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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SAVOR Boleo, The Whistler
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-02-27

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It's interesting to see the Loop during the week. As soon as five o'clock hits, droves of people leave the office-laden area as quickly as possible to head for relaxation, family or one of a thousand other reasons.

However, the drawback to this daily mass exodus is that people often miss gems like Boleo ( 122 W. Monroe St.; BoleoChicago.com ), the rooftop bar that adorns the top of the Kimpton Gray Hotel.

Of course, during the winter, the top of Boleo is closed. However, the space still radiates a coolness of its own, bathed in neon blues and pinks—but there's also a heat generated from everything from the spot's impressive drink lists and cuisine offerings to the nonstop dance music ( although, sadly, there's no dance space—although it's understandable, with Boleo on top of a hotel ).

The food and drinks reflect a primarily Latin American influence, with cocktails such as the Agave Especiado ( nutmeg-infused casa noble reposado, vida mezcal, anise, clove bitters and Jamaican #1 bitters ), the delightful and visually vivid Dancehall President ( Banks 7 rum, novo fogo grasiosa, blackberry lychee, pineapple, lime and black lava salt ) and, of course, the pisco sour—which originated in Peru. There are also many options regarding beer, wine and spirits ( the latter including varieties of pisco, cachaca, rum, vodka, rum and more ).

The culinary offerings—by David Wang, the spot's chef de cuisine—is spot-on and delicious from beginning to end. Stop by during happy hour ( 4:30-7 p.m. weekdays ) and take advantage of such delicious anticuchos ( meat dishes/skewers ) with varieties such as gamba ( prawns ) and char siu ( a sumptuous pork belly ).

The hits keep coming with items such as ceviche de meagre ( a tangy dish that's almost too aggressively flavored ), a stunningly presented tuna tiradito ( sliced yellowfin tuna, pineapple, aji amarillo and puffed shrimp ), yucca fries with aioli and elote fritters that I could've eaten all night.

And even the desserts are top-notch. The chocolate mousse bomb consists of Peruvian chocolate, puffed quinoa, aji amarillo chocolate cake and hibiscus—and the wonderful ice cream has variations like vanilla cajeta and mazamorra morado ( the latter tasting like Christmas ).

So before hitting home from a long day at work, take time and unwind at Boleo. You'll be glad you did.

The Whistler

The decade-old Logan Square spot The Whistler ( 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.; whistlerchicago.com/ ) has entertained patrons—and now there's a new reason to hit the space, as Marina Holter has brought her innovative ideas as head bartender.

There are several cocktails that will acquaint your taste buds to new and intriguing combinations of ingredients. For example, the Opening Credits cocktail has a fat-washed, popcorn-infused Fino sherry that gives the drink a strong buttery taste. Clear the Air has a smokey high-proof mezcal mixed with blanc vermouth and Luxardo bitters—and Holter even made me a pineapple-and-honey-infused mocktail that made me long for summer.

So while enjoying one of the many forthcoming shows at The Whistler ( which, honestly, is a bit smaller than I envisioned—but no less enjoyable ), take in one of Holter's concoctions. ( By the way, the drink menu varies daily, so you may have to order a couple of the previously mentioned items off the menu. )

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.


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