Freestyle Food + Drink {Review}

This review is long overdue and I finally have a chance to sit down and share the awesome experience I had at Freestyle Food+Drink. I visited this restaurant with my sous chef and girlfriend extraordinaire, Melissa, and we had a blast. Aside from celebrating my birthday with a girls nite out, we had a chance to really enjoy what Freestyle Food+Drink had to offer.

We started out with a few drinks including St. Noir, Chipotle Pineapple Margarita, and a Blueberry Mojito. The margarita was a special addition for Cinco de Mayo and the Blueberry Mojito was also a new drink for the season. These were delicious and a nice, light, refreshing start to the evening...

Next up, we had a few starters. Their guacamole and queso fundido were a perfect pairing with our drinks and a nice beginning to our dinner. I especially loved the presentation of the queso in a mini cast iron pot and the beautiful guacamole...


Soon after, we had a items from their small plates menu come out. I really appreciate how our server, Kevin, took care of us and recommending some great dishes that were also vegetarian friendly. For this round, we received some delicious items to try including...

Sesame Chicken - Chicken is lightly fried and served with baby bok choy, dry chili, soy caramel with a side of steamed rice. This was one of my favorites simply because it had umami all over it. 

Shrimp Toast with Spicy Green Chile - This was a delicious twist to the old school shrimp toast I remember from local Chinese restaurants. It's elegantly done with water chestnuts and the spicy green chile dipping sauce gave it a nice kick!

Rock Shrimp - These were fantastic. Tempura shrimp is tossed with a chili aioli, oven dried pineapple and served with a dusting of garlic ginger crumbs. Definitely one of my favorite dishes of the night!

Hamachi Roll and Futo Maki Roll - The hamachi roll was a great maki roll with asparagus, cucumber and a refreshing yuzu sauce. The Futo Maki Roll is a new addition to the menu and is larger stuffed with tuna and hamachi.

After enjoying these dishes, we had a chance to sit back, relax and talk with Chef Ariel Bagadiong. It turns out after probably 10-15 minutes of talking about food and culture that Melissa and Chef Ariel's familes are both long time family friends! Such a small world and that even made the dinner more memorable for both of us. I really enjoyed learning more about Chef Ariel's perspective on food and culture, which allowed me to appreciate the amazing dishes we had the opportunity to try. 

Chef Ariel also presented us with two desserts - Milk & Cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies with a white chocolate mousse filling, accompanied with ice cold milk; and Donuts, ricotta cheese donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar, served with a bananas foster dipping sauce and a cream cheese mousse. I can't seem to find a picture of these heavenly desserts but I managed to find a picture of the Milk & Cookies from the restaurant's Facebook Page...

Thank you to the folks of Freestyle Food+Drink for a fabulous dinner experience, perfect for celebrating my birthday!

Dana Hotel Restaurant Readies Seasonal Menu, Monthly Grilling and a Package Just for Man’s Best Friend

CHICAGO (April 24, 2014) –freestyle food + drink (located in dana hotel & spa), welcomes the return of warm weather and al fresco dining with its latest seasonal menu, dog friendly dining upgrades and weekly patio grilling throughout the summer. The casual concept’s array of flavors, shareable plates and sustainable ingredients will continue to bring an elevated yet approachable dining experience to the hotel and surrounding River North neighborhood.

Known for pairing both unique and classic ingredients, freestyle’s seasonal menu will feature new shared dishes such as Asian Style Chicken Tacos ($9) with sweet chili glazed crispy chicken on corn tortillas with avocado, cilantro and Filipino-style pickled vegetables; Chicken Lettuce Wraps ($12) stir fried chicken, water chestnuts, garlic, woodear mushroom, jalapeno, bean sprouts, mint and Thai basil; Salmon Crudo ($11) Scottish salmon with a pineapple salsa and wonton chips; and the Summer Roll Futo Maki($16) with tamago, tuna, Hamachi, avocado, cucumber, cilantro and jalapeno. Whether grabbing a post work bite, an intimate meal for two, or a group of friends looking to share the latest dish, freestyle food + drink is suited for a mix of experiences that any guest can make their own.

Guests can also satisfy a single craving with signature dishes such as the Crispy Duck Leg($29) seared confit duck leg with a corn, cauliflower, Brussels sprout succotash, topped with a mustard cream sauce; and  Grilled Salmon ($21) atop creamy polenta, roasted mushroom and garlic jus. Top off the experience with fresh libations such as the Chipotle Pineapple Margarita, a Classic Old Fashioned and the Hibikiss with Absolut citron, hibiscus syrup and raspberry puree topped with soda and a hibiscus flower.

Taking full advantage of Chicago’s need for patio season, the restaurant will also be launching monthly patio grilling for lunch on Tuesdays starting May 6. Guests will find freestyle’s Executive Chef Ariel Bagadiong grilling on the outdoor patio highlighting international tastes such as Latin, Mediterranean, American and Asian. Freestyle will also up the ante on being dog friendly and offer a package available only to our four legged best friends. For an extra $10, patio goers will be able to treat their pooch to a pampering experience including lush pet pillow for relaxation, a doggy bowl with water and a doggie dessert that is sure to make any guest drool.

Sharing your passion for good tastes, freestyle food + drink, opened in July 2013 and is led by Executive Chef Ariel Bagadiong. The casual concept’s array of flavors, shareable plates, and sustainable ingredients bring an elevated yet approachable dining experience to the hotel and surrounding River North neighborhood. Sharing your passion for good tastes, freestyle food + drink is located inside the dana hotel and spa at 660 N State and is open seven days a week serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. For more information, please visit

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