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SAVOR Homestead on the Roof; Big Gay Ice Cream at Nico
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times...

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Have you ever seen one of those print ads or commercials where people dine in a picturesque outdoor setting—while eating perfect-looking dishes and laughing?

Well, that can happen to you, courtesy of Homestead on the Roof ( 1924 W. Chicago Ave.; ), which looks like it's straight from one of those advertisements—complete with the strings of lights that crisscross the spot.

Homestead, which sits atop Roots Homemade Pizza ( which has some pretty nice fare itself ), has reopened for spring and summer. Moreover, Executive Chef Jesse Badger presents items that are mash-ups of American and global influences.

And the indelible impressions start with a bread basket that's second to none. ( Even if you're carb-phobic, you're going to be tempted. ) Current selections include pain rustic, cumin pretzel, buttermilk sourdough, honey pecan and mini-challah—that's all that needs to be said ( or typed ).

From there, it's a gustatory adventure, complete with items like "Caprazy" ( tomato sushi, chrysanthemum pesto, blistered tomato salad, Genovese basil ); five-way beet ( with spiced pistachios and goat cheese ); coal-charred asparagus topped with balls of deep-fried hollandaise; Italian beef tartare ( a novel twist on Chicago's traditional Italian beef, complete with duck egg yolk ); and pork chop and pie ( complete with a savory pie of rhubarb, bacon and sausage ). And please don't miss out on the mashed potatoes, which come in such varieties as classic, roasted garlic, brown butter, miso ( yes, miso ) and black truffle.

Lastly, dessert ensures the meal ends on a high note, thanks to items like tiramisu; strawberry shortcake creme brulee; and deconstructed S'mores ( topped with chocolate Pop-Rocks ).

All of this is enjoyed in a setting that allows views of the wonderful rooftop garden that's the source of many of Homestead's ingredients. If the weather's agreeable, it's an unforgettable experience.

Big Gay Ice Cream social

With Chicago celebrating Pride Month ( culminating in last weekend's Pride Parade ), it made perfect sense for New York City-based Big Gay Ice Cream to make an appearance in the city.

On June 22, Big Gay Ice Cream stopped by Nico Osteria, 1015 N. Rush St., collaborating with Nico Pastry Chef Leigh Omilinsky to create several dishes, including Dirty Banana ( caramelized banana and brown sugar ice cream and a cacao-nib biscotti ), Apricot Gobbler ( a mini-pie crust filled with a scoop of roasted vanilla ice cream, topped with a spot of bourbon and apricot-infused whipped cream ) and Out & Proud Pops ( raspberry-, coconut- or mango-flavored freeze pops, submerged in a shot of tequila ), among others.

Nico offered the dishes all of Pride Weekend, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Howard Brown Health.

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

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