Month: January 2014

Hub 51 is a Hub of Activity


Hub 51 peaked my interest during ChicagoNow’s restaurant week, January 24 to February 6. Creators R.J. and Jerrod Melman created a menu with “food we like to eat,” including classics like burgers and tacos, then added a creative twist with sushi, salads and steak.

Weekday and weekend alike, Hub 51 brims with activity. The restaurant has a large bar area, but reserving a table in the dining room is wise. When looking for a high-energy spot to grab a couple drinks and a bite, head just one block west of State Street in Chicago.

We enjoyed the Asian Chicken Chopped Salad, Dry-Rubbed Ribs and, surprisingly, the Loaded Baked Potato Debris. I overcame my potato animosity and tried the last dish, and to my surprise, Hub 51 pulled it off. A relatively cheap option for the location, Hub 51 is perfect for friends or coworkers to engage in a bustling environment.

Another option is to visit Sub 51, the nightclub downstairs.

Hub 51 is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, as you may have pieced together with the Melman family name. LEYE is a national restaurant group with a frequent dining program, so sign up to accumulate points!

Hub 51

51 W Hubbard

Chicago, IL 60654


Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

As strange as it seems to make dinner before eating breakfast, I love starting dinner in the slow cooker in the morning. The work is done after putting the ingredients together, and the kitchen smells great when you get home. Those are both good things.

For this recipe, grab chicken, salsa, lime juice, chili powder, sea salt, cilantro and a dash of season salt.


There it is. I used the mini tonight. Isn’t it cute?

The salsa really affects the flavor of the chicken, so choose a salsa you like. If you have a little extra time, try the Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant Style Salsa.

I sneak Season-All into most recipes because it makes almost anything better (disclaimer: that is an opinion), but if you hate it, leave it out.


If you like, serve with corn tortillas, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. I prefer the meat without the tortilla, but many of my friends (specifically the male college students) uphold carb overload diets, so I usually serve it with tortillas.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenderloins

1 cup salsa

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

season salt, to taste

2 tbsp cilantro, for garnish

Combine salsa, lime juice, chili powder, sea salt and season salt in slow cooker. Add chicken, stirring to coat with salsa mixture. Cook on low for 6 hours. Shred chicken and leave slow cooker on warm setting for 30 minutes. Transfer chicken, with salsa mixture, to serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Baked Brie

This is a go-to appetizer. It’s perfect to prepare before a nice dinner; an elegant, yet simple and hands-off snack.

You only need brie, walnuts and a savory jam. I like to use Stonewall Kitchen Hot Pepper Peach Jam, but use the flavor you prefer.


Baked Brie

1 8oz brie

1/4 cup jam

2 tbsp walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Unwrap brie and shave off rind on one flat side. Place brie rind side down in ovenproof baking dish. Spread jam evenly over brie and sprinkle walnuts. Bake for 13 minutes, until brie is soft and spreadable.

Blackened Brussels Sprouts

There’s one thing you should know. Brussels sprouts are my favorite food in the whole world. I really think I could eat them every day for the rest of my life.

That being said, this recipe is a fun twist on the classic sauté.


You’ll need worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, olive oil, cumin, garlic powder and brussels sprouts.


To start, cut off the brussels sprouts stems and slice the sprouts lengthwise. Place the groomed vegetables in a bag, add two tablespoons of olive oil and toss.


Next, put the brussels sprouts in a frying pan on medium high heat. Leave them here, stirring occasionally, until sufficiently blackened (7 minutes for me). The brussels sprouts will likely still be firm, so turn the heat down to low, and let them cook about ten more minutes, again stirring occasionally.

When the brussels sprouts are soft, right before removing for serving, add two teaspoons worcestershire, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and hot sauce to taste. Stir around and serve.

Blackened Brussels Sprouts

12 oz brussels sprouts

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp worcestershire sauce

hot sauce, to taste

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Trim brussels sprouts and cut in half, lengthwise. Toss brussels sprouts and olive oil in sealed bag. Cook brussels sprouts in frying pan on medium-high heat for 7 minutes until blackened, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, and let brussels sprouts cook for 10 minutes, until soft, again stirring occasionally.

When soft, add worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin and garlic powder.

Non-European Food Blog

It feels official; I’m back in the United States, at least for a while. Although the days of Europe frolicking tales have passed, I hope to keep Brown Eyes and a Smile active as I continue my journey in Chicago, even if it looks a little different. I hope to share some of my favorite recipes and restaurants with you, if you’re up for it. I might have fewer exotic photos to show, but I promise to continue eating well in my American life. I hope you’re up for the journey with me!