IfOnly Experiences for Good in Chicago
** This post was originally slotted to post in early January, but due to some big life changes (we welcomed a baby girl in January, earlier than expected), this post has been severely delayed! Thanks to IfOnly for gifting us this experience and for their patience. Our baby girl is now thriving, lots of mommy posts to come!
Recently IfOnly reached out to me about trying one of their unique experiences that benefit worthy causes around the world. If you’ve read my recent post, you’ll know that I feel passionate about partnering with companies and attending events that have charitable ties. Especially in the food world, where there can be too much waste, allotting funds towards worthy causes that can really use it makes an enormous impact.
IfOnly is located in 24 different cities worldwide from New Orleans to Paris and of course Chicago. Chicago offers 165 different experiences that each benefit a different charitable cause. You’re able to find an experience by price, group size, time range and category - options include fashion and style, dining, sports, health and wellness and much more.
Choosing a foodie option, we decided to go with a four-course, family-style chef’s tasting dinner at Wood, a great local restaurant in our neighborhood of Lakeview. The meal benefited one of my favorite food-related organizations, Meals on Wheels of America. Executive Chef Marcus Rasmussen tailored a meal to several of our dietary needs all with a seasonal slant that ended up being way more than just four-courses.
Our experience began with one of the most varied charcuterie and cheese boards we’d ever experienced that included house-cured pastrami, prosciutto, super smooth and creamy chicken liver mousse, a variety of pickled vegetables, chopped smoked salmon spread, brie, blue and parmesan cheeses along with fruit spreads and honey. Our favorite bites were probably the chicken liver mousse and I surprisingly loved the mild blue cheese. The chef later informed us that all the meats had been cured and smoked in-house.
Our next course was a creamy burrata dish with marcona almonds, balsamic braised, charred radicchio and kombucha squash paired with a beet salad with bulgur wheat, parsley, homemade yogurt, feta and mint. Burrata is always a fan favorite and this one didn’t disappoint.
I loved how it was more of a savory dish compared to the typical pairing of fruit accouterments. We all marveled at how well the beets were cooked and that the pairing with the yogurt and mint allowed their earthiness to come through without being too “dirty” tasting.
Next came one of the tables favorites of the evening, a perfectly seared scallop with truffled savoy cabbage and a delightful cauliflower puree. At so many restaurants scallops can often fall flat but the crusty outer layer paired with the creamy cauliflower puree made this dish stand out. The scallops were accompanied with a mussel filled tagliatelle with a luscious tomato ragu. While both the pasta and mussels were delicious, the scallops stole the show for this course.
Our last and final course had four different hearty meat, fish and chicken preparations. The roasted Atlantic salmon with winter squash bisque, Brussels sprouts, delicata squash and chanterelle mushrooms blew my normal salmon preparation out of the water. The other fish dish reminded us all of Thanksgiving on a plate, whole roasted trout with apple & pecan stuffing, spaghetti squash and a smoked green onion vinaigrette. This was everyone’s favorite fish dish as the trout had a delicate smokiness that paired perfectly with the apple and pecan stuffing.
Our meat course was a pork schnitzel with roasted fingerling potatoes, dill, lemon, mustard vinaigrette and creme fraiche. Jeremy has a soft spot for schnitzel and this one had a perfectly crispy exterior and was still juicy in the middle. The last dish served was a roasted chicken breast with braised lentils, apple & celery salad, roasted turnips and a chicken jus. We ended up taking most of the roasted chicken home with us since we were so full from the previous dishes!
Overall, we had an amazing first IfOnly experience at Wood that I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun and different night out. With a huge variety of adventures, there is sure to be an IfOnly experience for everyone in your group of friends or family to enjoy.