Molly’s Cupcakes – Chicago, IL (Lincoln Park)

A friend of mine recommended we stop at Molly’s Cupcakes in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. I was pleasantly surprised to find them open at 9:30pm on a Sunday night. They have an option for you to “create your own cupcake” while you wait (they actually do the ‘making’ for you), but we each chose one of their famous pre-made center-filled selections. I opted for a Cookee Monster — a vanilla cupcake filled with an artery (not just a vein!) of chocolate chip cookie dough and a light buttercream frosting with mini chocolate chips and a  mini chocolate chip cookie! Very messy and gooey, but sooo good!

The Counter, Chicago, IL

I usually avoid writing about chain restaurants, but after a recent trip to Chicago I’ve decided to break my rule a few times for restaurants we don’t have back home in Michigan.
The Counter is an casual customer burger chain with a wide selection of options for everything from the bun, to the meat (or meatless), to the toppings. We visited the location in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. It has a few more “gourmet” options than most create-your-own burger options in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, such as Bagger Dave’s or Great Plains Burger company. I loved having such a wide variety of options; part of the fun of a custom burger joint is trying something a bit different than what you’d get at Mickey D’s.
The weight of the burgers noted on the menu is AFTER cooking rather than before, which is a departure from most restaurants and makes for really big burgers. Even the 1/3lb, which I got was a bit much for me and it was the smallest choice. I went for a beef burger with a pretzel bun and topped with herbed goat cheese, tomato, sauteed mushrooms and Dijon balsamic dressing. I though it odd that the sauteed mushrooms were considered a “premium” topping (an extra buck) since most places throw that in as standard. I thought the herbs in the goat cheese spread were a bit overpowering, but a nice change from cheddar. The Dijon balsamic dressing was really good! It went better with the sweet potato fries I ordered than their mayonnaise concoction. The pretzel bun was tender and flavorful a strong improvement over most boring hamburger buns.

Service was decent and the food was good overall. I’d make another trip if I were back in the Lincoln Park area.