Ever since Jason and I started hosting Christmas Eve dinner, we have set aside Christmas Eve Eve as date night. It started the first year because we had been doing so much work and planning and cleaning and really needed to get out of the house, take a deep breath and relax with eachother before the onslaught.
The last 3 years we have had our Christmas Eve Eve date night dinner at Think, a BYOB restaurant on the edge between Bucktown and Logan Square. We've had many dinners there and always a lovely time and have always enjoyed deciding what wine will be the special wine for the year.
Unfortunately, Think closed recently and we were forced to rethink our date location. We decided to go with Magnolia, a great neighborhood restaurant in Uptown. The website doesn't do them justice and unfortunately I didn't take any photos. But the interior is simple and warm, with exposed brick and beamed ceilings and minimimalist photos on the walls.
As an appetizer we split the mussels which were delicious. Some of the largest mussels I've had in a long time, served in the proverbial white wine and fennel sauce with a baguette.
For an entree we split the grilled beef tenderloin which was topped with braised short ribs, served over spinach with a couple of ricotta dumplings on the side. It was fantastic. The idea of the beef tenderloin short rib combo threw me in theory but worked perfectly in actuality. The short ribs were used sparingly on top of the tenderloin and added a touch of sweetness and an interesting textural contrast.
To drink we brought the 2002 Concha y Toro Don Melchor that I had given Jason for Christmas about 3 years ago.
A perfect Christmas Eve Eve to get us in the Christmas spirit.