, cointreau, lemon, and absinthe. I also had one "Deaths Door Daisy", mixed with vodka, aperol, st. germain, and lemon. Let's just say that the first trip down the steep flight of stairs to the bathroom was a challenge...and don't even get me started on wrestling with my Spanx!

Then, the food started coming. We ordered some things, and my sister sent us some things, and everything was, in a word, fantastic.

Starters:

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Fresh cut french fries with garlic aoili

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Fois Gras mousse with grain mustard and cornichon

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White corn bread (apparently someone's grandma's recipe) with green garlic and goat butter

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Fresh salad with market peaches and manchengo cheese

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A (slightly blurry) roasted beet salad with cashews and cashew butter

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A salad of thinly sliced root vegetables and a creamy vinaigrette (my favorite salad!)

There were so many entrees that came to the table that I really lost track as to what everyone ordered (I know, bad blogger!) However, I made darn sure to get pictures of what Adam and I ordered. There were so many things we wanted to try that we ordered two things and split them.

First was a house-made ricotta-stuffed gnocchi with brown butter and sage. I have never in all my gnocchi eating days enjoyed a gnocchi quite like this one. I don't know how they did it, and I'm not sure I want to know, but I do know that I'll be wanting these again soon.

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We also ordered a chicken salad sandwich. It was on rustic bread with pea shoots, shaved asparagus, avocado, and a touch of lemon. Yep, definitely one of the best chicken salad sandwiches ever.

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On the side we ordered creamed corn made from local corn, fresh cream, jalapeños, and fresh chives. I'll be attempting a healthier remake of this soon... it was, in Gina's words, face-rocking.

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Then came the desserts. We were instructed from early in the night that we would not need to order dessert as Leigh would be sending us things she thought we'd like. Little did we know that it would be one (or more) of everything. I'm going to do my best to remember what everything was, but I can't promise I'll be accurate with the names. Leigh, if you can correct me, that would be fabulous! While the names won't be accurate, I can say one thing: each and every dessert was more interesting and better than the next. None of them were sickeningly sweet, and each had a perfect balance of flavor. All of these are her creations, and I couldn't be prouder of her!

Desserts:

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Super-dark chocolate truffles

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Handmade candies: Strawberry jelly candy, salted peanut caramels, nougat

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Peach butter cake with creme fraiche

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Chocolate peanut butter pudding with cocoa croutons

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My official birthday cake: perfect carrot cake with cream cheese ice cream

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Blackberry sundae with fresh berries, brown sugar crumble, and homemade ice cream

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Cherry topped Financier (Chocolate-almond cake) with fresh ice cream

After we were all sufficiently stuffed, I opened my birthday gifts. I received many cupcake-themed gifts, some geek gifts, and some foodie gifts... Everyone was so generous and thoughtful! I'm truly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life! Thank you all for a wonderful celebration!

I did remember to get a few pictures with some of the guests in attendance!

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Me and none other than Jenn!!

After dinner, which luxuriously lasted over 3 hours, Adam and I headed back towards the suburbs to spend a night in a deluxe hotel suite. It was so nice to be "away" to conclude my birthday celebration. We enjoyed a relaxing evening together, and it definitely felt like a vacation.

Thank you everyone, again, for making this birthday one of my most memorable! I'm truly grateful for each and every one of you!

I've loved hearing about your memorable birthdays on the Chavrie Contest Post, and I'll pick a winner for that contest on Friday, August 6.

I'll see you tomorrow night for a Wednesday in Numbers!

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12 Responses to Gilt is Good

  1. VeggieGirl says:

    In-freaking-credible birthday celebration!

  2. Wei Wei says:

    Aww, happy birthday! Does cooking run in th family? Your sister looks like a great pastry chef.

    Wei Wei

  3. Happy belated birthday, Mara!!

    Wow, Gilt looks utterly amazing! All of the food looks exquisite. Love the variety! Excellent choice for a birthday celebration. 🙂

    Jenn
    Jenn (Jenn’s Menu and Lifestyle Blog)´s last blog post ..East Meets West Meets South

  4. Aw that looks like a blast and you look so cute and happy!

    I am seriously drooling over the food. YUM!
    Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat)´s last blog post ..Buitoni Pasta Review and dinner ala Andy

  5. Marianne says:

    Look at all those amazing dishes you had at your b-day party. The gnocchi sounds lovely, as do all those desserts (although the chocolate croutons interest me the most). Can you believe I’ve never had creamed corn? It kinds sounds…wrong. Plus I think I always picture the crap that comes from a can, and it looks…wrong. LOL.
    Marianne´s last blog post ..Celebrate BC

  6. Mama Pea says:

    Hey gorgeous!

    I think I need a Gilt trip. (groan)

    Sorry, your title totally set me up.
    Mama Pea´s last blog post ..Like Looking in the Mirror

  7. Lauren says:

    Okay, so this runs in the family!! Congrats to your sister. The food looks amazing! 🙂
    Lauren´s last blog post ..Feel the Burn

  8. Yay! What a beautiful post – I am in love with your camera! I’m so excited that we got to support both you and your sister on the same evening. 🙂 I had such a great time and enjoyed every bite. I will definitely be writing my own version of the night’s events soon – and as you know, may steal some of the pictures that failed on my camera. You are convincing me more and more to upgrade!!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY ONE MORE TIME!! 🙂
    Jenn (eating bender)´s last blog post ..Eating My Chops

  9. Melissa says:

    OMG that is FOOD PORN! Looks amazing, will have to hit this place up next time I’m in Chicago!
    Melissa´s last blog post ..New Page- BUMP

  10. you need a warning on this post to NOT view while hungry! Off to the kitchen I go, but first I need to wipe the drool off my chin. What a great b-day celebration – way to start your 30s in style!

  11. mom says:

    My gorgeous daughters!!! happy birthday. so so proud of both of you.

  12. I’m finally catching up on blogs! what a wonderful birthday dinner with great friends!!! i wish your bday would have been a bit later i could have been there to celebrate with you…i’m insanely jealous.

    but i can’t wait to see you this weekend!!!!!!
    Melissa @ TryingToHeal´s last blog post ..Doozy

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