Andy and I were excited to work with Chicago Fire because it’s so close to home and we had actually been there before a few times (thanks to a $100 gift card that I won at a Christmas party my boss threw last year). Don’t ever try to win Christmas Carol Word Jumble against me. You will lose! 😉
We were able to actually use the gift card twice, so we had already tasted their fabulous version of gluten free pizza and already had a favorite wine we like to drink with our dinner (the Windy City Red blend that Boeger Winery creates just for Chicago Fire). 🙂 We already knew the service was great and were lucky enough once to have a server who had adopted a gluten free diet as well. I am seeing that more often in restaurants and it is very comforting.
It’s been a head-spinning 3 weeks since our visit (my apologies to the team at Chicago Fire for not being a little more timely on this piece–life has been absolutely crazy lately with multiple visits to San Francisco, training for a 20 mile race, working 45 hours a week, and being in the process of moving happening all at once). Still, I remember what a great time Andy and I had that night, and we always enjoy the food at the restaurant. So, here’s a recap of what we ordered:
Starter drinkys!! It was Friday night and I was ready for one of the cocktails I had seen earlier in the day on Chicago Fire’s inventive drink menu! I was interested because I saw a few descriptions that were not going to be sweet (like a lot of other drink menus unfortunately are). I picked the Basil Lemonade with Tito’s vodka muddled with fresh basil & lemon juice over ice. It hit the spot, just as I had imagined it would. Basil and lemon together in my drink, yes please! 🙂 Andy had a glass of Bolla Chianti. OK, now we’re all set…
In an effort to make the entire meal gluten-free, we chose the Baked Artichoke for an appetizer. It’s a whole artichoke, doused with lemony caesar sauce and topped with fresh parmesan cheese. Chicago Fire has quite a Greek influence in their menu and many things are flavored with lemon and garlic. That’s a plus in my book and in Andy’s, too because he is half Greek. 🙂 My favorite part of the artichoke was the cheese on top that had slightly browned and gotten crispy, and the way it tasted with fresh lemon juice on it. It was a great lead in to the salad we ordered.
Next up we tried the Chicken Pesto Salad, which is a favorite of mine. It is made of Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, pesto-marinated artichoke hearts and red onion. We ordered the house made pesto ranch dressing on the side. Pesto is one of my favorite sauces and the dressing that comes with the salad is addictive. 😉 The chicken on the salad was grilled perfectly. I recommend ordering a large size salad because it is perfect for sharing if you are a party of two and plan on ordering a pizza as well.
I wanted to mention the wine pairing we had. This time, we did not order the Windy City Red that we usually drink, but instead went with a Greg Norman 2012 (Santa Barbara) Pinot Noir (because of the lighter nature of ingredients in our salad and our pizza). We chose the Greg Norman Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara) because it was a better value than the other Pinot Noir on the wine list (La Crema).
By now it was pizza time! We decided on the gluten free Greek pizza. The Greek is topped with Gyro meat, white Sauce, Artichoke Hearts, Kalamata Olives, Red Onion, Fresh Tomato, Feta Cheese & Pepperoncini and served with what else? Tzatziki on the side. Love it. My favorite part of the pizza (other than the super crispy edges on the crust were the little slices of Gyro meat that had also gotten super crispy/crunchy in the pizza oven. We squeezed the lemon juice over the slices for an extra burst of flavor and the tzatziki lemon combo was just paradise. It’s a real treat for Andy and I to eat pizza/things with crust/bread at all even if it is gluten free, so it was fun to try the Greek flavor combination on a crust. Bonus points for the presentation, one slice of pizza was slightly propped up with the ramekin that held the tzatziki sauce. Beautiful!
Thanks Chicago Fire, we’ll definitely be back for more very soon! We’ll continue to work our way around the menu of gluten free pizzas. We’ve already tried and given thumbs up to the Stockyard and Chicken Pesto on previous visits. 🙂
Chicago Fire has a loyalty program called Square Points. You can points as soon as you get a Square Points card from your server. By registering online, you’ll be able to redeem your points. Then you can earn more points when you buy food, drinks & merchandise. Some of the rewards from the Square Points membership include a free Deep Dish Delight on your birthday, a free specialty pizza for every 500 points, and free corkage. Of course the term FREE CORKAGE was music to our ears, so we decided to enroll in Square Points, too!
