Chicago – 8/25/17 – Roister and Alinea

If you haven’t been to Roister and live in Chicago we probably can’t be friends. Always excellent and dishes that are so much better than they read on the menu. The spicy cucumber salad I could easily eat once a day forever. And those grits may not look like much…but the scallop XO….amazing. Some others told me that the foie gras toast was too sweet. But as dessert is is perfect and evoked so many amazing childhood cinnamon toast memories.

anson mills grits, scallop XO, egg yolk sauce, parmesan

avocado toast, english muffins grapefruit, everything butter

spicy cucumber salad, pineapple-fish sauce dressing, lots of herbs

Foie gras, cinnamon toast, strawberry jam

Still my favorite restaurant a decade later.  Somehow I am missing a few photos because I was enjoying myself too much to be bothered.  Always an an amazing experience and always something new that is a complete surprise.  On this visit, the spud.  Perhaps not the prettiest dish in the era of instagram (despite best efforts which gave me a good laugh) but absolutely delicious.

spear | avocado, coriander

paper | langoustine, bouillabaisse, olive oil

crunch | rouille, nori

ink | olive, artichoke

garden | orange, sherry, tomato

black bass, shellfish, kuzu
kaffir lime, tropical fruit
chicken, rice

steam | hamachi, rosemary, kombu

glass | blueberry, lapsing soughing, maitake

spud | truffle, midwest dairy

toast | gruyere, black truffle, pumpernickel

smoke | veal cheek, pineapple, hearts of palm

rock | sweet potato, chocolate, miso

nostalgia | bubblegum, candy bar

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

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

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

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.

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 – 5/21/16 – mfk, Roister, Green River, Next and Aviary

Each time I have visited mfk I just can’t understand why it is not absolutely packed.  Somehow it has remained Chicago’s best kept secret.  Suffice it to say I love everything on this menu. Ok maybe not the sardine butter but the ceviche could just keep coming all day long.

braised oxtail & potato croquettes, charred tomato aioli

ceviche, poblano guacamole, squid ink tostada

bread, sardine butter, breakfast radishes

roasted & chilled cauliflower, xato, almond, pickled onion

poached shrimp, green papaya, cucumber, sugar snap peas

seafood fideous, toasted vermicelli, piperade, saffron

Unfortunately Roister was not yet open for lunch by this trip as I was hoping so we were forced into Plan B which was a Roister and Next doubleheader. Maybe it doesn’t quite count doing the a la carte menu vs. the Roister menu but there always has to be something to strive for the next time (no pun intended). We were not able to order the larger dishes that I wanted the most (actually willing and able but would regret it later on) but I still think that we did pretty well. As Roister seemed to be so long in the making there was a part of me that feared it would fall short of expectations. But of course I should know better. It was exceedingly difficult to not finish absolutely everything and think about anything other than when I could get back here again.

Yukon fries – soy dusted, bonito flakes, rice vinegar, tofu mayo

Baja hiramasa – black sesame, raspberry, tarragon
Grilled asparagus salad – macadamia nut dressing, fennel, rice

Gulf shrimp toast – red crab butter

Carolina gold rice – hoisin glazed carrots, mushrooms, thai basil

Foie gras – black walnuts, pretzel, marshmallow

Strawberries & milk – jam, gummies, shortbread crumb

Green River

We had to exit the West Loop for a bit of the evening to enjoy some fantastic cocktails from the lovely Julia Momose.

Next South America (Peru)
There is not too much I can say about each visit to Next that I haven’t already said before. But this was easily my second favorite of all of the Next menus and if I lived in Chicago I would certainly be back for the other country iterations. This was a completely seamless transition to Chef Tomaska and I can’t wait to see what he does with the next menu.

Raspadilla – chicha morada, cassia, leche

Pisco sour

banana & passionfruit
corn & chocolate
lime & orange

mackerel, kombu, peanut, cactus fruit

casabe, canchita, solterito de queso
empanada, rocoto relleno, anticucho

Alpaca Wool
escabeche de camaron

paiche, gooseberry, coconut, pork

gallina, humita, pina, salsa criolla

guava & picarones
chocolate, rhubarb, dulce de leche

Because one is never too full for a black truffle explosion.