Sunday, October 30, 2011


I went to C-House Restaurant on Saturday night. It is listed as the restaurant of James Beard Award Winning Chef, Marcus Samuelsson. While Chef Samuelsson is the Executive Chef, he is also based in New York and the job of achieving his vision falls on his Chef de Cuisine, Nicole Pederson, who, among other things was last Sous Chef at Lula Cafe. Located in the Affinia Hotel in Streeterville, C-House is largely a seasonal restaurant focusing on seafood although it does have some fowl and red meat on the menu. The restaurant is in a high celinged room that is fairly narrow and deep with an open kitchen. The walls and ceiling are white but there is a lot of copper and brown trim and several sepia-toned photographs with a nautical theme. All of the tables were pretty large and I was seated in a very comfortable corner on a leather bench seat with some nice pillows. While I was perusing the menu, I was brought a bowl of bread. Now I wouldn't normally talk about bread because most places will provide you with bread and most of the time it is pretty good but this bread was amazing. It was a small round loaf sliced into six pieces and sprinkled with cheese. The loaf was very soft but the crust had a very light crispiness. While C-House does have items on their menu that are not seafood and both Marcus Samuelsson and Nicole Pederson are both talented chefs, because C-House is nominally a seafood restaurant, I decided to stick with those food items that started with shells and/or lived in the water. For my appetizer, I ordered an oven-roasted tomato and escargot terrine with bulgur wheat, confited fennel, topped with frisee, and served with a toasted baguette. A terrine, for those who are unfamiliar, is similar to a pate, although it is ground to a rougher texture. My past experience with escargot has had it cooked with a lot of garlic which will make anything taste good. In this case, while the snails were chopped, they had the texture that I was used to, that of a slightly tough mushroom. The flavor was more subtle but it was still good. It had a slightly beefy earthy flavor and the roasted tomatoes were chewy and had an intense tomato flavor. It was all very good, especially on the toasted baguette and it got me ready for my entree.The entree was incredible. It was an explosion of flavors and textures and would have been good even without the main protein. It consisted of thick, hand-cut pasta, pepitos (fried pumpkin seeds), calabrian peppers, aleppo pepper, fried baby octopus, and guanciale. It was slightly spicy and very lemony so I have to guess that there was quite a bit of lemon juice that was also included in the dish. It was both crunchy and chewy and so good that I cleaned my plate very well. This was one of the cheaper entrees on the menu and I felt a little guilty about that so I also ordered a side of house cut french fries with house made ketchup. The fries were good although they weren't as good as the frites that I have had at other places. the ketchup was sweet, slightly spicy, and peppery and was some of the best ketchup that I have had.While I did like the fries, I was wondering about my decision to order them when it came time to order dessert. I wasn't full after I had eaten all of this but I had a feeling that I would be on the uncomfortable side of full if I ordered dessert. One of the best thing about going to many fine dining establishments is the dessert and I had had a cupcake made by the pastry chef of C-House when I was at the Meals on Wheels Celebrity Chef Ball so I wasn't going to turn dessert away. I would deal with the discomfort. The dessert was eye opening and made me come to the conclusion that I am going to have to amend my likes and dislikes. On the menu it was listed as gingerbread with pears, figs, and creme fraiche. I have mentioned in the past that I don't like pears but I don't have a problem trying them in a dish. If I don't like them, I will just deal with it. What the dish consisted of was 3 slices of gingerbread with a fig puree between them, a creme fraich gelato on top, and poached pears spread around the dish. There were also long slices of lemon zest winding through the gelato. Dessert was very good, even including the pears. I have had cooked pears several times and have not had a problem with them. I think what I don't like is raw pears.

