Sweet Mandy B's

by Steven Behling


The time has come to close the Chicago chapter of NOSHology, at least for now.  And what better way to say goodbye than with a slice of something smothered in buttercream frosting...the kind that doesn't leave a Crisco-like film inside your mouth and cause your teeth to ache.  The kind of buttercream that fills the swimming pools of your dreams, into which you dive and burst forth in a shower of rainbow sprinkles.  The kind of buttercream frosting I've only ever had at Sweet Mandy B's.  

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I can honestly say that Sweet Mandy B's is responsible for at least 15 of the 30 pounds I gained during graduate school.  Situated just down the street from DePaul University's Lincoln Park campus, this one-of-a-kind bakery features ample seating and a little step upon which your ill-mannered children can climb and plant their faces and palms directly on the glass display, showcasing row after row of sweet treats.  Over the course of the five years I lived in Chicago, I can't count how many times I walked down Webster Avenue for a cupcake or two...or six.  I celebrated more than one birthday and drowned countless sorrows at Sweet Mandy B's, and would likely be celebrating/drowning many more if I still lived in the Windy City. 

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When it came time to plan my week-long celebration of graduating with a PhD in clinical child psychology during the summer of 2010, I called Sweet Mandy B's to order a simple-yet-glorious chocolate cake with...you guessed it...buttercream icing.  

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When the time came to commemorate my friend Rachel's completion of all the many cumbersome requirements for licensure in psychology, who do you think I called? Sweet Mandy B's.  

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When the time comes for me to order a wedding cake, who'm I gonna call? SWEET MANDY B's.  I'm also going to try to order a whoopie pie, even though they don't make them anymore.  

Sweet Mandy B's is located at 1208 W Webster Ave in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.  It's also located in my dreams, but those are harder for you to access. 


Green Tea Japanese Restaurant

by Steven Behling


During my first year of college, I worked in a bookstore with this girl named Courtney.  Oh, Courtney.  How did I feel about Courtney?  Perhaps the Jets said it best:

During a particularly slow day in the store, Courtney and I got to talking and she appeared incredulous when I told her that I'd never had sushi.  "Wait, never?!  You've never even had a California roll?" she asked.  "No," I responded, "but would you like to be there for my first time?"  IT WAS A DATE, one proposed with only a moderate amount of innuendo.  

Courtney was there the first time I ate sushi, and I'm glad, because to the outside observer, deciding to take raw fish and rice, wrap it up in dried seaweed, and actively choose to put it in your mouth seems wrong.  Sadly, Courtney and I never ended up together, but that's okay, because the real star of that evening, sushi, is now my main squeeze.  Sushi and I hang out all the time, and when I'm feeling lonely or upset, sushi is always there to help me feel better.  Thanks, sushi.  

A few months after I moved to Chicago, Sara, one of the students in my cohort, introduced me to what would become my favorite sushi spot in town: Green Tea.  A tiny, inconspicuous spot along Clark Street just north of Webster, Green Tea was within walking distance from DePaul's Lincoln Park campus...plus they delivered (to many a team meeting during my time there).  Green Tea was where I and a few of my friends went to celebrate my 28th birthday (after the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry and before going to Sweet Mandy B's for cupcakes), and even though we had to wait for nearly two hours due to the minuscule amount of seating (four tables and the sushi bar), it definitely made for a very happy birthday.  Green Tea was where I took my friend Brett and his wife Janeen when they came to visit, and they loved it.  Green Tea was the last place I ate before departing Chicago, and is a must whenever I visit.   One of the best parts about dining there is that when you grab your coat and head out the door a satisfied customer, the staff stop whatever they are doing and shout, "See you tomorrow!"

When you've got some time, and a hankering for deliciously fresh sushi, head on over to Green Tea.  My favorites are the Chicago Spicy Crazy roll, the spicy scallop roll, and the "special" Dai Shiro Maguro roll.  The Chicago Spicy Crazy roll is composed of tuna, salmon, whitefish, white tuna, spicy sauce, avocado, and cucumber shaped into a giant triangle and rolled in red tobiko.  It's a big maki, so you probably only need to order this if you're by yourself.  But c'mon...it's SUSHI.  Get more.

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The Dai Shiro Maguro roll isn't on the main menu.  If you're lucky, your table has a soy sauce-stained little placard announcing the tastiest roll ever: seared superwhite tuna on top of a shrimp tempura avocado cucumber roll, garnished with a colorful assortment of tobiko and a touch of homemade special soy sauce.  Simple, understated perfection.

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Green Tea is located at 2206 N Clark St in Chicago, Illinois.