Tag Archives: summar ghias

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Hair

Stylist Sarah Potempa and Aussie bring Unfair Hair to Chicago

May 28, 2013

By Summar Ghias

This summer's hair trends: a sleek top-knot, fishtail braids, messy side buns, and the ever popular beach waves.

Let’s be real: the luscious locks you often see in hair commercials can seem a little unfair. To bridge reality and our greatest fantasy, Aussie took to the streets this weekend to give local Chicagoans the opportunity to shine. That meant handing out a whole range of unfair advantages courtesy of the handiwork of celeb stylist Sarah Potempa and Aussie styling products. Aussie set up shop at Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue, where a number of stylists (and if you were lucky, the woman that does Jake Gyllenhaal‘s hair on the regular) gave locals the latest in hair trends ranging from beach waves to top knots to fishtail or milkmaid braids.

With the wonderful stylist herself, Sarah Potempa

Also on hand: assistance from the Aussie Lifeguard Concierge, personal shopping assistance to help carry your bags and lunch reservations at hotspots along Michigan Avenue. While Sarah tended to my own ‘do, we spoke about the most popular summer hairstyle trends, quick ways to eliminate frizz, and her new line of hair tools.

The Aussie Kangaroo takes over Michigan Avenue

Braids of all kinds are definitely in this summer, but it was still the beach waves that were getting the most airtime, so Sarah didn’t seem surprised that I also wanted in. To immediately de-frizz my tresses before beginning the curling process, she took some hair spray and sprayed a paddle brush. Then, she brushed out my hair. A totally easy trick that evenly distributes the hair spray and tames those pesky fly-aways. Even more helpful: The magical Beachwaver which immediately seemed to answer all my hair curling woes. Invented by Sarah herself, the curling iron rotates in both directions to give you consistent curls and is motorized so you aren’t doing anything but pushing a button to take your hair from average to unfair. (FYI: The Beachwaver is now in Ulta stores, making it even more accessible across the nation).

Sarah's go-to products, the Aussie Sprunch Mousse and Leave In Conditioner and You Can Shine Hairspra

For the perfect beach waves

-Before drying hair, spray Aussie Hair Insurance Protecting Shine Spray to protect hair from heat styling.

-Select the side of the hair you want to curl first.

-Depending on the side you are starting with, take your curling iron (or in this case, the genius Sarah Potempa Beachwaver) and make sure the clamp is facing inward.

-Curl hair away from your face. (If you are using the Beachwaver, simply press the button to have the hair curl for you)

-Repeat on the other side.

-Run your fingers through your hair to separate the curls once they have cooled.

-After you are done, take a quarter-sized amount of Aussie Miraculously Smooth Anti-Frizz Cream to create definition and add shine.

To enhance your own natural wave, sans curling iron

–       When you get out of the shower, with damp hair, use a dollop of the Aussie Sprunch Mousse + Leave In Conditioner.

–       Scrunch your hair, distributing the product evenly throughout.

–       Blow-dry just a little.

–       Use the Aussie Smoothing Serum to get rid of frizz.

Why thank you Beachwaver. My curls after my 'unfair hair' styling session with Sarah!

For Chicagoans who missed out, Aussie isn’t finished with the Windy City just yet! In fact, the brand has events lined up all summer that dole out unfair advantages of all kinds, including a Wrigley Field tailgate, where fans will get ticket upgrades and “Cubs Cash”, a Lincoln Park Zoo outing with “roo” treats, and a North Avenue beach day with access to a private cabana and Aussie beach gear. Unfair? We aren’t complaining.

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American - Breakfast/Brunch - FOOD - "The Delicious"

Longman & Eagle in Logan Square, Chicago

October 10, 2012

By Summar Ghias

I had long been intrigued by the farm-to-table Logan Square tavern Longman & Eagle for its triple threat status as buzzed-about restaurant, bar and inn. After several failed attempts at eating a meal there (on account of their ‘no reservation’ policy and my frequently impatient stomach), I was finally able to give the place a try for brunch. It was my first time eating the down-South specialty known as “Chicken and Waffles” and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Chicken and Waffles: Fried Chicken, Waffles, Sweet Potato Hash (sans the normal Pork Belly), and Maple Syrup

Longman and Eagle’s version of soul food is incredibly flavorful: the herb crusted fried chicken and fluffy waffles come with a yummy sweet potato hash (we got the no pork version). Combined with maple syrup, it’s a conveniently sweet but savory dish for the indecisive brunch-goer. We ate it all together – chicken, waffle and syrup in each bite – which I was later told says a lot about you. What, exactly? I go big or go home. Obviously.

A less exciting Cinnamon Spiced Brioche French Toast with Citrus Butter and Praline Pecans.

We also got the cinnamon spiced brioche French toast, which sadly was a bit on the lackluster side in comparison. Though I haven’t yet had anything on their dinner menu, I was able to indulge in several of the dessert selections on a separate occasion. My group of friends and I devoured our plate before I could even take a picture (sorry guys, this Flickr photo below will have to do), a testament to just how amazing the warm gruyere donuts with fig jam, hazelnut mascarpone and wild flower honey were.