This was a very good meal at a nice restaurant. I really enjoyed the food and the service was excellent. While this place is nominally a seafood restaurant, I think that I may try the steak, chicken or pork, the next time I visit. The chefs here are very talented and there is nothing to say that they can't do something other than seafood.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bistro Bordeaux

I normally wouldn't go all the way to Evanston to have dinner. There are enough restaurants in Chicago to keep me satisfied. I was however recently in Evanston for other reasons and as I was there around dinner time it didn't make any sense to come back to Chicago before eating. There are several restaurants of interest in Evanston so it wasn't hard to find something. I decided to stop at a place that I had read about that sounded kind of interesting. Bistro Bordeaux has what they call a "couture prix fixe". If you order the prix fixe, the chef will come out to talk to you to figure out your likes and will suggest your dinner. It sounded like a really cool idea so i decided to try it out. I like French food in general so I figured that I couldn't lose. After a short conversation, the chef suggested for me the soup, a beet and goat cheese salad, monkfish and escargot, and a dessert of my choice. It sounded good so I let the chef drive. The soup came out after a few minutes and admittedly it really didn't look that appetizing. This soup was a grey-brown. I was expecting something a little more brightly colored after having the squash soup at Bistro Voltaire. After tasting it, I was relieved. It was a Duxelle mushroom soup which should have been grey-brown. It was creamy, mushroomy, and had a nice dollop of creme fraiche in the middle. Despite not looking so great at first, it was a good start.
After the soup came the salad. I have had beet and goat cheese salads before and I like the combination but this was a little different. The beets were roasted baby beets. They were very tender and the flavor wasn't quite as strong as a mature beet. The goat cheese creamy and was roasted in a chestnut leaf giving a slightly smoky flavor and the greens were mache which is a type of leaf lettuce that tastes kind of like a sweeter arugula. It was a good combination and the good dinner continued.The entree was both surprising and amazing. It consisted of a large piece of monkfish on top of sliced sunchokes. It was served with burgundy soaked escargot and celery root soup. The monkfish was tender and tasted really good. I thought the combination with the snails was ingenious. The snails had their typical beefy flavor and the burgundy was a good complement. The sunchokes provided a nice crunch and the celery root soup was nice and creamy. It was a great dish and I almost was sorry that I finished it but dessert was next so I wasn't too sorry.
After I finished my entree, the chef came back to try to figure out what kind of dessert that I wanted. This was actually pretty easy because he mentioned it when he was talking yo me about the rest of the dinner. I had the creme brulee. I love creme brulee especially if it's done well and this was done very well. There was a nice crunchy crust over a very creamy custard. It was a nice finish to a good supper and if I happen to be in Evanston again, it would be nice to try it again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meals on Wheels Celebrity Chef Ball

There are three major benefits that bring out a multitude of chefs and fine dining institutions, the CF Grand Chefs Gala which happens in January, the Common Threads World Festival in March, and the Meals on Wheels Celebrity Chef Ball in October. I was able to go to the ball most recently and it was great. While there is a sit down dinner that starts this off, I just came for the tasting party. There were 69 chefs/restaurants represented and while I would have liked to have tried all of them, there was no way that that was going to happen. I actually wasn't even that systematic about my attack, bouncing here, there and every where. Even bouncing around, I did get to try a wide variety of stuff. I ended up trying 24 dishes and while I would have liked to take pictures of everything, I also wanted to eat. A favorite included the Scotch Egg by Dirk Flanigan of The Gage. A Scotch Egg is a hardboiled egg that's wrapped in sausage, breaded and fried. It was served with dijon mustard and it was awesome. The first thing that I actually tried was a lamb sausage served with mint and cilantro sauce by Radhika Desai of Top Chef fame, formerly of Between and English. It was a good start and led me to the Fried Chicken and Waffles served by Michelle Garcia of Bleeding Heart Bakery and the chorizo stuffed chicken wing by Michael McDonald of one sixtyblue. Wandering around brought me to Jeffrey Hedin of Leopold who was serving a Rabbit Rillette on Pumpernickel with a Horseradish Pickle. This was very nice and surprisingly, the horseradish didn't take my head off.

I could continue to list all of the things that I tried but that would make for a long post without much more than my saying that it was really good and I liked it. Of the savory courses, I do have to mention the Ginger-Shrimp Sausage roasted in a Spiced Mini Pumpkin made by Allen Sternweiler of Butcher & the Burger and the Indiana Duck Ropa Vieja, Vanilla-Pear Jam, and Mallorcan Toast by Randy Zweiban of Province.

