Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Dawson

Restaurant Week is one of my favorite times of the year.  It gives me a chance to try a bunch of restaurants that might be on my list to try but have not yet made it there and I get to try them at a discount if I decide to go with the Prix Fixe menu they are offering for Restaurant Week.  One of the places I chose this year was The Dawson, the newest restaurant from the team behind The Gage and Henri partnered with a restauranteur behind several notable suburban restaurants.  The Dawson is located at the border of Westtown and River West at a space formerly occupied by the Dawson Brothers, one of the most successful fireplace mantle companies in the United States at the turn of the 20th Century.  Most recently, it was occupied by the breakfast place, Orange.  The space has been completely rebuilt since changing from Orange to return it to a vintage Prairie-Style look.  The front has a darkened window wall with divided windows and a very large wooden door which opens into an entry way with the host's station, that leads to the main floor dining area, or the upstairs lounge.  As I was coming to dine, I was led into the main dining area which was open and had a rectangular bar in the center of the room, and seated at a table in the corner looking out on the patio that is used during more temperate times.  Looking over both menus, the main menu and the Restaurant Week Prix Fixe menu, I saw that there really wasn't much difference in the prices between the rebular menu and the prix fixe so I decided to go with the entire menu.  I started with the Maryland Crab Cakes with Golden Pea Shoots, Cucumbers, Peanuts, and Mustard.  This was very good.  The crab cakes were slightly crisp on the outside and very flavorful with a slight cayenne pepper flavor to go with the crab.  The cucumbers were thinly sliced, crisp,  and tasted as if they were slightly pickled.  The pea shoots were fresh, crisp, and slightly sweet, and provided a vegetal flavor to the dish.  The mustard and peanuts added a little crunch and some tartness for the finish.

I continued with the seafood theme with my entree and ordered the Seared Maine Scallops with Braised Beef Cheek, Cannellini Beans, Blood Oranges, and Potato Chips with Trumpet Mushrooms and Purple Cabbage as Garnishes.  This was a beautiful and very colorful presentation with every element bringing something visually to it.  Unfortunately, while some of the items contributed visually, the dish may have been better had they been removed.  The main items in the dish, the scallops and the beef cheek, were very good and very well prepared.  They were both tender and flavorful.  The blood orange slices and the cannellini beans added both color and flavor, and the little potato chips on the top of each scallop provided a salty and crunchy surprise.  The mushrooms and the cabbage though, while they looked good were very dry.  They were fragrant but it was like they had been dehydrated and someone forgot to rehydrate them. 

For my dessert, I obviously did not go with seafood.  I went classic (and a little decadent) with a Chocolate Cake with Cremeux, Pickled Blueberries, and Amaretto Cream.  A Chocolate Brittle framed the  chocolate cremeux (a very creamy item similar to a mousse).  The cake was very rich and with a dark chocolate flavor.  The cremeux had a rich flavor but was creamy and light.  The brittle was light and crunchy.  The blueberries were juicy and were lightly pickled and tied the cake to the amaretto cream.  Everything tasted good individually and together.

With the dessert, I had a glass of Fernet Branca, an Italian bitter, as a digestif.  Having had it before, I knew that it was thick and bitter and not something that you would slam.  While I happen to like it in small doses, one of my friends has suggested that it has the texture of cough syrup and tastes somewhere between Listerine and Scope.  It is definitely not for everybody's palate.  Despite, or perhaps because of its bitterness, it actually went well with the chocolate cake.

I liked my dinner here.  The space is beautiful although loud, the service was very good, there is a very good beer and cocktail list, and despite the strike with the scallop garnishes, the food was also very good.  There is more to try here so I would be happy to return.   

