Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Sepia has been on my radar for a while but I finally got around to going for dinner for Restaurant Week. Located in the West Loop and occupying the same space as an 1890 print shop, it's like walking into the past. The floor is a hexagonal Art Nouveau tile, the lights are hanging and have a classic look to them. There are many pictures from the early 20th century on the walls and there was a large studio camera from the era in the room in which I was dining and the tables were white marble. The walls and accessories were various shades of brown. Being a bit of a photo geek, I loved this space. With Restaurant Week, restaurants put out a 3 course prix fixe menu for $22 for lunch or $33 for dinner. Restaurants also have the option of putting out a 4 course menu for $44 (plus drinks, tax, and tip). While I think I would have been fine with the 3 course menu, the 4th course looked really good so I ordered the 4 course menu. Different restaurants divide their menus differently, Sepia went with two appetizers. My first appetizer was a pumpkin sformato, with sage, walnuts, and a thin slice of ciabata. I had no idea what sformato was, I thought, actually that it was a pasta. I was very wrong. Sformato is actually similar to a quiche but a little more dense. The pumpkin sformato that was presented to me was like a savory custard and was really good. It was topped with smoked walnuts and fresh sage and a thin slice of ciabata. While pumpkin can be sweet, presented with the sage and the walnuts, it tended to the squash side of things. It was really good and I could hardly wait for my next course.Even though I knew what the next course was and was really excited because of it, the first course and the atmosphere of the restaurant was so good that I would have been excited if I didn't know what I was getting. As I did know what I was getting, and it included duck, that was just a bonus. The next course was a cavatelli pasta with a duck sugo and Grana Padano. Sugo is a pasta dish with a tomato and meat based sauce with a hard cheese, in this case, Grana Padano. The pasta was perfectly cooked and slightly toothsome. The duck was chopped very finely but provided a lot of flavor. The sauce was light and flavorful but it was light enough that it allowed the other elements to shine. It was very good and I really enjoyed it.
The entree was a fig stuffed pork tenderloin with potatoes, sauerkraut, and a mustard jus. Admittedly, I didn't remember what the tenderloin was stuffed with when it came to me. I knew it was good and I could tell what everything else was but I had to look it up. It was slightly sweet in contrast to the sour of the jus and the sauerkraut.
I was a little torn when it came to dessert because both sounded good. I had a choice between a chocolate port mousse with chocolate cake, meringue, and almonds and a rose yogurt Bavarian cream with coconut cake, and dried fruit chutney. While they both sounded good, I had to go with the chocolate and I was not disappointed. The mousse was layered on top of the cake, the meringue was a little denser than I would have expected for meringue. It was good but I actually thought as I was eating it that it was a house-made marshmallow. There was a port wine reduction and the almonds were candied. This was a great finish to a great meal and I really enjoyed it.
As I have said, this was a great dinner and I really enjoyed it. The food and service were excellent but I like the atmosphere so much that I will have to go back just for that.