I couldn't end without talking about dessert. I had Peanut Butter Pie in an Oreo-Pretzel Crumb Crust with Bacon Peanut Brittle by Hedy Goldsmith of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, a Devil's Food Cupcake with Minted Buttercream by Melissa Trimmer of C-House, and both Pear Parfait with Acorn Brioche Croutons and Chocolate Salted Caramels by Patrick Fahy of Cafe des Architectes.

It was an excellent dinner and I left very stuffed. I can hardly wait until next year.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bistro Voltaire

I went, on Wednesday, to a Wine Dinner at Bistro Voltaire. I had never been there before but I feel that even after having gone, I still, in fairness, can not review the restaurant. While it was in the restaurant and the regular staff was working, the cuisine served for the wine dinner, while very French, was not on the menu. I can say that I liked the atmosphere and the service were enough to convince me to actually try the menu. I do have to admit though, that I do really like French food so that is an easy decision. The restaurant is located in the former original Bar Louie space and while the restaurant is the same shape, it is designed, as one might guess, very different. There is a large portrait of Voltaire painted on the wall near the front of the restaurant with a quote in French that translates to, "Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.", a quote that I think is very appropriate for a restaurant. The tables all had white tablecloths, the floor was tile, the the tin roof was painted white. The background music was french crooner music which was actually kind of nice.

Because I was by myself, I sat at the bar and talked to the restaurant manager and the bar tender, both of whom were very nice and were very good at making sure that I had plenty of wine. My first course was a roasted onion with salsify, oyster mushrooms, and aged sherry salt. The onion was much sweeter than I expected and the mushrooms and salsify provided a nice texture and taste. It was a good start to a good meal.The next course was the soup and it was a wonderful soup. It was a turban squash puree with eggplant crotoutons and a tomato compote. I am not normally a fan of eggplant, I find it kind of slimy and can be bitter but these croutons were amazing. They were lightly crunchy and had the good flavor of eggplant. The tomato compote did a good job bringing the eggplant and the squash together while providing some tartness for contrast.The next course was my favorite course. It combined a my two favorite meats, duck and bacon. With duck and bacon, how can you go wrong? It was a Pannequet of duck confit, lentils de Puy with bacon, and a saba vinaigrette. The pannequet was a rolled crepe filled with duck confit. The lentils surrounding it were cooked with bacon and the vinaigrette looked and tasted very baslamic. The crepe was crispy and tasted light and the duck confit went great with the bacon.
The fish course came next. We were served a red snapper with a vanilla-saffron emulsion, parsley puree potatoes, and baby carrots. While it tasted good, the skin was a little too crispy. The vanilla-saffron emulsion was really good. The two flavors are very distinctive and it didn't cross my mind that they would pair well but they do. The mashed potatoes tasted okay but the fact that they were green was a little odd and the baby carrots (which were actually baby carrots) were a little too crisp.
We started with a vegetable, we went to soup, a fowl (with pork), and then a fish. The only thing we hadn't hit was beef so that's where we went next and it was a very nice piece of beef. We had a grilled ribeye with olive oil poached cabbage, beet polenta (I seem to be running into a lot of beets lately, of course it is fall), and a violette jus. The steak was a little on the thin side but that's relatively standard for a french steak. It had a nice sear on the outside and the inside was nicely pink as was the beet polenta. The cabbage provided a nice tartness to the course.
It was a good dinner and I was actually probably could have walked out without dessert but how can you walk out of a French restaurant without having dessert? Dessert was an apple galette (similar to a tart) with malt ice cream and mint. It was a very nice finish to a very nice meal and as I said at the beginning, this is a place that I would be happy to come back and try their regular menu.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Little Bucharest Bistro