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I was very excited when I heard that another world famous chef would be setting up shop in Chicago.  Chef Gaston Acurio, Executive Chef of Astrid y Gaston, rated the 14th best restaurant in the world, has been introducing the world to Peruvian Cuisine and its influencing cuisines.  While his primary restaurant is Astrid y Gaston, he has been a culinary tour-de-force, opening 33 restaurants in 12 countries.  His restaurant in Chicago, Tanta, offers Peruvian cuisine from all of its regions and influences with the cocktail menu featuring the Peruvian national drink, Pisco.  Peru is on the Pacific Ocean so they have a lot of seafood on the menu as ceviche and in other preparations.  It also has the Andes and the Amazon River and in addition to the Spaniards and Aboriginal people that settled here, they also have Chinese, Japanese, and Italian populations that immigrated and settled here, so they have a lot of culinary traditions to draw upon.  Chicago is a foodie city that loves trying new and different things so it seems like a natural fit.  The outside of the restaurant is relatively plain and in a single story building although it does have a big and heavy wooden door that kind of reminds me of the entrance to a sushi restaurant.  Entering the restaurant does not dissuade that idea much, although there is a definite Latin twist.  There is a a bar on the left side of the restaurant running back into the bar with the ceviche bar at the end of it.  The dining room is relatively open but there is a half-wall that runs parallel to the bars through the center of the dining room.  Aside from bar seating, the seating is divided between high tops and booths.  The kitchen is in the back of the restaurant and is relatively open.  I sat at the ceviche bar and was able to watch the chefs at the ceviche station put together their orders.  I could also, to a lesser extent, watch the chefs in the kitchen, but the ceviche chefs were more interesting to me.  Before I ordered anything, I was served a basket of Plantain chips wrapped in paper that were served with a light dipping sauce that I was able to enjoy while perusing both the cocktail and food menus.  They were crunchy as a fried plantain might be expected to be and the sauce was tangy and buttery with a spicy finish that went surprisingly well with the plantains.

For my cocktail, I decided to go a little away from their specialty.  There were many Pisco cocktails, and I like pisco, but there was a drink on the menu that stood out for me that really sounded good.  I ordered La Guapa.  La Guapa had City of London Gin, Lavender, Rhubarb, Lemon, and Cremant de Bourgogne (a sparkling wine from Burgundy, France).  The drink was pink, smelled floral, and had a lavender flower floating in it.  I like gin, but this was surprisingly "ginny".  I enjoyed it.  It was refreshing but it was also not something that you might want to drink quickly which was fine because it allowed me to drink it throughout dinner.
 While I mentioned that I sat at the ceviche bar, I did not have ceviche.  I like ceviche and I know that I like ceviche.  I wanted to explore other areas of Peruvian cuisine.  While the food I had used a lot of seafood, it was actually cooked.  I started out with a Pulpo Anticucho.  Pulpo is octopus and an anticucho is a skewer of grilled meat served with a potato and marinated in a sauce of vinegar and spices such as garlic, cumin, and aji pepper, so this was supposed to be a grilled octopus skewer with a vinegar and spice sauce.  Anticuchos are a very popular Peruvian street food.  Everything was there but the skewer which, I imagine was removed before serving.  The Potato was roasted in a Chimichurri Sauce, a sauce made with vinegar, cumin, and garlic, and everything was topped with a Black Olive Cream.  The potato was tender and flavorful with the chimichurri sauce infusing everything and had a nice light crust.  The octopus tentacle was pretty large and perfectly cooked and the olive cream finished everything off nicely.
After the Peruvian street food, I explored the Chinese influence on Peruvian cuisine with Arroz Criollo, a wok stir-fried dish similar to paella.  In addition to the stir-fried rice, it was served with Mussels, Shrimp, more Octopus (baby, this time), Aji Amarillo, White Wine, and Criolla Salad which included Radishes, Cilantro, Cucumbers, Corn, and Cherry Tomatoes.  This was very good with a wide variety of flavors and textures.  The rice was al dente and a little spicy with seafood and flavors.  Every bite brought something new.

I was actually expecting dessert to be a little anticlimactic but I was pleasantly surprised.  I ordered Pie de Limon which listed Lime Mousse with Crispy Quinoa, Cancha, and Lime-Mint Sorbet.  I was actually expecting to be served something similar to a Lemon Meringue Pie with a Lime-Mint Sorbet on the side.  I was correct technically, but the presentation made it something different.  It was served in a goblet with a slightly bruleed meringue next to the lime-mint sorbet on top of the lime mousse.  The crispy quinoa and cancha (Andean corn nuts) formed a crunchy crust on the bottom of the goblet.  It was very tart, as one might expect, but the mint provided a surprising finish. 

I really enjoyed my dinner here and while I had a variety of things here.  I really need to return to continue my exploration because there is a lot more to see and try.  The staff was very friendly and were very willing to answer questions.  This is definitely a place to which I must return.       

