Some places to get good coffee, Chicago Edition

We love coffee. We love to go out and get coffee. We spend a great deal of time with coffee. Lucky for us, Chicago has a ton of excellent coffee houses and cafes. Here are some of our faves so far.

Intelligentsia, multiple locations. Ours is 3123 North Broadway, Lakeview, Chicago, 60657.

Seriously. We moved to Chicago without coming here first. I only had Google Maps to help me decide where to live. When I saw Intelligentsia, I knew this was going to be our neighborhood.

Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia Coffee

 

City Grounds Coffeebar: 507 W. Dickens, Lincoln Park, Chicago, 60614

Really good espresso in a clean, contemporary space. The regular coffee is the pour-over kind, yummy.

City Grounds, Chicago

City Grounds, Chicago

Cafe Latte at City Grounds, Lincoln Park, Chicago

Cafe latte at City Grounds, Lincoln Park, Chicago

Bourgeois Pig Cafe: 738 W. Fullerton Parkway, Lincoln Park, Chicago, 60614

Cool old house with brick and wood. A nice patio in the summer. Good food, espressos and delicious huge cakes (the best carrot cake I’ve had in awhile). YUM!

Cafe latte and decadent carrot cake at Bourgeois Pig Cafe, Chicago

Cafe latte and decadent carrot cake at Bourgeois Pig Cafe, Chicago

Vintage ceiling at Bourgeois Pig Cafe, Chicago

Vintage ceiling at Bourgeois Pig Cafe, Chicago

 

Oinkety fave: Montague’s Parlour Colorado Springs

Montague’s Parlour at 1019 South Tejon Street deserves its own post because it is so charming and has the best cake in the city, maybe even in the state. Plus they have really good hours and stay open late most days.

The decor is full-on granny old lady tea parlour, which I didn’t like at first, but it eventually grew on me. Think mismatched antique tables and chairs and vintage china.

Linda, Tori, and Mike at Montague's Parlour

Linda, Tori, and Mike at Montague's Parlour

They serve lots of different soups, salads, sandwiches and daily quiches. They have a decent vegetarian selection and breakfast on the weekends.

Cream of Broccoli soup at Montague's Parlour

Cream of Broccoli soup at Montague's Parlour

Pot pie and chili from Montegue's Parlour

Pot pie and chili from Montague's Parlour

Delicious turkey on croissant at Montague's Parlour

Delicious turkey on croissant at Montague's Parlour

These are the best cakes in the state!

These are the best cakes in the state!

The most fabulous coconut cake- you have to try this cake

The most fabulous coconut cake — you have to try this cake. This particular cake is the best cake on earth.

They also have breakfast pastries like croissants, scones, danish, etc.

They also have breakfast pastries like croissants, scones, danishes, etc.

Lots of different drinks, too. This is an Italian cream soda.

Lots of different drinks, too. This is an Italian cream soda.

Many many different kinds of tea, both hot and iced.

Many many different kinds of tea, both hot and iced.

Assorted espressos, teas, and snacks. Something for everyone at Montague's.

Assorted espressos, teas, and snacks. Something for everyone at Montague's.

If you haven’t been to Montague’s, you should go. You’ll like it.

Olive Branch: A

Downtown having some coffee at Pikes Perk and relaxing a little on a Friday afternoon, everything’s going well. No troubles at all. Thinking maybe we’ll go home and build a fire and play some cards. Maybe some Boggle.

Phone rings, and it’s Mom. She says, hey, we’re in your ‘hood and thinking you guys might like to join us for dinner at the Olive Branch. Pass up the Olive Branch? One of our favorite downtown eateries! No way. We’re there. Of course we lost our parking spot already, so we had to find another one and walk a couple blocks.

Fine. At any rate, as always, excellent food at the Olive Branch. I had the chicken pot pie. Adrienne had lasagna; Paul had a ravioli item (spinach?); and Mom had some soup and a salad. Again, outstanding food, and of course some great company. Thanks for dinner, guys!

Pikes Perk, downtown Colorado Springs

Chocolate cake at Pikes Perk, downtown Colorado Springs

Soup and salad at the Olive Branch restaurant, downtown Colorado Springs

Mom's soup and salad at the Olive Branch, Colorado Springs.

Paul's ravioli item

Paul's ravioli item

Olive Branch pot pie

The Olive Branch pot pie was delicious.

Adrienne's lasagna at the Olive Branch, downtown Colorado Springs

Olive Branch lasagna

Olive Branch, downtown Colorado Springs

Paul, Adrienne, Linda at the Olive Branch downtown.


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Baking at high altitude

So, from time to time I bake. I had heard when I first got here that things are different up here at 6200 feet and that I’d need to make some changes.

I never had much problem till I tied to make red velvet cupcakes. They exploded then sank (they were still delish). I asked around and everyone treated me like I was nuts, that there’s really no difference in baking up here. Except that there are actual books written about it. Those people probably bake from mixes (snicker and eye roll). I didn’t want to BUY another cookbook, especially since I don’t really bake that often. So I didn’t think about it again and had some success with other recipes.

Then the other day I made a buttermilk pound cake and had the same problem of it exploding then sinking (it was also tasty). I gave it some thought and determined that the common denominator was buttermilk. There must be something different you need to do with buttermilk.

I googled it and got some different remedies, changes in ingredients, etc and then I made  buttermilk banana bread. It was better, it sank a little and exploded a little but in the end it looked pretty normal and tasted great- it was very moist and flavorful. I think all it needed was to have less batter put in the pan before baking.

So today I’m making a chocolate loaf cake. With buttermilk. It made a TON of batter. I only filled the pan half full- and I can probably make two more cakes! Maybe that’s the secret. Just fill the pan less? What do you think? Do you bake  with buttermilk at high altitude? The cake is still in the oven but I’ll let you know how it comes out! Once I get some good recipes going, I’ll post them here because I haven’t found a lot in the way of actual high altitude recipes online.

Ok, so the chocolate loaf cake came out OK. It wasn’t super awesome or anything and it was just the tiniest bit too dry. It made two loaves. I adapted a recipe I found on cooks.com for both the cake and the frosting. Here are the recipes. Next time I’ll use an additional egg to try and combat the slight dryness of the cake.

2 sticks butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs (I’ll use 4 next time)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4th tsp baking soda

2  cups flour + 1/2 cup flour

Cream butter and sugar in a big bowl.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.

Melt chocolate in microwave or saucepan then mix it with the 1/2 cup flour (this was in the original recipe, not sure why they did it this way)

Add chocolate mixture to butter and sugar mixture.

Mix baking soda with flour and then add flour and buttermilk to butter and sugar  mixture, alternating between them.

Fill a loaf pan only 1/2 to 2/3rds full at the most. Bake at 325 degrees in the lowest third of the oven. I think my oven is off kilter and I may have cooked it at 300 degrees.  I have an oven thermometer and that’s what it said, but I don’t really know how accurate that is either. I think I baked it for around 45 minutes. I started checking at after 25 minutes.

Here’s the cake:

buttermilk chocolate loaf cake at high altitude

buttermilk chocolate loaf cake

The frosting is:

1/4 cup butter

3 TBS buttermilk

2  tsp vanilla- I used that vanilla bean paste stuff that has little vanilla bean flecks in it — it’s really good!

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt the butter and buttermilk together, then add the vanilla. Then mix in the powdered sugar.  I didn’t use a mixer for this, just did it by hand. Add more powdered sugar if it seems too thin or more buttermilk if it seems too thick.

buttermilk chocolate cake with vanilla frosting

buttermilk chocolate cake with vanilla frosting