Romania is known for two things, vampires and goulash. Little Bucharest Bistro, named for the capitol of Romania, has some very good goulash but I saw no vampires when I was there over the weekend. The building is trimmed in orange and has a very old world look. The dining area is large and very open with brick walls, white tablecloth covered tables, and hardwood floors. There was also a wall decoration that was lit with a fire decoration and framed with carved stone that looks like clouds or feathers. The decoration was surrounded on each side with stained glass windows. The decoration looks very nice but being a Romanian Restaurant, I thought (not very seriously) that the entrance could be an entrance to a crypt. We arrived early and were able to sit anywhere so I chose a seat by one of the large windows. Our waitress was very friendly but she did have a little trouble with English so she was helped by the owner, Branko Podrumedic, who is very friendly, lively, and interested in his customers. We ordered our dinner and awaited our food. I ordered a Roasted Beet Carpaccio with mixed greens, Spiced Nuts, Goat Cheese, and a Citrus Vinaigrette. The serving size was very large but this is not a complaint because I like the combination of beets and goat cheese and it tasted very good. The beets were a little softer than I prefer but it they were firm enough and it didn't take away much from the dish. Also ordered for appetizers were Roasted Red Peppers with Tomatoes, Cucumber, Garlic, and a vinaigrette and the Bruschetta which used tomatoes, herbs, and Parmesan cheese on grilled bread. which were both good.My entree was a Short Rib Goulash with tomatoes, green beans, and a ricotta gnocchi in a natural jus and pearl onions on top. While I would expect a goulash to contain beef, tomatoes, and pasta, this is a very good upscaling. The short rib was very tender and flavorful, the gnocchi was soft and chewy (in a good way), and the sauce had a nice spice to it. The other entrees were a Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Thigh with gorgonzola polenta and rustic tomato sauce and a breaded shrimp dish which were both very good.

I really enjoyed myself at this restaurant and will return. The food is good with an interesting spin on Eastern European cuisine, the prices aren't bad, the service was friendly, and I was glad not to see any vampires.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Opacity: Dinner in the Dark

Would you have a dinner in a place that you have never been without being able to see what you were eating? A friend of mine told me about this because she thought that I was an adventurous eater. She was correct and I dove at the chance to try this. The event is called Opacity and the idea is that you go to the set location, which turned out to be a nice mansion in River North, to eat a five course dinner at communal tables in the dark. The chef listed a link to Clandestino Dining, a premier underground supper club in Chicago so I had confidence that this would be good. The event happened on Fridays so I looked at my schedule and found a date that would work. The event was to go from 8-10 pm and I figured that they wouldn't be able to seat everyone immediately so I arrived a little early. The place looked pretty big from the outside but that was all I saw until the end of the evening. I walked up the stairs to the main entrance and met the hostess in a small alcove. She checked for my name and handed me the blindfold shown above. Before I put my blindfold on, I did notice that the room beyond was dimly lit in a green light but I didn't really see anything. I was guided to my table and was sat at the end which I liked because it gave me the illusion of having more room. The hostess that led me to my chair directed my hands to the water and wine glass, the event was BYOB and I brought a bottle of wine, and gave me instructions on how things were going to work. They poured my first glass of wine and was told that if I needed a refill to raise my hand. I was also to raise my hand if I needed to use the restroom or otherwise leave my seat. I was also told that if the waitstaff was bringing something to me that they would tap my right shoulder and that there was no silverware and all of the food would be eaten by hand. While I was waiting for the room to fill up, I was tapped on my right shoulder and a bread plate was brought to me. They did tap my shoulder but I smelled it wheLinkn they put it down. It was very good bread. There was no butter or any type of spread but it did have a light sugar topping whichLink was nice. I could tell that the room filled up because the room got pretty loud. It sounded as if there were several tables. The people sitting closest to me were not speaking English and sounded like they were speaking Urdu. This was probably the toughest part of the night. I could tell that there was a lot going on and people sounded excited but I couldn't understand what they were saying. This was very isolating and actually made it kind of difficult to keep my blindfold on. I left it on and dinner soon started. The host first came out and explained that the dinner was benefiting The Foundation for Retinal Research and the point of the evening was to give the diners a brief experience of blindness. The chef was then introduced and she told us that all of the food was local and/or organic and seasonal. She said that she would come out before every course to explain it and to hope that we enjoyed our dinners.