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rootstock Wine and Beer Bar

I had nothing planned for the weekend but I didn't really want to do anything big and extravagant so I decided to go to a wine bar.  I had heard that Rootstock was a very good and low key wine bar that also had a pretty good beer list so I decided to try it out.  Located in a low traffic area on California Ave. south of Humboldt Park, it has a pretty low key storefront.  The sign is black and white and building wide but the building is pretty plain.  There is a door in the front but the entrance is actually through an alley in the back.  The dining area is long and narrow with a long bar opposite the entrance.  The room is rather dim with a lot of the light focused on the paintings on the wall which are done by local artists and are for sale.  The food menu is small but changes frequently.  It starts with bar snacks continues to larger plates and finishes a selection of 6 charcuteries and cheeses.  The charcuterie and cheese lists looked interesting so I decided to start there.  The charcuteries and cheeses were all available individually, you could get the entire list, or you could 3 of each which you could choose yourself.  I decided to go with the choice of three charcuteries and three cheeses (with bread).  I started with a housemade duck rillette which was served with jalapeno peppers.  The rillettes were a little more wet and coarsely ground than I would have expected but it did taste good and spread easily on the bread.  I didn't try the jalapenos because, while I do like spicy foods, I am not partial to peppers on their own.  The next charcuterie was a spicy salami from Smoking Goose Meatery out of Indianapolis called Delaware Fireball.  It was a pork salami cured with crushed chili, espelette pepper, and garlic and dry aged with caul fat.  It was very spicy and good and served with currants which helped to mellow the heat somewhat.  The last charcuterie was also from Smoking Goose and was called Dodge City.  It was cured with Fennel Pollen and Pink Peppercorns and had a quick anise flavor followed by a fatty pork flavor.  The mushrooms that were served with it brought an earthy flavor which went well with the dry sausage.  The first cheese was a semi-soft goat cheese which was smooth and creamy with a light goaty flavor and was served with fig jam.  It spread easily, went well with the fig jam and was the first piece to disappear.  The next cheese was Willi's Cheddar, an aged raw cow's milk cheese that had a strong cheddar flavor and salt crystals in the cheese.  It was served with pickled fennel which mellowed the intensity of the cheddar flavor.  The last cheese was a blue goat cheese which was served with an apple jam.  This actually had a mellow flavor and was a favorite.  If I could remember the brand, I would buy some for myself.
To continue the meal I decided that since I had already started with a lot of protein, I should go with some vegetables.  I wanted something more than a salad so I decided to go with Pickled Baby Carrots with Whipped Butter, Anchovies, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Curried Granola, Pickled Onions, Chevil, Tarragon, and Dill.  I really liked this.  It was tart, spicy, and very flavorful and the carrots despite being pickled had a good crunch.  After the carrots would normally come dessert.  As Rootstock does not offer dessert though, this is where the meal ended.  The food was fresh and flavorful, the beer list was very good, and the wait and bar staffs were very friendly.  Rootstock is a friendly and low key establishment with an eclectic and very fresh menu.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Radler

