So I'm still on the diet, or trying to stay on it, at least, so when Steamer and I decided to paint the town red, I was looking for a low-cal shade. I figured sushi would be the safest bet. So long as I exercise a good deal of restraint, I can stick with a slim meal of miso soup, salad and sashimi, and feel plenty satisfied for it.
We decided to try Butterfly Sushi Bar & Thai Cuisine, 1156 W. Grand Ave., on for size, mainly because of its location—in River West, close to where Steamer and I would be peddling that evening. I got there a bit early and walked along the 1200 block of Grand Avenue, kicking myself for never getting from the "thinking" to the "doing" part of dining on the street. Its smattering of restaurants show a good deal of possibility, and as Steamer struggled to lock his bike I babbled the names of more places to add to our impossibly long to-eat list. (These can go near the bottom, though. Hearty Italian needs to stay in the wings for a few more weeks).
Though my sushi love is high, my expectations for sushi/Thai hybrids are pretty low. They're usually fine, but not too fabulous, a sort of traditional combination of okayness. Butterfly Sushi rocked my stereotype-laden world.
For one, it's hip. Drippingly hip, with sleek black furniture lining the very long space, bright orange walls, high ceilings and pendant lighting that left the packed restaurant's patrons shadowed in this-is-urban-living light. It wasn't too much, but it was enough to make me wish I wasn't wearing a ratty sweatshirt and keep-me-warm boots.
We were shown to a table that seemed a little to close to a monster plant for me (seaweed is fine, leaves are not), so we opted to sit at the empty sushi bar. It was a fantastic choice, because I have never put my tush in such comfortable bar stools. The cream, fabric-colored chairs had high backs and a sink-into-me cushion that made for pure comfort.
With nothing to complain about, we opened the menu and pulled out the wine, a Viognier de Pennautier by Vignobles Lorgeril that Steamer had picked up from Binny's. When I asked him why he chose the bottle, ready to take important notes for the column (Viognier tends to be softer, fruity and less acidic, which is why my sushi default skews more Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc), he gave me a flat, "It was 10 bucks," and went back to reading the menu. Well, OK!
The bottle hadn't been chilled, so we plopped it in an ice bucket and kicked off our meal with two miso soups and cucumber salads, the latter of which turned out to be a huge, diet-friendly serving of, yep, cucumber, topped off with four slivers onion. From there, we went nigiri-crazy (rationalizing that a little rice won't hurt), ordering yellowtail, mackerel, white tuna, salmon, tuna and seabass for each of us.
The portions were sizeable and fresh, but, per usual, Zinny's stomach was just as big as her eyes...and the sushi bar was rolling some crazy stuff, massive rolls that looked too good to resist. So, after draining my first glass of wine in a near-record week (peachy and a little warm, but so needed) I gave an unrestrained thumbs up to Steamer's order of the $14 Godzilla maki.
It was everything I think sushi shouldn't be: gigantic, drenched in tempura crunchies and lacking fresh slivers of fish. It had cream cheese in it, for godsakes. But man, was it good. Though pricey, it was practically two roll's worth, with pieces so large I could hardly tackle them in one bite. And let me tell you, after a week of tofu salad dinners, the seemingly unpleasant combo of avocado, cream cheese and tempura shrimp was like sipping lemonade on a scorcher of a day—just what the doctor ordered.
Unfortunately, my doctor these days is Lean Cuisine, PhD, but as I scraped the last crunchies off the plate and sipped the last of the Viognier, I was feeling pretty good about life—and the size of my thighs.
Zinny Fandel's tales of living the (mostly) BYOB life are intended to be attempted at home and in the community, preferably at BYOB restaurants. If you know of a BYOB spot she simply must tipple at, let her know.