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5 days in Chicago - reporting back


Restaurants & Bars 10

5 days in Chicago - reporting back

Cookiefiend | Aug 12, 2008 11:27 AM

Hi Chicago Hounds! Thanks to your help we had some marvelous meals while in your city. Here’s my report:

* Tuesday- a late lunch at PJ Clarke’s – Mr CF had the open face turkey sandwich, I had the club sandwich. This was very close to the hotel and we were really hungry. Everything was tasty.A light and late dinner in the hotel at Chibar – drinks, flat bread with tomato and mozzarella , fried gruyere cheese sticks and something else I’ve forgotten.

* Wednesday - Hot dog in Millennium Park after going through The Art Institute – it was a hot dog… nice bun though. I stayed away from the catsup. ;-)

* Thursday - Fox & Obel lunch – roast beef sandwich with blue brie lettuce and tomato – yum, loved the bread and the brie. Finished with a ginger cookie. I love this place! I need this at home! And to top it off, they’ve got a nice wine selection. We made pests of ourselves here later in the week.

Dinner at Tru. We had a drink in the bar area – which wasn’t really a bar – while we were waiting for another member of our party. Tru was very kind in getting jackets for the 2 men who forgot theirs… in spite of my telling them!
We did the Chef’s menu, which was:

Preserved baby artichoke with navel orange and white sardine

Strawberry-tomato gelee with fava bean puree and a shaving of Parmesan. Very light and fresh tasting. I really liked the tomato flavor.

Sashimi - tuna, hamachi, escolar (the escolar was fishy) with a slice of kumquat and radish. A separate dish with white soy and traditional soy was served in front of the Sashimi

About here in our dinner we had a rock star sighting – surprised me! I’m not sure I’ve ever been anywhere and had someone famous be there too.

Frog leg (boneless and panko crusted, then fried) sitting on a bed of carrots, with watercress soup. The soup was poured into the bowl – where there were small dots of emulsified garlic with a dot of watercress on top… this looked like little frog eyes once the watercress soup was added, which made us giggle a bit. Well, me anyway.

Artichoke consommé poured over little dots of 4 different gelees - a mustard cinnamon, turnip caramel, cucumber and grilled peanut . The mustard cinnamon one was very interesting.

Antiqua Tagliatelle with chanterelle mushroom cream, spinach and a slice of truffle and pecorino. A bit dry, I would have preferred a bit more of the mushroom cream.

Pan seared Fois Gras with a morel mushroom and a weird cake/bread thing – I guess it was made from pecans, I didn’t care for it - and leaves made of zucchini which was totally unnecessary. The Fois was lovely – the accompaniments were wrong, IMHO.

Wild asparagus poached Sturgeon on a bed of asparagus spaetzle with a mushroom and onion infusion. The asparagus ‘spaetzle’ had a large sized caviar/roe in it – it gave the asparagus a disconcerting feel and the burst of salt from the roe was odd. The fish was lovely.

Roasted Colorado lamb loin with farro verde, nectarine and Picholine olive. The lamb was fabulous but again, I didn’t care for the other elements – they just didn’t seem to go with the dish.

A marvelous cheese course – I had thePetit Basque, a Blue and a soft blue brie – I didn’t get the names of the others… but they were great!

A dessert amuse of rhubarb consommé with lemon and ginger tapioca

Gianduja Cremeux with chopped toasted hazelnuts, a sprinkle of basil and Concord grape sorbet -chocolate mousse/pudding on swath of homemade Nutella, a bit of hazelnut brittle, slices of grapes & grape sorbet. This was like very fancy peanut butter & jelly – delicious and we were amused

Mignonettes – a huge choice (minus a rack of lollipops) that accidently were knocked over at another table, prompting one of our party to say to another, “I dare you to say ‘5 second rule” and causing the rest of us to laugh) was available - some of our choices were: apricot jellies, pistachio meringue, raspberry cake, and caramel

This was a very nice place and service was impeccable. The wine sommelier was very knowledgeable and helped us narrow our choices down. Overall we enjoyed our dinner, there were some strange things about it – a lot of round rubbery bits: the caviar in the asparagus, the lumps of jellied flavors in the consommé, the tapioca in the rhubarb consommé, the unnecessary starches that were heavily textured with the Fois Gras and the lamb – but we’d try it again. We almost went back on Saturday for the cheeses.

* Friday – we went to Coco Pazzo for lunch. They were very accommodating and made bruschetta for Mr CF that wasn’t on the menu with tomatoes, garlic and basil. He also had the Rigatoni alla Buttera – sausage, peas, tomato, parmesan and cream. He said it was okay, he’s very hard to please when it comes to pasta. I had the Insalada di tonno – mixed greens, green beans, boiled eggs, olive oil dressing – and it was very good. I also had a glass of the Rose. Our associate had the Smoked salmon Panini and loved it. He said the salmon was still cool even though the bread was warm and toasty. We skipped dessert and walked back to Fox & Obel for banana pudding - eaten outside by the water and thoroughly enjoyed.

