Strawberry Bucket List 2014

Strawberries are (finally) in season. These things are constantly some of the most feverishly anticipated ingredients of the year, but especially this year given their delayed season. Across the city, restaurants and bars are making up for the slow start with a slew of strawberry ceations. 

Michael Jordan's Steak House
(Cheesecake is on at Michael Jordan's Steak House)

The Boarding House: When it comes to showcasing seasonal, summery fruits, cobbler is key. At The Boarding House, pastry chef Julia Fitting celebrates strawberries in all their sweet glory with a new farm strawberry cobbler. Served in adorable mini cast-iron pans, the cobblers come bedecked with creme fraiche for a splash of tang. As the summer progresses, cobblers at the restaurant will feature various seasonal fruits from Nichols Farm. 

Paramount Events: Strawberries are all over the menus at Paramount Events, from appetizers to drinks to desserts. It's strawberries every which way! Start your event with a frisee and sorrel salad with balsamic- and black pepper-macerated strawberries, whipped goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, pickled rhubarb, mint, basil, and olive oil. Follow that with a strawberry-basil mojito made with macerated strawberries, Myers’s Light Rum, lime juice, mint, basil, and club soda. For dessert, there's lemon olive oil cake with balsamic-macerated strawberries, buttermilk caramel, pine nuts, mint, and basil, as well as a simple, sublime preparation of balsamic-macerated strawberries and Brie on walnut raisin toast. 

RA Sushi: Some of the most inventive uses of strawberries right now can be found at RA Sushi. Unless you deem banana split-inspired maki to be typical. RA's version of sushi for dessert features fried banana maki topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit, and a drizzle of raspberry and chocolate sauces. The sushi restaurant is also shaking up Strawberry Saketinis with Absolut Citron, Nigori sake, strawberry puree, and lemon juice. 

Bread & Wine: If it's a John Lennon-inspired strawberry cocktail you desire, boy are you in luck! The Mimi Smith at Bread & Wine is a drink named for John Lennon's aunt, who told him to go to Strawberry Fields as a child, thus inspiring some of the lyrics. The drink contains muddled strawberry, rosemary, and lemon peel with gin, fresh lemon juice, and strawberry simple syrup. It's all capped with a splash of Prosecco, a sugar rim, and a lemon peel and strawberry garnish. Lennon would love it. 

Shaw's Crab House: When it comes to seasonal springtime dining at Shaw's Crab House, one might assume it's all about the soft-shell crabs. But don't overlook the dessert menu, currently home to sensational strawberry shortcake and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. The former contains housemade buttermilk biscuits, Mick Klug strawberries, and fresh whipped cream, while the latter features housemade vanilla bean ice cream and more Klug fruits. 

RA Sushi
(Banana split maki at RA Sushi)

MAX's Wine Dive: The restaurant just opened in Wicker Park, but MAX's Wine Dive is wasting no time grabbing spring/summer by the horns. One of the stars of their weekend brunch menu is vanilla bean French toast made with thick Texas toast, macerated strawberries, and maple syrup from Indiana's Burton's Maplewood Farm. 

Anteprima: At Andersonville's quintessential Italian haunt, they think outside the strawberry box. Case in point, Anteprima is serving up strawberry and spinach risotto and pickled green strawberries foraged from Indiana, to be included on salumi plates. 

Ombra: Just down the block, Anteprima's sister spot Ombra is embracing strawberries in its own right. Look no further than the Strawberry-Rhubarb Bellini and Strawberry-Basil Bellini. Also: Strawberry-Ginger Bellini. It's strawberry bellini-palooza! 

Michael Jordan's Steak House: In terms of strawberry desserts, there's a lot more than shortcake to be had out there. i.e. this sensational confection at Michael Jordan's Steak House: strawberry balsamic cheesecake with strawberry rhubarb purée and Greek yogurt sorbet. 

Vie: Showcasing strawberries innate knack for sweet AND savory, Paul Virant flexes his creative, seasonal muscles at Vie. The dish sounds like a composed cheese plate, featuring blue cheese fritters, fresh strawberries, strawberry-rhubarb jam, pickled fennel, shaved radishes, and arugula. 

Sepia: One of the best ways to showcase intense strawberry flavor is via chilled soup. Particularly when said soup is being served by Andrew Zimmerman at Sepia. The restaurant's strawberry gazpacho is a real stunner, toeing the line betwixt sweet and savory with whipped mascarpone, black pepper, and almonds. 

Waffles: Looking for an apt excuse to eat dessert at an early hour? It's Waffles to the rescue, with their red velvet, strawberry-laced waffles. The lustrous stunners feature strawberry cream cheese, fresh strawberries as bright as Dorothy's slippers, and a chocolate drizzle. 

Fulton Market Kitchen: The strawberry cocktail at Fulton Market Kitchen basically sounds like the best thing ever, starting with the saucy name: False Sense of Insecurity. Meow. The drink is the handiwork of beverage director Brian Sturgulewski, who combines vodka with housemade strawberry syrup, cynar, Licor 43, crushed ice, cinnamon, and strawberries.   

Summer House Santa Monica: Panna cotta has a way with making everything seem drastically more elegant. Case in point, a particularly entrancing dessert at Summer House Santa Monica made with Greek yogurt, strawberry, rhubarb, and pistachios atop a bed of silken panna cotta. 

Mott Street: Ah, duck heart and strawberries. As classic as PB&J. Or not really. But regardless, you'll want to give the combo a try at Mott Street, served with basil and celery. 

- Matt Kirouac