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My promised report -wow!

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My promised report -wow!

Betsy | Jun 4, 2006 09:28 PM

Just got back from Chicago today and I had a GREAT time; it will be the first of several trips to the Windy City - I just loved it so much. Now, onto the good stuff.

I really enjoyed my meals at Scylla (dinner) and Topo (lunch).

Spring was terrific (I had mentioned to the waiter during the specials recitiation that I don't eat sushi or mushrooms, and when the amuse bouche[made with raw tuna] was brought out, my waiter whisked it away because he remembered that I don't eat raw fish. He brought out a cup of the carrot soup instead, as the other amuse bouche was made with mushrooms. The soup was yummy. My only problem was that my fish entree was brought out while I was still eating my soup. Actually, I'd finished, but I still held the spoon in my hand to make it look like I was not done - this is a trick I use when dining alone, so that I will not be rushed. I asked that the entree be sent back to the kitchen until I was ready). The Lemongrass/coconut soup was delicious, with a huge spicy kick to it; I gulped down several glasses of water. Next came halibut with feather light gnocchi and spring onions, then a tasting of ice creams: almond/ginger, banana malt, chocolate/lemongrass, rhubarb......really good. I love ice cream and homemade? Nothing better.

Spring was great, but Tru was extraordinary. The room was soothing (which I loved after a long day of sightseeing) and the service was just wonderful, truly helpful. The food? To die for. As an appetizer, I started with delicate lamb ravioli; the sauce was pure lamb,very intensely flavored. The black bass with artichokes was perfect – tasty and light, yummy.
For dessert, I had to choose between the pineapple cannelloni and the orange tian; I adore pineapple desserts, so I eventually chose that one, but much to my surprise, the waitress brought me out the orange dessert as well – that was certainly beyond any expectations I had. Wow – and both were delicious. Then when the trolley of lollipops and truffles was brought out……..lol ,it was so amazing, I had to take a picture of it. Yum! Then, more goodies afterwards. It was some of the best food I’d ever had and it’s practically now my favorite restaurant – great food and service, but with a side of frivolity – absolutely no stuffiness to be found, anywhere. I said at the end that I didn’t see how Alinea could top it………..

What can I say about Alinea? I’d been butchering the pronunciation for months (it’s not AlinAYa, it’s AlINEEa)………and I’d been a tad nervous as to what to expect. I can not compare it to Tru or any other restaurant experience, ever. The restaurant was very zen and calm –again, I needed that after a long day of sightseeing. The servers (a team of them, it seemed) were there to take care of my every need, but not intrusive. One of the waiters is from a town not 10 minutes from my hometown; go figure! The sparkling apple cider was so good- a great way to start. The whole evening was just so much fun. I normally read when I am dining alone, but not that night – I wanted to enjoy the whole experience. It lasted about 2: 45 (12 courses), but honestly, the time flew. Everything from the hot potato/cold potato starter (one gulp, like a shot), to the lamb nicoise cube that you pulled out with a thin needle from a pile of eucalyptus trees to the pear drink with some kind of curried eggshell with celery juice inside was incredible – there were things I’d never heard of before on the plates, so many delicious tastes I’d not had before. One of the best dishes was a sweet potato puff with melted liquid inside (sweet potato again, I think), stuck on a cinnamon stick – again, one bite. I love cinnamon and the aroma was absolutely delicious. There was a chocolate mousse-like squiggle with elderberry gelee and confetti on top – how fun! The evening ended with 5 different, tiny cubes of peanut butter concoctions on each of 5 needles –yum!

As I said above, I was nervous about what to expect but Alinea blew me away. The expense was well worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. At first, it seemed as if I was still hungry after the first several courses, but the protein came just before the desserts (kobe beef, etc…….) and in larger portions than the other courses. I ended up feeling perfectly satisfied and able to walk, not waddle, my way back to the subway.

I also have to give a shout out to Salpicon – what a wonderful restaurant: colorful, fun ambience, friendly waitstaff and fabulous food. I started with the grilled shrimp with two sauces: a red, hot one and a green (avocado) one. Great stuff – I couldn’t get enough of the red sauce. Next came grilled quail with a potato/cheese timbale (I think that’s what it’s called; in any case, it was round and layered)- again, yum. The best course? My crepes with goat’s milk caramel for dessert; I love caramel and this was the best I’ve ever had. I literally wanted to lick the plate clean, but my parents brought me up better than that so I used the fork to scrape every last bit of it up. Sigh – dessert heaven.

That’s it for now – thank you for all of your help!

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