Making the umami burger: at home
Village Green: Ridgewood, NJ

La Sirena Clandestina: Chicago, IL

It's been a few weeks since we ate very, very well in Chicago. Since that time I've forgotten most specifics, but it would be silly to not report on our meal at La Sirena Clandestina, one which I recall as a contender for the best meal of the trip, even though the details are pretty much history.

So here it is, a high-level overview of what I think was a super meal.

t:e reader "Curlz" (@curlz66) pointed me in the direction of La Sirena Clandestina.  A quick review of the website showed a short, concise and focused menu, a smallish restaurant, and an interesting cocktail list. This is exactly what I was looking for.


We grabbed two seats at the smallish bar, and my eyes immediately started getting all googly, staring at all of the pretty bottles.  We dove right into the short, concise cocktail list.

I'm pretty sure the first one out of the gate was a their version of a Pisco Sour. Well done. I do have to remind myself that I'm not digging cocktails with egg whites. They taste and feel great at first sip, but they tend to start smelling of wet dog after a few minutes. I either have to avoid ordering them, or just drink 'em really fast. If fact that sounds like a better plan.

Hey, what's this, another cocktail coming my way? You betcha. What was it? I totally forget. But with all of those tattoos and suspenders behind the bar, you just know it was great.

Holy cow, what the hell is this? Yet another cocktail? Sure, why not. Cucumbers and cocktails. What a wonderful marriage.

The food menu read really well, and we had a hard time narrowing our selection down to four dishes.

We started with the Malagueta Crab Salad, which is crab, avocado, cilantro, and who knows what else. Try to find a flaw. Go ahead. I dare you. Can't do it.

La Sirena is supposed to be known for their ceviche. I have no idea what the ceviche was that day, but I know I enjoyed it, and I know it looked like this:

They have this dish called La Bomba Rice, which the menu describes as "roasted sweet corn, summer squash, serrano peppers, manchego." A creamy, luscious, sweet bowl of rice and corn and cheese oh my. Didn't even have a chance to take a picture of this dish. It was gone in record time. I'll ask for a fat straw next time. It was probably one of the top dishes during this trip. Hell, it was the top dish of this trip. I'm going on record.

Whole, fried fish, peanuts, cilantro, hot sauce. Sort of a Latin and Asian thing. I was all about this crispy damned fish, and you should be, too.

Our bartender was perfectly fine, and responded quickly and kindly to questions and the usual inquisition that I put servers through. There was a misstep with having the food fired, though: it all came out at the same time. All four dishes. I couldn't have that, even though we try to avoid sending food back. Two dishes were whisked away. When the second course came back, it was delivered by a chef (the chef, John Manion?) personally, and he engaged us a bit regarding the fish. "I picked a plump one for you guys." A nice touch.

La Sirena is certainly worth your consideration.

La Sirena Clandestina : 954 W. Fulton Market : 312.226.5300



View Larger Map