Are you hungry for a visit yet?!?! Good news for you if you aren’t near downtown but live closer to Folsom or Roseville, because in addition to the Midtown location on 2416 J Street, there are 3 other locations: Historic Folsom (Chicago Fire made its debut on Sutter Street in Folsom in March 2003), Folsom at Palladio, and in Roseville at Sunrise/Eureka.
Thanks for the wonderful hospitality and service all the way from the marketing team to the staff at Chicago Fire Midtown. We’ll see you again soon. 🙂
Well, I just found my new favorite restaurant. Unfortunately for me, it’s in Downtown Napa, so I won’t be able to visit as often as I would like. The name of the restaurant is Tarla Mediterranean Grill and they serve cuisine that is a beautiful blend of Turkish and Greek influences. It also happens to be located in the same building as one of my favorite places to stay in Napa, the Avia Hotel.
I picked Tarla Mediterranean Grill not only because of its close proximity to the Uptown Theatre (where we were headed later to see Robert Cray and his band), but it was also a nod to Andy’s heritage. Andy is half-Greek, so I thought it would be the perfect choice for his birthday celebration.
Tarla Mediterranean Grill opened last year, and is owned by Yusuf Topal and his wife Breanna. Yusuf’s background is in hospitality, as he was a former maitre d’ and manager of various cruise ship restaurants.
The head chef is Gerry Castro. He attended CIA and has worked for the likes of Far Niente Winery, Ceja Vineyards, Farmstead Restaurant, and Murray Circle (a Michelin starred restaurant in Sausalito).
The restaurant seats only 46, and has a great patio area if you prefer to dine outside. The interior has a clean, informal, and inviting look with tangerine and olive hues in the decor. There are nice touches to each table including candles and turkish white copper cups (in which water is served to guests).
We kicked off the birthday dinner with a half bottle of Malamatina Retsina, and began the meal with Tarla’s Greek salad. I also ordered a side of hummus to use as a dip for the tomatoes and cucumbers in the salad.
Then we ordered the Meatballs served with caramelized eggplant, bell peppers, and fresh tomato sauce.
For my main course, I ordered the Tiger prawns and diver scallops, served with parsnip puree and pomegranate currant sauce. Everything in the dish is Paleo, and it was the first dish that caught my eye on the menu. It was almost like the chef called Andy, asked him what all my favorite foods are, then put some of them together. It was as wonderful as I imagined.
Andy chose the Fresh Alaskan halibut, which is pistachio crusted and served with vegetable ragu and white wine butter sauce. Again, every ingredient was Paleo and once again, unbelievably good.
We finished our meal with 2 desserts. This usually works because I take one or two bites and then pass over to Andy to finish. That way, nobody is deprived. And it was a special occasion, so what the heck. 🙂
The first dessert was poached apricots stuffed with mascarpone cheese and rolled in pistachios. The sweetness was balanced with the cheese filling, and pistachios just make something that already tastes great, taste even better.
At this point writing my post, I am realizing we really ate a lot of food that night! But wait, there’s more…
The owner brought out a second dessert for us like nothing I have ever seen or tried before! It is called kunefe (shredded phyllo dough baked with shredded coconut and sweet cheese). Not primal or even Paleo, but a nice treat nonetheless. I had a few bites and had Andy finish the rest. The texture and flavor was unlike anything I have ever tried before. Baklava might sound good and traditional, but trust me… try the kunefe. You can thank me later. I liked it so much I am going to work on a gluten-free, sugar free version. 🙂 Just wow.
Other dishes on the menu include spanokopita, calamari, saganaki, chicken and lamb shish kebabs, Turkish stuffed eggplant, and musakka (a traditional dish in both Turkey and Greece). By the way, if you’ve never had saganaki, just do it. It’s amazing.
The other wine we shared at dinner was a 2011 Peju Sauvignon Blanc. The wine list is so reasonable it’s unreasonable! My alcohol bill for the retsina and the sauvignon blanc was only about $35. Also, every Wednesday, the restaurant features a select wine list with bottles 50% off until 7:30pm.
No entree on the menu is over $20, and as you can see in the pictures, the portions are generous.
Tarla Mediterranean Grill is located at 1480 1st Street, Downtown Napa. To contact the restaurant, call (707) 255-5599. Their happy hour is Monday-Friday 3-6pm, and late night happy hour is 8:30-10pm. They are open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday 10am-11pm, and Sunday 10am-10pm.