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Chicago Area

Spiaggia Rules! (long)


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Spiaggia Rules! (long)

Akatonbo | Aug 2, 2004 08:37 PM

Just had a birthday (the big 6-0), and we wanted a restaurant occasion appropriate to this important milestone (which is still a shock to the system, despite the fact that Modern Maturity magazine says "60 is the new 40!"). We decided on Spiaggia, which we hadn't been to in years.

Our reservation was at 9:00, and we arrived early, so we had a drink in the bar. The bar munchies consist of a platter divied in three sections - one has mixed nuts, the next has mixed olives, and the third has little triangles of lavosh. Pretty good for bar nibblies!

We were seated promptly, and started with two appetizers, one of scallops, and one of foie gras. The scallops were great, and were seated on a bed of porcini mushrooms so good that we wished we could have a plate just of them. The foie gras appetizer consisted of three little portions. In the middle was a small rectangle of foie gras braised in a traditional manner - melt-in-your mouth delicious. Then there was a mix of foie gras with nuts - perhaps pistachios. Then there was an ambrosial foie gras mousse that tasted like the something they eat on Mount Olympus.

We followed this by splitting a pasta - veal-filled ravioli. Since the dish consisted of 4 ravioli, that means we each had two. They were out of this world. I recall figuring that each single ravioli cost $6.00, and that seemed entirely appropriate.

Next came the entrees - grilled lamb chops for my husband, and the filet with a marrow crust for me. The lamb chops were delicious - and accompanied by something even more delicious: braised lamb, a sort of lamb rillettes, or perhaps it would be more accurate to describe it as "pulled lamb." A round of woodsy-flavored polenta served as the finishing touch.

My filet was superb - the marrow crust adding an entirely superfluous richness. By this time, we were pretty stuffed, but still had room for dessert: a baba, and a mascapone torte - both excellent, but not to die for.

I have to also mention the extra touches: the amusee, which was 2 spoonfulls of fish roe mixed with chopped egg white and seasings I can't recall - very different and quite tasty;eads - a selection of six or seven different breads and rolls - the best of which was subtly flavored with anise; and the complimentary "jewel box" of mini-desserts - chocolate truffles, lemon bars, a miniature cannolli, etc.

The sommelier, Henry Bishop, gave us thoughtful advice on a half-bottle of red wine to go with our meat entrees, otherwise we ordered by the glass. We had some marvellous grappas with dessert, and when one was recommended that was suffused with cammomile, and we weren't wowed by the idea, they gave us a taste of it anyway (and it was good, too).

The service, of course, was the best imaginable. With tip the meal was in the $450 range - and woth every penny (this is a restaurant where the appetizers are the same price range as other expensive places' entrees). We're not millionaires, so it's going to take another special occasion before we can go back - I'm already trying to come up with one!

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