Chicago – 2/24/17 – Au Cheval, Milk Room, and Quiote

Au Cheval
Twice in a week and I don’t live in Chicago. I think I have a problem!

Milk Room
I had been wanting to check out Milk Room, coffee bar by day/spirits by night, since it opened but never planned far enough in advance for a reservation. While perhaps cost prohibitive to visit with any regularity, anyone who appreciates the unique and hard-to-find should love Milk Bar.  And with only a few seats you will get plenty of time to chat spirits with the knowledgeable staff.


Quixote
Yet another excellent addition to the Chicago dining scene for 2017.  We enjoyed some tasty mezcal based cocktails in the basement bar before dinner which is worth going early or staying late to visit.  The avocado salad may not look like much but I could eat it everyday and I somehow forgot how much I enjoyed this bone marrow dish until going though the photos.  Thank you for the excellent hospitality Daniel D!

quesillo y jamon – country ham, queso Oaxaca, escabeche

aguachile – hamachi, pomegranate, walnut, habanero, mint

avocado salad – brussel sprouts, lemon, tomatillo, quinoa

pork collar – pasilla, pinto beans, gem lettuce

bone marrow – avocado, salsa macha, sourdough

chorizo verde – potato, raisin, poblano

Chicago – 9/15/16 – Au Cheval and Roister

Au Cheval
Of course now that United’s fares from EWR to ORD have been cut in half there is talk of Au Cheval coming to New York.  This burger was my reward for the dozens and dozens of trips I have made to Chicago, especially those early morning flights to be there by 11am when it opens for lunch.

Roister
A seat at the hearth at Roister may be my new favorite place in Chicago.  In a way the plating is deceiving as some of these dishes are dark and are not necessarily made for today’s instagram age.  And while looks can be deceiving, menu descriptions can be as well.  Oysters are one of the very few foods that I genuinely dislike.  I have been trying to train myself to like them for 2 years now but was set back by an unfortunate episode of food poisoning.  When Chef Brochu kindly sent out a gift of the smoked oysters my stomach sank.  I was dining with my mother, the only person I know who dislikes oysters more than I do, and who would be of no help in eating these.  I made her try one and she admitted it wasn’t bad at all (which is a very high compliment).   I happily ate the rest as they were completely delicious.  I love having my mind changed about an ingredient.  The fries I likely would not have ordered myself as bonito and tofu are not ingredients I particularly enjoy but a friend ordered them on a previous visit and I had to have them again. Then there is the chicken that I still think about.  The leftovers are the first thing I have ever taken in a doggie bag from any meal while traveling.  I cleaned out half of the hotel mini bar and we ate the rest for breakfast. It may have been even better.

Tomato bread – mayo, shallot, pecan oil

Aged cheddar rillettes – truffle, cauliflower, fry bread

Chow chow mein – aged cabbage, noodles, relish

Cucumber – melon, smoked creme fraiche

Smoked oysters – garlic butter, breadcrumbs

Yukon fries – soy dusted, bonito flakes, tofu mayo

Whole chicken & chamomile – braised, poached, fried with sunchokes

Hushpuppies – corn crema, sour corn, manchego

Chicago – 2/12/16 – Au Cheval, Cold Storage, CAA, Aviary, and Next Alps

Au Cheval
Where else to start a whirlwind one day tour of some of my favorite places in Chicago than at Au Cheval?   I know I have had burger blinders on for years and have largely ignored the rest of the menu venturing only as far as the raw vegetable salad.  A huge thank you to our server who told us that the beef cheek marmalade could be ordered as a side dish.  How I have lived without this I don’t know.  Next time I may thrown caution to the wind and add it to my burger.

pickles
beef cheek marmalade and toast
 ​cheeseburger with egg and bacon


Cold Storage

Some travel days call for a double lunch, and not only a double lunch but going big with the large seafood tower.  After visiting Swift & Sons a few weeks prior I was looking forward to checking out its more casual inner restaurant.  Fantastic hospitality.  How we ate this all I don’t know.


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Chicago Athletic Association 
For years before the Chicago Athletic Association opened as a hotel, I looked at the amazing facade from across Michigan Avenue on many of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s walking tours.  I just love everything they have done to maintain the original details and character and can’t help but walk through whenever I pass it.  Unfortunately the cocktails in the grand lobby were far from fantastic, but ambience almost made up for it.

Sidecar and Negroni 

Aviary

As anybody who reads this blog likely knows, Aviary is my favorite place in Chicago.  Not only have I met many people here who have become incredible friends, but I am always blown away by something new on the menu.  I am always nervous bringing somebody new here, afraid that they won’t like it as much as I do or I have talked it up too much.  But when the person gets it and is as excited about the experience as I always am, these are the best visits of all.  Many, many pictures missing somehow.

Loaded to the Gunwalls

Next Alps
This was an absolutely frigid day which made the Next Alps menu the perfect dinner.  A very fun menu separated into six sections – the French farmhouse, the German beer hall, the warming yurt, the top of the Swiss mountain, intro to Italy and Austrian sweets.  While there wasn’t necessarily one stand out dish for me as there has been on previous menus, anytime you can have raclette is special and this is definitely a menu that I would happily repeat.


   stone soup
 ​gratin of Beaufort and trumpet crozets

game pie
 tourton of salsify and apple

 gateau de St. Genix avec du beurre de chevre
 pork belly schnitzel with cherry and black walnut
 ​pretzel, sausages and pickles


 Raclette with potatoes, fermented mustard greens, chestnuts, and black truffles

 Augustiner Brau Edelstoff lager
 chocolate with black truffle and milk crisp
 preserved summer berries with cognac and honey
 smoked arctic char with cauliflower and juniper

 
goulash of beef and Barolo with sour cornbread

 bitter green salad with pomegranate and fennel ice

Salzburger nockerl
 pie spiced ice cream
 apple strudel with clove and cinnamon

And as if this wasn’t enough in one day, missing from the photos are cocktails at Grace as well as post dinner in the Office.

Chicago – 5/31/15 – Au Cheval and Next Tapas

Au Cheval 
This will officially be my last blog posting that includes Au Cheval. Why? Because I love it too much, visit too often, and while I can look at this burger all day every day, I’m guessing some of my readers may become a bit bored with it. Chances are it will remain my favorite burger anywhere and I will be eating them just as often though!

Next Tapas
After the outdoor preview two nights prior I was very much looking forward to this menu. While I have liked and appreciated every Next menu for different reasons, I can admit that there are only a few that I have loved enough that I immediately wanted to repeat.  This is definitely one of them.  The contrast of the more simple dishes, like the absolutely perfect tortilla, with the very complex, such as the patatas bravas, was fantastic. I never cease to be impressed!

anchoas y aceitunas
coliflor asada con chorizo y coca cardona
hongos y cebolla


mejillones enlatados
pulpo y berenjena

  
cerdo y romesco
cebollas a la parrilla


yema de huevo frito

aceitunas de albert adria
brandada crujiente

datiles con jerez y chocolate

pomelo quemado y pinones

un plato de jamon iberico de bellota

esparragos y sepia

patatas bravas

chuleton
tortilla

gambas con fresas y habas

  
caramelo de aceite de oliva

chocolate con arandanos y avellana

fartons

tarta de queso