* Saturday – we tried the Gage for lunch and we ate way too much. I had my first Poutine - elk ragout cheese curds and fries. Wow. Now I understand poutine and we all decided it would be great hangover food. We also tried the goat cheese grits – loved ‘em , the fried zucchini & olives – too much breading on zucchini and it was too thin - but the olives were great, and the fried chicken livers with coarse mustard. We should have stopped there but we couldn’t. I had the chili roasted chicken salad – mixed greens, cucumbers, radish, goat cheese and a roasted curry dressing. The salad was great, loved everything except I felt there was too much chili seasoning on the chicken. Mr CF and our associate tried the locally crafted sausages – 3 different sausages with coarse mustard, served with potatoes roasted with Brie in a little cast iron casserole. They ate all but one (though they did eat much of the 3rd) and the potatoes with the brie was really a hit too.

Dinner that night was at One Sixty Blue. Lovely place and really great food. Our waiter threw us for a loop though - he asked if we had ever been to OSB, which we had not. He immediately went into the hot cheese appetizers… and then told us the chef was French. I was confused, we didn’t have menus at that point – so I wasn’t sure if that was our only choice for an appetizer or what and wasn’t sure why he needed to tell us where the chef was from. But anyway! We ordered wine (and were brought the wrong one) and our waiter recommended a Reislng to go with our cheese appetizers. We did go with 2 of them: the Nancy Hudson Valley Camembert with Michigan apples & candied walnuts – this one was our favorite and was very good with the wine and the Cabriole Farms with herbs and sundried tomatoes

Mr CF and I had the endive salad topped with pear slices. This came with a cracker dome, the salad was underneath.

Cold cream of corn soup with bacon, corn, tomatoes, and a tortilla chip

I had the lamb with Ratatouille – a lovely round of lamb loin cooked sous vide to medium rare with the incredible vegetables. Loved it.

Mr CF had the veal tenderloin. This was also amazing. I don’t know what all was in that dish. I know there were gooseberries… but wow… tart, cinnamon, floral all together.

Our associate had the pork chop Kurobuta and it was also a huge success. There were apples and grapes, a delicious ‘barbeque’sauce and I don’t know what all else.

The chef did come by and we told him how marvelous dinner was. It truly was.

Dessert s - Peaches in cream - market green peaches topped with a strip of macaroon then a layer of cream brulee, and a macaroon - same as macaroon layer – filled with a ginger blueberry filling. I had a late harvest Reisling with this, a fabulous match with the peaches.

I have to say we had a bit of a letdown at this point. Online there is a wonderful list of cheese that is no longer available. We primarily chose to come here because of the cheeses. So to find that the list is trimmed drastically was disappointing to say the least. And while looking at the dessert wine list we saw that we missed the Rabbit Boudin… we weren’t told it was one of the specials! That and the cheese list made me fume a bit.

But the guys had a few cheeses – a Pleasant Ridge from Wisconsin, a Petit Basque, an aged Gouda and a Valencay- soft bluish (which was my favorite). They also had a glass of port which was deemed even better than the glass at Tru.

Overall a delicious dinner! We were very pleased in spite of the minor goofs.

* Sunday breakfast - We had intended to go to The Daily Grind, we’ve been to the one in Palm Desert and remembered they had one in Chicago. But even though this place came up on Google – I don’t think it was the same and they were closed. There was a very likely looking place across the street, Fiddlehead Café, so that’s where we went. I hadn’t heard of Fiddlehead Café, but what we had for breakfast was excellent and the menu for dinner looks pretty darn good too. Mr CF had biscuits and gravy, and the mushroom crepes – he liked the biscuits (but not the gravy) and thought the mushroom crepe was very good. I had the Truffled Eggs - fabulous – soft scrambled eggs with truffled goat cheese on puff pastry. Our associate had Salmon Benedict - smoked salmon with excellent poached eggs and hollandaise. I think he had smoked salmon almost everywhere we went , I wasn’t sure there was anyone who liked salmon as much as I do – but I stand corrected! I really liked this place.

Also, I totally send kudos to the manager. He had an unexpected service issue, there was nothing anyone could have done to avoid it, but he more than took care of the problem. He went above and beyond, in my opinion, to make sure that everything was as it should be.

So we’re back home again – in Indiana – fat and happy with our time in Chicago. I send thanks to the Chicago Chowhounds’ – I couldn’t have done it without you!


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