Warm Gruyere Donuts Photo source: Flickr

Our other desserts of choice– the dark chocolate crispy fernet pave with malt gelato and caramel pudding and the chocolate and currant trifle with lemon and Bangladeshi bay leaf shortbread – were chock full of interesting flavors, but a smidge less successful than the donuts.

The vibe at L&E is totally charming, too – the dark woods and rustic shabby chic furniture make for the perfect ambiance to warm your stomachs. And, if you actually do get seated for a meal and are thereby suffering from food coma afterwards, L&E conveniently serves as a boutique inn as well. Eat. Drink. Sleep? I’m in.


Meal: Brunch and dessert
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: ***
Service: **
Would I go back?: Yes — most definitely!

Restaurant Info:
Longman & Eagle

2657 North Kedzie Avenue,
nr. W. Schubert Ave.,
Chicago, Illinois 60647
(773) 276-7110

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FOOD - "The Delicious" - Mexican - Spanish/Latin American

Antique Taco in Wicker Park

September 18, 2012

By Summar Ghias

Chicago’s trendy taco scene may always be distinguished (and ruled) by late night favorite Big Star. But that doesn’t mean Chef Paul Kahan doesn’t have his fair share of competitors. Fellow Wicker Park joint Antique Taco serves up similarly scrumptious tacos packed with punches of unexpected flavors. Given that I’ve dined there three times this month and somehow still can’t stop daydreaming about the dessert-like horchata milkshake, I’d say Antique Taco gives Big Star a run for its money. Almost.

Inside Antique Taco

The restaurant couples market Mexican fare with an antique vibe, complete with communal seating, wooden benches, and vintage china. And though it gets a little too loud on the weekends, it’s the perfect spot for an inexpensive weekday jaunt.

Having tried a substantial part of the menu, the grilled ribeye steak tacos are by far the superior of the bunch. The crispy fish tacos, with smoked cabbage, scallions, and the surprise sriracha tartar sauce, come in at a close second. And, while I won’t go as far as to say that the fish tacos are better than their counterparts at Big Star, I do think that the creative fusion touch gives it a distinction all its own.

Crispy fish tacos with tempura, smoked Cabbage, scallions, and sriracha tartar sauce

Tacos aren’t the only thing on the menu worth mentioning: the masa biscuit and lobster gravy entrée is just the right amount of comfort food.

The corn OFF the cob salad with parmesan, black beans, red peppers, avocado, and corn chips

The Corn OFF the Cob salad, with parmesan, black beans, red peppers, avocado and corn chips is ah-mazing. And, if kale is your current favorite superfood, the Antique Taco signature salad incorporates it into a mix of spicy peanuts, queso fresco, cranberries, sesame, cilantro, and pomegranate vinaigrette. Frankly, the chicken tacos are the only unmemorable thing on the menu.

The signature salad, with kale, spicy peanuts, queso fresco, cranberries, sesame, cilantro, corn chips and a pomegranate vinaigrette

The best item on the menu: Grilled ribeye tacos with a house steak rub, heirloom salsa, cilantro, onion and queso enchilado.

The drink of dreams: a horchata milkshake made with cinnamon, banana, almonds, and vanilla

I predict many more trips in my future – not to mention plenty more wasted hours spent daydreaming about that cinnamon topped horchata milkshake.


Meal: Lunch/Dinner
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: ***
Service: **
Would I go back?: Most definitely

Restaurant Info:
Antique Taco

1360 North Milwaukee Ave.,
at Wood St.,
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 687-8697

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American - Breakfast/Brunch - FOOD - "The Delicious"

Waffles in the South Loop, Chicago

August 6, 2012

By Summar Ghias

The concept is simple. In a world where brunch still reigns supreme, why not open a place that focuses solely on waffles?

That place is literally called Waffles. We’ll knock off a few points for originality, but perhaps the intention was to be perfectly clear. The South Loop joint, which was voted best new breakfast by Time Out Chicago this year, pays homage to the doughy goodness by serving everything from zen green tea waffles to the more hearty and Southern inspired chicken-and-waffle combo with a spicy maple syrup.

My Mexican chocolate waffles with orange anglaise and shaved dark chocolate. I don't usually mix citrus and chocolate, but this proved I should go out of my standard food box more often.

At it’s simplest, the waffle-spot serves two types of waffles: the rich, chewy Liege waffle or the thick and crispy Brussels waffle with various kinds of fruit compotes. The more complicated waffle dishes incorporate my all-time-brunch favorite, eggs benedict, like the Filet and Waffle benedict with Liege waffles, poached eggs and aleppo hollandaise.

But, my mind was on the aforementioned Time Out Chicago review that spelled out a drool-inducing dessert-like dish: the Mexican chocolate waffles with orange anglaise topped with spicy cocoa powder and shaved dark chocolate. It was pretty darn good.

My friend, who is equally obsessed with all things red-velvet, got the red velvet waffles with strawberry compote, whipped cream cheese and topped with candied walnuts.

