After my early October visit, I had not planned to return to Chicago until sometime early next year. However, some unused vacation time gave me the chance to add an extra three-day weekend to my schedule, so I scheduled a one-night stop in Chicago to check out the fall-to-early-winter menu. There were a few courses that were the same or similar but with slightly different ingredients. There were also some changes in dish sequencing for the familiar ones from the prior visit.
Since this visit was with a friend, we brought along two bottles of wine to have with dinner – a Chassagne-Montrachet for the white wine and an older Rioja for the red wine.
The first dish is one that I had on the last visit, but not as the first dish on the menu. It was whipped foie gras at the bottom with Australian finger limes, freeze-dried mango and rice sticks to form the nest. The garnish at the top was citrus marigold. There were lots of texture and flavor contrasts to make this a nice opening course.
This dish featured King crab, with a thick (sliceable) butternut squash panna cotta, crispy speck, land caviar (actiually the seed from an herbal plant called Bassia Scoparia, with a taste and texture similar to quinoa). A mixture of lettuces and herbs formed the salad.
This course included wood ear mushrooms (instead of the lobster mushrooms from last time) as the main ingredient. A shellfish sauce made from Spanish scarlet prawns dressed the mushrooms. A homemade XO sauce added a little spiciness to the flavors, and char roe added some saltiness and texture. Sea vegetables finished off the composition (dulse (red algae lettuce fried), a succulent called ice bud, Okinawa sea grape). There were a lot of texture contrasts to each bite, as well as a nice savoriness.
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