Sunday, April 3, 2011
My final stop on my "Chicago Restaurant WeekTour" was Branch 27. The former Chicago Public Library for the 27th Ward was headed until recently by Executive Chef John Manion, a journeyman who headed Mas and Goose Island Brewpub on Clybourn as well as consulting on Rockstar Dogs and Old Oak Tap. As it takes a little while for a new Executive Chef to put his fingerprint on a restaurant, I have to imagine that the menu was largely his. This restaurant is much more casual than the other two although that does not talk down the food to any extent. It was very good. Much of the food had a Brazilian flair to it which should not be surprising because John Manion grew up in Brazil. For my appetizer, I had goat cheese empanadas with chipotle aioli, watermelon radish and cilantro. Whenever I have empanadas I am reminded of (Cornish) pasties which I like, but with the chipotle aioli, it brought some fire to the dish. My entree was called a Moqueca. It is a Brazilian Seafood Stew with fish, prawns, mussels, crab, cilantro risotto, and cashews. The creaminess of the sauce and the risotto really went together with the seafood and I wished I could have had a much bigger bowl of this. And dessert, while simple, was also very good. I suppose though that if a simple dish is served it is that much more difficult because things have to be perfect in order to impress. It was a bread pudding (with cinnamon of course) served with vanilla ice cream. I really enjoyed my meal. Branch 27 is a very nice neighborhood restaurant that you really don't need a reason to go to but can really enjoy the food. It's also close enough to me that I can have a repeat performance here.