Most of the time, when people think of German food, they think of beer, sausages, and possibly sauerkraut.  Growing up in Michigan near the Bavarian village, Frankenmuth, I also found out about the fried chicken at Zehnder's.  In any case, what most people think of German cuisine is not something that you can really build a sit-down restaurant around especially if it is not surrounded by other German restaurants.  Logan Square, however, would be the exception to that rule.  Formerly  a neighborhood where you might go for Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban cuisine (plus Lula Cafe).  In the last few years, the area has been becoming a locale for international cuisine with Japanese (both sushi and otherwise), French, Barbecue, Burgers, a Brewpub, some very good Cocktail Lounges, and now German food with The Radler.  People that know the name Radler will think of the German beer cocktail that is half lemonade and half beer (equivalent to the English Shandy).  Radler literally means cyclist and the drink was first pitched as a sports drink.  While The Radler does serve Radlers, the name is also appropriate because the restaurant is located on the "Hipster Highway".  A road that has a large amount of bike traffic.  The front of the restaurant has large windows framed by black painted wood.  The dining room is large and open with several communal tables in the center of the room and smaller tables along the wall and near the kitchen in the back.  The kitchen is fairly open and will be home to D.A.S. a small German fine dining restaurant serving tasting menus with beer pairings.  There are several pillars in the dining room that have coat hooks so people can hang their coats.  The side walls are old bricks.  The wall behind the bar on the left side of the dining room has what looks like an old German beer ad.  The left wall has a couple of large paintings in sort of a graffiti style of wolves.  The menu was divided into Snacks, The Best (a selection of plates from small to large), The Wurst (housemade sausages), and sides.  I started with a salad (out of The Best section) which had Honey Crisp Apples, Caramel Roasted Granny Smith Apples, Brandied Raisins, Butter Lettuce, and Burnt Sugar and Hard Cider Vinaigrette.  I like apples and there were a lot of apples in this.  It was crunchy, crisp, tart, and sweet.  The Honey Crisp and Granny Smith Apples brought different apple flavors and went with the lettuce well.
For my snack, I had Confit Brussels Sprouts, Duck Fat, Candied Ginger, Gingersnaps, Butternut Squash, and Apple Cider Mayo.  The brussels sprouts were tender and crispy and had a roasted cabbage flavor.  The candied ginger and gingersnaps added a sweet and spicy flavor that brought out the flavor of the brussels sprouts and the mayo and squash were creamy and brought a slight tartness to the dish.  I like brussels sprouts but these were some of the best brussels sprouts that I have ever had.
For my Wurst, I got the Seared Boarwurst which was served with Carmelized Onions and Cocoa Nib Relish, Beet Puree, Golden Raisins, Spicy Housemade Mustard, and topped with Charred Frisee.  I had never had boarwurst, but as I gathered it was pork, I figured it couldn't be bad.  It was a like your typical German style sausage.  It was mild and was not as peppery as a brat but it was pretty good.  The onion and cocoa nib relish was tender and sweet.  The spicy mustard tasted as if it made with red wine  so it was sweet as well.  The sweetness of the beet puree tied everything together.
For my dessert, I went with a Pretzel Bread Pudding that was served with Roasted Apples and Fig Jam with Powdered Sugar.  This was actually kind of interesting.  The Bread Pudding was a bit more firm and while it was soft, it was firm enough that it was served as a couple of slices.  The roasted apples were sweet and juicy and the fig pudding was full of sliced figs.  The salty sweet of the bread pudding went well with both the apples and the fig jam and it was all very good.  The Radler was friendly and casual and seems to be pretty popular.  The food was very good and I will definitely be back.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fat 'n Happy - New Year's Dinner at Fat Rice

I was very happy when Fat Rice opened last year.  I had long complained that there were no Portuguese restaurants and while Fat Rice, which serves a Macanese menu, is not precisely Portuguese, because Macau was long a Portuguese colony and serves food with a lot of Portuguese flavors.  When I saw that they were serving a special 5 course menu for New Year's Eve, I jumped at the offer.  Because they were serving everyone the same menu, they staggered seating at the bar and various tables.  I made my reservation at a table but because I was dining by myself and there were open seats at the bar, they offered me a seat at the bar which, in my opinion, is a better seat because it looks into the bar and open kitchen.  I started things off with a cocktail they called The Green Fairy.  Normally, when someone refers to the Green Fairy, they are referring to Absinthe which has a decidedly black licorice flavor.  This was not absinthe and had no absinthe in it but it did have a green cast and a black licorice flavor.  It was made with Anise Hyssop Vodka, Pernod, and Cava and garnished with a lemon peel, so in addition to the anise flavor it also had a light sparkling quality to it.  It was bright and had a palate cleansing quality to it.  I happen to like black licorice, so for me, this was a nice start.

For the first food course, we were served what was called a Pu Pu Platter.  What it was was a selection of contrasting bites and flavors.  Working from left to right, it started with Jellyfish and Duck Breast.  The jellyfish actually reminded me of crisp pickles by texture and taste and linguini by shape and size.  The duck breast was thinly sliced and very tender.  The two contrasting flavors actually complemented each other well.  Next in line was Smoked Tofu and Peanut that I might have called Smoked Tofu and Mushrooms because it actually had more Shiitake Mushrooms than Peanuts.  These all went together well.  The tofu brought smoke, the mushrooms had the earthy, mushroomy flavor that you might expect of mushrooms, and while the peanuts did add some flavor, I would say that they were more important as a textural element.  The third part to me was like a simple salad.  It was a combination of Romaine Stem and Granny Smith Apples and that is exactly what it tasted like.  It was a simple combination of lettuce and apples that tasted green and had a tart finish.  The last element was the one about which I was most curious.  It was called Mala Beef Tendon.  I would normally expect beef tendons to be pretty tough but these were a surprise.  It appeared as if they were unrolled and flattened and served with a savory sauce.  They had a crunch to them but they were actually pretty easy to eat and tasty as well.