The first course was called the Amuse Bouche and consisted of a black olive clafoutis with an orange scallion slaw. I was actually kind of surprised that I liked this. It was slightly cakey and sweet but the flavor of the olive and the scallion came out and the orange provided a nice tartness to the dish. It was a good start to the meal.

The next course was the salad course although texturally, it was nothing like a salad. It was a carrot and parsley sorbet with a lemon confit served in a slightly bowled ginger cracker. The flavors for this were right on and I liked it as far as flavor was concerned. The texture on the other hand was another issue. The sorbet was soft and as soon as the cracker was bitten into, it was all over the place. We were warned to lean over our plates when eating it which I did but my hands still became very messy.

The first entree was a scallop course. We were provided two scallops and one slice of plantain that were fried in duck fat. There was an avocado and grapefruit sabayon and everything was garnished with a fried basil leaf. I liked all of the flavors of this dish as well although I will admit that it was a bit difficult to find the sabayon. Once I did find it, I ended up running my fingers through it and licking it off my fingers. I had visions of babyhood going through my head after doing this.

The second entree was probably one of the easiest dishes to eat. It consisted of house-made lamb sausage, cardamom-parsnip puree, and a thyme and lavender gelee wrapped in a crisp radicchio leaf. When I first bit into this, I got a sharp taste of bitter which I didn't like. Once I got to the sausage, it was fine but I have to guess that the gelee was the bitter part that I didn't like.

We finally arrived at dessert which almost sounded mainstream. There were two ricotta cheesecake pops drizzled with a peach-rose simple syrup and rolled in crushed pistachios. It was a nice finish to a very adventurous dinner.

When we finished, the host came out and told us that we could unmask ourselves which I did. The room that we were in was large with about 8 - 8 person tables spread throughout the room. As a finish, I will say that while there were elements of different dishes that I didn't care for, the service was excellent as was the experience. While I was told to raise my hand when I needed a refill with my wine or water, they always were there before I raised my hand and my finished plates were bussed without my noticing it. This event was a lot of fun and I would recommend anyone who has a love adventure to try it although I would also advise not to go alone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cultivate Festival

