It’s no longer legal to sell foie gras in your Chicago restaurant. Flout the ban and you risk getting slapped with a $250 fine. But chic New American bistro Bin 36 breezed through a legal loophole when restaurant inspectors came knocking: According to their menu, the $15 wild-mushroom appetizer is just that. Oh, the foie gras on the plate? That’s compliments of the house.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, by describing the dish on the menu as “Wild Mushroom Confit Salad, Hudson Valley foie gras, on us,” the restaurant could claim that it was just handing out a freebie alongside a regular item.
Although the restaurant had previously received a warning, the supposed liver lagniappe was enough to get the swank River North joint off the hook. Said Health Department spokesman Tim Hadac, “The ordinance prohibits the sale of foie gras. It does not address giving it away.”
The ban isn’t filling city coffers; in fact, according to a recent wire story in the International Herald Tribune, the city “has yet to levy its first fine,” which is hardly a surprise, given Hadac’s acknowledgment that the ban is the department’s “lowest priority.”
At Hot Doug’s, a gourmet hot dog joint whose menu has included a foie-gras-and-duck sausage with black truffle butter and goat cheese, as well as a smoked-pheasant sausage topped with chunks of foie gras, owner Doug Sohn has framed his warning letter and put it on prominent display.
Other restaurants are simply switching back to plain English. Said Copperblue chef/owner Michael Tsonton to a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, “Right now I’ve got to play nice. I don’t serve foie gras, it’s duck liver.”