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 – 2/18/17 – Next Ancient Rome

I admittedly was prepared to dislike this menu based on the report of a dear friend whose visit predated mine.  There have been a few Next menus that have been somewhat polarizing and this seems to be one of them.  My expectations were greatly exceeded and I found myself enjoying the theme much more than I thought I would.  With the Roman Cookery book it all made more sense.  And it did not hurt to be dining with the best man in my life, my dad, who is still up on his Latin.


vinum ex atro candidum facies (honey, cabbage, apple, grape)

herbal rusticae (melon, herbs, liquamen)

cuminatum in ostrea et conchylia (kamut pancake, oyster, pomegranate)
isicia ex sphondylis (mussels, saffron, lardo)
patinam de rosis (rose, white asparagus, rosemary)
aliter tubera elixas et asperso sale gusti de cucurbitis (beets, black truffle, chicken skin)


pisam coques (smoked mascarpone, beans, mackerel)

panem (beef fat, poppy & fennel seed)

isicia de sculls vel de cammeris amplis (shrimp, olives, walnut)

aliter porros (leek, cabbage, butternut squash)

pullus farsilis (quali, spelt, lovage)

embalm in cervinam assam (venison, chestnut, laurel)

sales conduits ad multa (oxtail, turnip, horseradish)

aliter car duos (artichoke, carob, citrus)

gaius octavos gustan de praecoquis (goat cheese, honey, fennel)

domum felix (mastic, taffy, lavender)

Chicago – 2/17/17 – Bad Hunter and elske

Bad Hunter

I had heard mixed reviews of Bad Hunter But I’m very glad that I decided to check it out.  For lunch I absolutely love the menu. Everything was fantastic and I am sure it is even better in the summer with the patio open.


carrots & fennel – pistachio-green Chile pesto, avocado cream, queso fresco

smoked salmon tartine – Meyer lemon creme fraiche, celery root, vadouvan


Elske

I hope that the west loop does not soon run out of real estate with the number of restaurants continuing to open there. Elske is yet another fantastic addition and if the duck liver tart was on the a la carte menu it would be very dangerous.

tea of lightly smoked fruits and vegetables

creamed parsnip with osetra caviar

duck liver tart with buckwheat and salted ramps

leeks vinaigrette with toasted oats, olives and blue mound cheddar

confit bass with white beans, charred squash broth and shaved shiitakes

Our additions to the tasting menu which unfortunately I do not have descriptions of


grilled leg of lamb with broccoli, pickled ramps and butter fried almonds

citrus sundae with toasted milk, barley malt caramel and satsuma

Chicago – 1/29/17 – the Bristol

The Bristol is one of the first places I dined at when I started making frequent trips to Chicago many years ago.  Happily it is still as good as it was back then and has a really excellent brunch.  Just as the raviolo is a must-order at dinner, do not miss the cinnamon roll at brunch.  It’s as dangerous as the Moscow mules.


Chicago – 1/28/17 – Alinea Kitchen Table

There are a multitude of reasons that Alinea continues to be my favorite restaurant. As many times as I have been there I am always completely surprised by something new. And I always think back to my first visit quite a long time ago which was the first time I dined alone at a ‘nice’ restaurant. I was so nervous that my hand shook until I had finished my initial glass of champagne. But the experience was perhaps the beginning of my career as a ‘professional’ in conquering a very long tasting menu and I have never felt uncomfortable dining alone since.

I am not sure that I will be able to return to the dining room after this dinner at the kitchen table. I saw the space on my last visit but seeing it and sitting in it are quite different. Just completely fantastic especially with a great group of friends. I very much enjoyed again the dishes that I had previously – especially the scallop, corn, butter that I want several bowls of.  While it is not a substitute for black truffle explosion, the gruyere/black truffle/pumpernickel was delicious and filled the void.  And perhaps my favorite of the night was the very understated parmesan/pea/jamon iberico.  Until next time….




osetra, king crab, condiments

quince, parmesan, date

scallop, corn, butter

cornbread, nori

cider, orange, maple

yuzu

parmesan, pea, jamon iberico


kuzu, pompano, shellfish

pork belly, curry, banana

rosemary, hamachi, kombu

blueberry, lapsang souchong, maitake


mastic, concord

*foie

gruyere, black truffle, pumpernickel

short rib, bitter cocoa, cassis

wagyu, rice, myoga

sweet potato, chocolate, miso

bubble gum, cake, banana



chocolate, cherry, bourbon


sesame, brown butter, gold

Chicago – 1/27/17 – Roister and the Loyalist

Roister
When I finally get caught up on my blog I may need to stop the Roister posts as there will be too many.  I feel guilty typing it but we may have had the whole menu x2 (some photos missing) plus a few off-the-menu extras (thank you Chef!).  My previous go-to lunch spots are out the window.



Hushpuppies, corn crema, sour corn, manchego


Hushpuppies, corn crema, sour corn, manchego

Roasted beets, endive tangerine, blue cheese

Chicken noodle soup, mirepoix, meatball, soft cooked egg

Smoked oysters, garlic butter, breadcrumbs

Anson mills grits, key west pink shrimp, crab curry, thai basil

Fried chicken sandwich, sunchoke hot sauce, chamomile mayo

Biscuits and gravy, hearth roasted eggs, green tomato ragout, swiss

Loyalist
Love the people, service, and food.  But I must admit that I feel the burger was overhyped.  Perhaps the fault of my Facebook friends and not the burger.


Winter squash, burrata, pickled honeycrisp

The Loyalist cheeseburger & fries

Apple upside-down cake, sunflower anglaise, creme fraiche