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Chicago Area

Bistro Blu--Riverside

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Restaurants & Bars

Bistro Blu--Riverside

Mike McElliott | Jun 1, 2004 03:28 PM

Tea room during the week, it morphs into fine dining (sort of) on Saturday nights. Four courses $39 (coffee, cheese course extra) and BYOB ($4 corkage). Chef Aaron Dabrowski, who cooks at Naha the rest of the week, recently started these Saturday night events in his parents’ tea room in Riverside. First encounter did not leave me amazed, but was enjoyable enough to warrant a return. (This coming Saturday night, a collaboration between Dabrowski & Chris Pandel of Tru, is sold out.)

The décor of this place is a trip—I cannot do it justice, so will not try, but it’s a very fun, entertaining room in itself. Service is excessively eager (I was asked how I liked each course at least three times each my multiple staff), but that’s an excess I can very much live with. Extremely friendly staff and Aaron’s father Paul is a joy to talk to.

The food: Choice of four breads—our selection was an olive-oil based ciabatta, which was excellent. Amuse bouche was wonderful toast topped w/ St. Andre cheese, frisee, some other green I’ve forgotten, and a strawberry vinaigrette. First course: prosciutto-wrapped sea scallops. Scallops perfectly done, melon relish interesting, although the accompanying pistachio oil was not very pistacho-ish. Soup was cold carrot, poured out of a teapot into a bowl with a center island of house giardiniere and a dollop of crème fraiche. The giardiniere was really just micro-minced vegetables in oil—nothing very interesting. The soup itself was intense, cardamom and cayenne pepper in the background. Presentation was beautiful, but I wasn’t gaga about the soup—at little too sweet for me, but then that’s carrots. Could have benefitted from a little acid—maybe lemon? Main course was “lacquered duck” w/ garlic-whipped potatoes, corn and peas, peach slices and a peach juice-infused duck stock. I abstained from the potatoes because of low garlic tolerance, but my wife said they were very good. Peas were a little chewy, corn was excellent (obviously fresh), stock was terrific. Not sure what the “lacquer” may have consisted of, but it was scarcely noticeable. Duck itself was decent. Desserts: my wife had a spoon of crème brulee accompanied by two little mounds of a very intense dense chocolate cake that somehow involved raspberries—very good. I had an apple tart—thin sliced, lightly caramelized apples on a wonderfully buttery short pastry. Cheese plate also available. Presentation very pretty—oblong rectangular plate w/ apple tart at one end, tiny carafe of crème anglaise at the other. As you can see, my reaction to the food was a notch above pretty good, but nothing to go crazy over. That said, the whole ensemble of the décor, the incredibly friendly service, very decent food, plus the fact that this is a new venture---all convince me it’s worth a return visit.

See attached url for coming attractions.

(By the way, the sandwiches on the lunch menu look very interesting.)

Link: http://www.blueparrottearoom.com

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