It's been a little over a month since the last review of La Tache. Since that review was mostly "eh" (see link below), I will post mine since it is somewhat better.
I went to La Tache on Saturday night with Mrs. Ro and her father. I called ahead to see if we would need a reservation for 6 and they informed me that they do not generally have a wait until 7. Since we were uncertain about our pre-dinner plans, I opted not to request a reservation.
We arrived at 6:30 and were seated immediately. Our table was angled against a beautiful antique wardrobe that cramped my position somewhat (my left arm was against the wardrobe). I don't generally mind when tables are in close quarters (living in NYC cured me of that), but this arrangement left a little to be desired.
The waiter was attentive, polite, and friendly. My father-in-law and I ordered a Manhattan on the rocks to start with, and my wife ordered a bottle of wine for the table to share. The Manhattans were good, but at $8, definitely on the high side for Chicago.
To start, we each had a different salad. Mrs. Ro had the mixed greens, and she commented favorably on the dressing. Her father had the asparagus and bibb salad. He was perplexed with the asparagus preparation - the spears were sliced thinly on the diagonal so they could be flash cooked - but he enjoyed it otherwise. I had the other salad with a poached egg on top. I don't remember what it was called, but it was lovely. The egg was poached to perfection, so the yolk blended perfectly into the salad dressing.
Mrs. Ro had the Chicken Pistou. The waiter let us know that "pistou" was french for pesto. She thought it was good, but didn't find it to be outstanding. She found the mashed potatoes alongside to be excellently prepared - not too rich, not too smooth, and full of flavor.
Mrs. Ro's dad had the flatiron steak frites. The waiter informed us that the flatiron is similar to the traditional NY strip steak, but it comes from the shoulder of the cow. At $17, it was four dollars cheaper than the traditional strip steak. He found the steak to be remarkably tender, the frites to be amazing ("how do they cook these so well?"), but he was not impressed with the bordelais (sp?) sauce. He didn't specify what he didn't like about it, but he definitely didn't like it. (but Mrs. Ro liked it a lot)
I had the marengo. I have never had marengo before, so i was unsure what to expect. I ordered it on the strength of the lovely poached egg that topped my salad (I'm a sucker for the perfect poach). I thought it was very good. The tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken, and crayfish made for a lovely flavor combination, slightly bound together by the yolk of a perfectly poached egg.
Chocolate mousse with hazelnuts.
DIVINE DIVINE DIVINE. Mrs. Ro's dad had claimed not to want dessert, but after he had his first bite, he liked it so much that I was afraid he was going to start scooping it up with his hands. Fortunately, he broke off chunks of the edible fried thingie that it was presented in (a very nice presentation, much nicer than my description makes it sound) and used those to scoop it up. We did everything but lick the plate.
For the three of us, the bill not including tip was around $130. With tip, it comes out to nearly $50 per person. The food was excellent, though not overwhelming. The service was excellent, nearly perfect in fact. And the ambience was satisfying, even though I was a little cramped. For a very nice neighborhood restaurant, I think La Tache sets a fine table. It reminds me of a lot of restaurants in New York. I will not go there regularly because I do not regularly spend fifty dollars a person for dinner, but I would not hesitate to recommend it.
1475 W. Balmoral
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