Chicago O'Hare

When the team came to me about hosting a Fall Preview Dinner at The Ashburn, I thought it was an obvious no-brainer. A dozen new dishes, made from scratch and years of culinary love from Chef Jose “Tiny” Garay, were worthy of their time in the spotlight and on the palates of our local foodie influencers. This past September, we partnered up with two very creative, talented and fun fellow foodies; Briana and Chamere of A Full Living. (If you haven’t checked out their blog, I highly recommend because their photography is stunning.)

The evening involved loads of family-style dishes — a sneak peek of the new menu items that Chef has in store for the winter.

Chef Jose is proud of his work and the “family-like” work ethic among his team, so it was no surprise he was the hit of the night when he came out to talk about the inspiration behind every dish. His endearing, sweet yet slightly shy personality was so welcoming to the crowd that each time he reappeared from behind the line with a new dish, it felt like we were awaiting the arrival of a culinary celebrity. With every dish came a story that was rooted in his upbringing and family traditions — how he became the creative muse behind the Angus Beef Pizzadilla, Firewood Roasted Trout and the Guinness Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs that I will soon be revealing in a mouthwatering photo…

With so many themed and hyper-specific restaurants popping up lately, it can be hard to find a place with an approachable menu and inviting atmosphere that the whole family can enjoy. Not to mention, one with healthy portion sizes. Which is why The Ashburn and our new Fall/Winter dishes are sure to warm the soul this season.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Loews Hotels & Co. media preview dinner if we didn’t incorporate our Flavor by Loews Hotels partners. From the first sips of a refreshing cocktail to the savory flavors of the new entrees and the sweet finishes of the decadent desserts, our local artisan partners were a part of this special night.

First up was the super crafty (but not pretentious) cocktails that our group sipped on while chatting and mingling. All are light and refreshing, utilizing fresh ingredients and showcasing a playful twist on classic concoctions. Insider Tip: One of the best-sellers and my favorite (because who doesn’t like a quality coffee cocktail?), is the Propeller, perfectly named as it will keep you moving through the day with espresso, caramel, Bailey’s and Hangar 1 Vodka.

Photo credit: A Full Living

Now, when Chef said he would be doing family-style service, I didn’t realize I’d be seeing such a mountain of food like I did that night. It was mesmerizing to see the colorful ingredients pop off the plates in the quinoa salad and the hear the crunch of the tortilla strips on the famed Ashburn Chopped Salad (pictured below).

Photo credit: A Full Living

Chef followed up the first course with some truly unique and elevated twists on dishes you would normally consider “street food.” Chef took what he knew best from his childhood and perfected it to create one of my now must-eat treats, the Angus Beef Pizzadilla. Insider tip: the guac isn’t extra $, so go for it.

A Angus Beef Pizzadilla fit for a king!
Photo credit: A Full Living

Then it was time for the main courses to make their grand appearance. And by grand … I do mean grand.

Guinness Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs
Photo credit: A Full Living

Will you just look at that trout? It’s glazed to perfection! My mouth is watering…

Firewood Roasted Trout
Photo credit: A Full Living

Now, it wouldn’t be a well-rounded meal without some of the best side dishes, served in cute little cast-iron skillets of their own…

Roasted Root Vegetables, Poblano Mashed Potatoes, and Elotes.
Photo credit: A Full Living

Now that I’ve got you all hungry to try the new menu at The Ashburn, don’t forget to check out our friends Briana and Chamere’s blog at A Full Living for a full run-down of the evening and their take on the flavors that await your arrival this winter.

Until next time, buon appetito!

Kelly