While I was working my way through the appetizer plate, I was served another cocktail (on the house).  This was a combination of Muscatel and Cava served with Star Anise and Orange Peel so it also was sparkling and had a black licorice flavor, although this was a bit sweeter than the Green Fairy.

The second food course was the XO Oyster.  It was an Old 1871 Oyster, an Atlantic oyster bred in the brackish water at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.  It was served with Black Beans and Cilantro and garnished with Romaine Lettuce leaves.  It was briny, and meaty with an earthy flavor and it was also very good.  It also set the stage for the next course, the Congee.
I had had Congee before and was pretty underwhelmed by it.  The congee I was served here though, was a different animal entirely.  At it's most basic, Congee is a rice porridge that is cooked to the point that the rice begins to disintegrate.  It is fairly rich but it can also be pretty bland unless something is added to it.  With this Congee, Lobster, Long Beans, Chinese Crullers, and Bacon were added.  It was rich, savory, hearty, and really good.  Most of the lobster meat was removed from the shells and the shell was added for flavor.  There was some meat round the leg joints witch was really tender.  The cruller was added to help absorb the moisture, the long beans added a vegetable crunch with flavor similar to green beans, and everything is better with bacon.

For the main course, we were served Red Braised Rabbit with Bok Choy, Turnips, Tofu Skin, and Sauce Superior, which is a combination of Reduced Chicken Stock and Jamon Iberico.  The rabbit was fall-off-the-bone tender and very flavorful and while it does have a lighter flavor, I would not say that it tastes like chicken although that also may have been due to the braising liquid.  The bok choy and turnips were fresh and flavorful and the tofu skin was interesting.  There were two of them and they were each rolled up and tied like parchment with a vegetable "string".  They were flavored with the Sauce Superior and had a nice chew.
The dessert, while it did have some Asian flavors, I would say was more French than Asian or Portuguese.  It was a Chocolate Pot de Creme with Orange, Persimmon, and Mint, and an Almondine Cookie.  A Pot de Creme is a loose custard served in a small custard dish.  I wouldn't have expected chocolate to go with orange but the persimmon, mint, and the almond cookie tied everything together.  I personally prefer my custards to be more "solid" than what a pot de creme is normally but the flavors and the flavor combinations made for a very good dish. and a good finish to the meal.  I again will say that I really like Fat Rice, they add a lot to the neighborhood, and the dinner was both a nice end to a great year in dining and the beginning of a great evening/New Year.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Graham Elliot

While Chef Graham Elliot (Bowles) is very well known and I had had food at his sandwich shop, Grahamwich (now closed), and at Lollapalooza, I had not been to his eponymous restaurant, graham elliot.  Starting with Charlie Trotter and then at Avenues, Graham Elliot became known for pushing the envelope with unusual flavor combinations and presentations.  He announced this year that he would be closing his eponymous restaurant to move to a smaller space and to reconcept.  As I had not been to this Michelin 2 Star restaurant, I decided I needed to get here before it closed.  While I had never been to the restaurant, I had been to the space.  It had been a nightclub before the restaurant, that I had been to several times and I could see the skeleton of the nightclub in the open space of the dining room.  The floor was hardwood and the walls and ceiling were black.  There was a large window that looked out onto the street and while there was some banquette seating which was white, most of the seating was with tables, also white, spread in groups throughout the room.  Because they were going to be closing soon, they reduced their menu to simply a single tasting menu.  Previous menus had had two tasting menus and an a la carte section.  That said, the menu was for a 15 course meal which was laid out similar to a periodic table of elements.  The course descriptions were also reduced simply to major ingredients so there was a bit of surprise and anticipation as to what actually would be coming out.  The first course, essentially an appetizer, was described simply as Popcorn.  What came out definitely did not look like popcorn.  What it was was Truffle Popcorn Gelato topped with a Chive and served with Cocoa Nibs.  The gelato was very smooth and had a strong truffle flavor with a roasted popcorn finish.  There were pieces of popcorn in the gelato to provide crunch.  This was not exceptionally sweet so the fact that it was paired with a chive and cocoa nibs (roasted and crushed cacao beans) made sense.  The cocoa nibs also added crunch.  Even though I am not a fan of popcorn, this was a good start.  It was whimsical and surprising and not too sweet.