While I like Chipotle, I would never blog about the restaurant as such because they are everywhere. I don't think I need to tell anyone about it because people already know about them and they can make their own opinions. I will, however, talk about the Cultivate Festival presented by Chipotle which was in Chicago last Saturday. The Cultivate Festival was a celebration of the farmer and sustainable farming practices. Chipotle had several booths selling food and trying out new recipes (at a very reasonable price). They served chicken and steak soft tacos with blue corn tortillas, fresh vegetables, and salsa which was just as good as the stuff that they sell in their restaurants.
They also had carnitas tostadas which, while it tasted pretty good, was pretty messy. It was kind of like trying to eat well covered nachos with your hands. They were also selling pozole and barbacoa chili. I tried the pozole and while it was really good, it had no meat. While I realize the key ingredient in pozole is hominy, all of the other pozole that I have ever had has also included some sort of meat, usually pork. I didn't try the chili but I'm sure it was good as well. In addition to their food tents, they also had five stations where they talked about sustainable farming practices and practices that they promote. If you visited four of these stations, you could get a certificate for a free burrito at any Chipotle.While Chipotle was sponsoring the festival, they were not the only game in town. There was an artisan tent where artisanal food vendors like Seedling Fruit Farm, Black Dog Gelato, Rich Chocolates, and Joe's Blues that were there to promote the way they did things and obviously to sell their wares. There were more vendors there than I could try, but I did my best. Joe's Blues was selliing something that didn't sound like it should work. It was a corn cake on top of which was a pulled pork stew. This would have been great but when they topped it with blueberries, it was weird enough that I had to try it. In my mind, it shouldn't have worked but it was really good. There was also a brewers tent with 15 local brewers and vintners. The beer was sold by the pint or the 3 oz cup. I like trying several beers so I liked the 3 oz pours.
The entertainment was very well coordinated. There were two tents doing chef demos bringing in chefs that are both well known locally and nationally and pairing them with a local farmer. The chef, some of whom had existing relationships with the farmers with which they were paired, would make something with something that the farmer would provide. There were five demos in each tent and it was a combination of local and nationally known chefs doing a demo every hour and a half. The demos would last 45 minutes and some pretty good bands (including White Rabbits and Calexico, who finished the festival) played on a separate stage between demos. One of the demo tents did demos, the other tent, where most of the local chefs worked, also provided samples. I saw five demos, three with samples, two without but it was okay because they were still good. Jonathan Waxman essentially made a Dietzler Farm strip roast. He was funny and the steak looked good. I then went to the other tent and saw Paul Virant (Vie, Perrennial Virant) making a Panzanella with Dietzler Farm steak. It was very good and I forgot to take a picture of it. I did, however, take a picture of my next sample, a Kabocha Squash Cutlet with Pumpkin Seed Coulis (like curry), with apples and pecans by Bruce Sherman of North Pond. It was really good and it was nice that he gave the audience the recipe. Tony Mantuano made pasta and a kale pesto which looked good but unfortunately he did it in the tent that strictly was doing the demos.The last demo I went to was a beer and cheese tasting by Goose Island Brewery's Education Director, Susan Wolcott. We had a Matilda and a Sofie paired with a creamy goat cheese and a white cheddar. Both of the cheeses were local but I don't remember what dairies that they came from. We learned how exactly to taste the beer and cheese together and saw that they had very similar flavor profiles. It was fun and good and I learned something.

