Gourmet lunch in the Loop? Pastoral it is

11 Sep

Photo credit: In Good Taste Blog

I work downtown and while in theory there are a lot of lunch places to grab a good bite, in actuality, it’s mostly made up of Au Bon Pains, Jimmy Johns, Panda Expresses and the likes. Which is good for me because it encourages me to bring lunch to work (my insanely busy days and constant lunches at my desk also help with this!). However, once in a while I’m reminded that among the soup-in-a-bread-bowl chains, Chicago has delicious gems sprinkled throughout the mundane Loop.

Yesterday my friend Carrie Becker and I decided to grab a quick bit. Carrie works for another company in my same building and it’s always fun catching up with her over lunch. She suggested we go to Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine after my initial recommendation fell flat (they didn’t serve sandwiches, oops). I had never been to Pastoral despite hearing about it forever, so I was game. I also didn’t realize just *how* close it is to my office. This could get dangerous.

When we arrived, the line was decent but not outrageous. We each took a look at the menu and shortly thereafter someone came to us in line to take down our order. Right off the bat I was impressed with how friendly everyone was especially considering at most high-brow wine and cheese shops, they usually aren’t. I also appreciated the fact that the guy taking our order had a Vermont hat. What can I say, I married good stock.

I ordered the Sinfully Healthy (roasted turkey on cracked wheat spread with tangy mango chutney, dijon mustard, field greens and fromage d’affinois) and a side order of the fromager’s salad (field greens, tomatoes, goat cheese, spiced almonds and balsamic vinaigrette). It was also very reasonable; only $11 even for both.

The sandwich was amazing. The mustard with the mango chutney paired amazingly with the fromage d’affinois (heaven) and the turkey was well flavored and light. The salad was a little over-done with the goat’s cheese, but better more than too little. I did have to restrain myself from browsing the cheese selection, though I will be back (soon!) and will give it a whirl then.

It’s exciting to find a really good spot that I can go to now when I want to take a little walk and break from the office. For the same price I’d spend on some mediocre sub and chips, I can get a delicious artisan sandwich and pairing.

Thanks, Carrie, for this great suggestion. What about lunch on Monday?

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