Red velvet waffles with strawberry compote, whipped cream cheese and candied walnuts.

We didn’t get a savory waffle, but we did get eggs on the side to even out the sugar. And while I do think perhaps I should have seen just how good the savory waffles were, I was pretty satisfied with the place overall. If you’re in the need to satisfy a waffle craving, this is definitely the place to go.


Meal: Breakfast/Brunch
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: **
Food: ** and a half
Service: **
Would I go back?: Yes — if only to try the savory waffles.

Restaurant Info:

1400 South Michigan Ave.,
at 14th St.,
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 854-8572

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American - FOOD - "The Delicious"

Grahamwich in River North, Chicago

December 16, 2011

By Summar Ghias

A meal at Grahamwich

When the gourmet sandwich shop Grahamwich opened last year, buzz abound. Celeb chef Graham Elliot’s judge spot on the Fox show Masterchef and recent stint as Lollapalooza culinary curator had Chicago foodies chomping at the bit. Reviews on his new establishment, however, were conflicting; Time Out Chicago (my usual go-to magazine) was less than impressed. Having heard from my gourmand older brother that it was worth a try, I figured it time to go see for myself.

Housed in Chicago landmark, Tree Studios, a former artist colony established in 1894, Elliot has set out to ‘redefine what a sandwich shop should and could be’. While I’m not quite sure it does all that, it’s definitely a good alternative to Potbelly and Quiznos if you’re ever in the mood for fancy.

Grahamwich tuna sandwich

I got the Pacific tuna sandwich ($10) with roasted pineapple, wasabi peas, yuzu aioli and sweet soy on a Hawaiian bun. My friend got the wagyu beef sandwich ($10) with baby arugula, grainy mustard, Yukon potato, and onion rings on a pretzel roll. They were both surprisingly good, and I didn’t feel as if my sandwich was overdressed like some of the reviews had mentioned.

Most enticing on the menu, however, are the snacks, which include truffle popcorn with grated parmesan, chopped chives, sea salt and cracked pepper and cinnamon stick frozen yogurt with roasted apple, salted caramel, and pie crust. Yum. We devoured them.


The space is a little scene-y, but I happened to like the benches and common area feel. So, the next time I’m feeling like I’ve had a little too much of my standard vegetarian on wheat at Potbelly (which I generally devour with equal enthusiasm), I’ll be sure to head back here to mix it up a little.

Restaurant Info:

615 N. State St.
between Ohio St. and Ontario St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 265-0434
River North


Meal: Lunch/Sandwich/Snack
Occasion: Lunchtime alternative to Potbelly
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ** (Scene-y, but given the area, how could it not be)
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes (and I have).

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American - Bakery - Coffeehouse/Cafe - FOOD - "The Delicious"

Punk Rock brekkie: Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe in Chicago

October 4, 2011

By Summar Ghias

Brunch may just be my favorite pastime. But brunch well past standard brunch timings at a 24-hour café essentially morphs me into a kid in a candy store. You can only imagine my excitement at hearing about the new Bleeding Heart Bakery & Café, a welcome bright spot in Chicago’s otherwise dismal late-night dining scene. The restaurant has an edgy diner vibe with vivid tattoo inspired art on the walls and what the owners dub a “local sustainable punk rock brunch” all day, every day.

After road-tripping to Indiana for a concert (yeah, Lupe!), some friends and I were in need of grub. Not just any kind of grub though. Once we’d confirmed that the food was delicious (because really, the host would have told us if it wasn’t), we set out to order from the brunch menu and eye the well-endowed glass counter from afar in all its munchkin and mini-cake mound glory. After oscillating between sweet and savory, I settled on a wild mushroom polenta eggs benedict with roasted red peppers and what seemed like an exotic twist on the standard condiment: persimmon hollandaise. My friends got the farmer’s veggie skillet, the seasonal fruit pancakes and, wait for it, the fried vanilla bean yeast doughnut breakfast sandwich with eggs and cheese.

My disappointing but tasty looking Wild Mushroom Polenta Benedict.

Sadly, my entrée didn’t live up to its description. The persimmon hollandaise was completely lacking in the persimmon department and the mushroom polenta was equally vapid. The seasoned roasted potatoes on the side were its only saving grace.

The Veggie Farmer's Skillet with zucchini and green beans

My friends, on the other hand, gave their dishes thumbs up. There were plenty of veggies in the farmer’s skillet and the fruit pancakes were equally tasty. And of course, how could a deep fried tempura battered doughnut breakfast sandwich be anything other than mortifyingly delicious?

The pièce de résistance: Fried doughnut sandwich. Getting fruit as a side makes up for the rest, right?

Though my dish was sub-par, I have a feeling I’ll be giving this place another shot. After all, any 24-hour place with a Veruca Salt Waffle on the menu (or simply one that references Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at all) deserves a second chance.

Restaurant Info:
Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe

1916 W. Chicago Ave
nr. N. Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 904-1414
West Town


Meal: Late-night grub
Occasion: Post-Concert Reflection
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** (punk rock)
Food: **
Service: **
Would I go back?:24 hour brunch on the weekends = obvi.

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