This was a very cool festival and I hope it comes back next year. It was very well coordinated, it wasn't that crowded, and it was free to enter, see the bands, and the chef demos. The food and beer did cost some money but everything was reasonably priced. It was a very long day but it was a lot of fun.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I first encountered Chef Paul Virant at a chef demo at Green City Market. As he had a limited amount of time and resources and he was cooking for a large number of people, what he made there was pretty simple, a grilled goat cheese sandwich with some house-made bread from his restaurant, Vie, but as simple as it was, it was still really good. He seemed very friendly and personable and the way that he talked about making food local and seasonal made me really interested in his restaurant. Unfortunately, his restaurant is way out in the suburbs and I don't own a car so this was a little bit of a drawback and I didn't really consider it. For whatever reason, I looked to see exactly where it was and found that it was half a block from a train station so there really was no reason not to go and I made plans to go out for dinner. I went last Friday and easily found it because the building is huge. I went in expecting a huge open area with high ceilings but this wasn't what I found. The alcove was small and led to a small bar area. As I esd led to my table, it was like walking through a maze. There were several small interconnected rooms. The room that I was in could probably seat about 30 people. The walls were light grey, the tables and chairs were aluminum with white padding and tablecloth, and there was track lighting, and black and white pictures of nature and railroads in different seasons hanging on the walls. The music was a nice mix of lighter (but not light) rock. Different artists I heard included Jackson Browne, REM, The Beatles, The Decemberists, and Sarah Maclachlan. As I made the journey out there, I decided to go for the 5 course chef's menu with wine pairings. I told the waiter this and we quickly began. Before any of my official courses came out, I was given an Amuse Bouche. I am not exactly sure all of what was in it but it included almonds, chives, some sort of mild fish, and grapes, covered in some sort of cream sauce. It was crunchy and creamy and pretty good even if I didn't know exactly what it was.
After the Amuse Bouche, the dinner began. All of the courses that I was served could be found on the menu. The first was the appetizer. I was served a Yukon Gold potato gnocchi, roasted butternut squash, Klug farm grapes, red onion aigre doux, and Prairie Fruits Farm chevre. Aigre doux means sweet and sour and this is what it was. It had a nice tart sweetnesswhich brought together the squash and the goat cheese. The grapes also helped to bring everything together. The gnocchi was soft and provided a nice counterpoint to the firmness of the squash. The waiter implied that they were known for their gnocchi and I can see why.The first of my entrees was a crispy baby barramundi with Anson Mills Charleston Gold rice, bacon braised red cabbage, Klug Farm seedless grapes, and a red wine reduction sauce. When they first brought it out, I swore that it was a beef dish because it was so red but I then noticed the scale marks on the skin. Barramundi, or Australian Sea Bass as it is also known, has a rather strong flavor so a red wine sauce would go with it well which it did. When the dish was served, I was told about the bacon braised red cabbage but all I saw, other than the fish, was the rice. The rice was served in a risotto style and was really good. As I worked my way through the dish, I saw that the cabbage was on the other side of the fish from the rice. I like red cabbage. It's nice and sweet and the bacon made it even better.As I was having a 5 course meal, that worked out to two entrees. I mentioned that I thought my first entree was beef, my second entree actually was beef. It was a wood-grilled dry-aged Dietzler Farm beef loin with braised beef and potato gratin, stout braised candy onions, wilted local greens, wood-grilled brussel sprouts, and beef jus. The loin was nice and tender and very juicy. The braised beef that topped the potato gratin was actually beef cheek that had been frozen and shredded before it was braised. It was sweet and reminded me of beef bacon which went well with the gratin. The grilled brussel sprouts had grill marks on them and went well with everything else. They were also helpful with wiping up the jus.
The next course was a cheese course. I was given several slices of Dante Cheese which is a sheep's milk cheese similar to Manchego but made by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-op instead of a dairy in Spain. It was served with a house-made and toasted bread, some mixed baby greens, and a peach mostarda. I had never had a peach mustard but it was pretty interesting and it went well with the cheese. While the wine pairings that I had been served were good, the pairing with the cheese was best. It was an Argentinian Wine that for all the world smelled like sweet peaches but was pretty dry and contained no peaches.
Before my dessert, I was brought a sorbet course as a palate cleanser. It was a tangerine sorbet. While I normally like tangerines, I have to say that this really did nothing for me. I suppose that it was a good sorbet because everything else that I had had was really good but it reminded me of canteloupe and I could have done without it.
After that palate cleanser, I was ready to have my palate cleansed of that. Dessert was a red kuri squash gooey butter cake with a pear squash chutney, pear ginger sorbet, and whipped cream. I generally don't like the texture of pears but the flavor is fine. I was a little apprehensive but this was actually really good. The squash in the chutney moderated the pears and the sorbet was really good.

I really enjoyed my time here and have to say that this was probably one of the best dinners that I have had this year. While the restaurant is kind of expensive, I would have no problem recommending it to anyone. While the distance is an issue, if someone wanted to come here, I would bite the bullet and travel out here to enjoy the food.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


At work, I am considered the restaurant expert so it falls on me when we want to go out. It would be very easy to choose a chain but what fun is that? While I will occasionally choose Chipotle, most of the time I like to pick an independent place. Bonus points if it's a place that we haven't been to yet. We were looking for a place to go for lunch on Friday and I came across Hungry? Located in a strip mall that is actually a little difficult to get into, it's a counter service restaurant that is kind of a step up from fast food. It has an enormous menu that resembles what you might get at a Greek diner. It serves breakfast all day, several burgers, a variety of hot sandwiches, in addition to shepherd's pie, fish and chips, pork chops, and kebabs. The service was interesting. While you order do order at a counter, if you are eating there, your food is brought to you on an actual plate and are given real silverware. Standard diner fare includes a reuben which was what I ordered. It was pretty good if not fantastic. The rye was light and was grilled to a nice crunch. the corned beef was finely chopped, and the sauerkraut was nicely sauer. The Thousand Island Dressing was applied very lightly though. While I am not saying that it should have been slathered with Thousand Island Dressing, it would have been nice to not have to concentrate to taste it.

While Hungry? isn't haute cuisine, it isn't bad, there are a lot of choices and the price is pretty good. It's a good choice for lunch in the burbs.