While the first course was surprising, the next course pushed things even further.  It was called a Foielipop and the presentation was pretty cool.  It was a Birch Log with a Lollipop mounted in it.  The lollipop was actually a disc of Foie Gras rolled in Watermelon Pop Rocks.  You were instructed, to get the full effect, to eat the foielipop in one bite.  I like foie gras and I like Pop Rocks.  The combination was odd.  The foie gras was good.  It contributed the creamy and slightly minerally flavor that you would expect from duck liver.  The Pop Rocks brought the sweet watermelon flavor which I could see working in concert with foie gras without the Pop Rocks if it was a little less sweet.  The crackling though, kind of threw me.  I will not say that it was bad, but it was odd and it wasn't something that I might choose on it's own.
 The next course featured Prawns with Lime, Cilantro, and Avocado.  It was a complex dish if kind of a sparse looking plate.  The center of the plate had a prawn with fried kale and lime.  There was an Avocado Gelato with a Lime Puree at the front of the pate which was paired on the opposite side with a prawn mousse with kale.  On either side, was an avocado puree with a chip that brought to mind Guacamole.  While there was a lot of variety and combinations, they all played well together and were good pairings.

From the appetizers, the dinner progressed to salad, and while it didn't really look like a salad, that's what it was.  The course was described as Anchovy with Brioche, Romaine, and Parmesan.  These are key ingredients in a caesar salad and while it didn't really look like a caesar salad, it did taste like one.  The dish started with a Romaine Heart that was wrapped with an Anchovy.  This was paired with a smear of a romaine puree with brioche croutons, pepper, and Parmesan Cheese.  It was a very good course that captured what a good caesar salad is supposed to be.

The next course was actually a bit more straight forward and looked like what it was supposed to.  It was described as Kobe with Spinach, Bearnaise, and Potato.  It was a Beef Carpaccio with Bearnaise Sauce, Spinach Leaves, and Potato Chips.  It was a simple dish that did everything very well.  The carpaccio was tender and flavorful, the spinach and potatoes added some crunch, and the bearnaise added a buttery richness.
From salad, we went to the soup.  The prime ingredients in the soup course was Sunchoke with Ham, Sage, and Dill.  I had had a Sunchoke before and I knew that is was a vegetable of some type but I didn't know exactly what it was.  It turns out that it's the root of a certain type of sunflower and is related to an artichoke.  It has the texture of a potato but is slightly sour and looks like a ginger root.  A bowl was brought out containing a sunchoke a ham marshmallow with Fried Sage and Dill.  To this was added a Sunchoke Puree, it was all very flavorful.  It was like a sourish potato with a light ham flavor from the marshmallow that dissolved when the liquid hit it.  The thyme and dill added flavor and a little crunch.
 After the appetizer, salad, and soup, came a palate cleanser before the entrees.  It was a Pumpkin Sorbet flavored with Cloves, with Pumpkin Brittle, and a Kale Chip.  It was simple, flavorful, and cleansed the palate as it was supposed to. 
 Before I went to the restaurant, a friend told me that I had to try the sweetbreads.  As I was having a Chef's  Menu (and there was no a la carte menu), I had no choice in the matter.  Sweetbreads, however, were the first of the entrees.  The menu describes the course as Sweetbreads with Cranberry, Salsify, and Chestnut.  The Sweetbreads were tempuraed and served with Salsify, Crushed and Roasted Chestnuts, Cranberries, Baby Greens, and a Fish Sauce.  The tempura was light and crisp over some very tender sweetbreads.  The the salsify added some crispness, the fish sauce was savory, and the cranberry added a tart finish.

The normal progression in entrees is offal, fish, fowl, pork, and beef and while the next course did follow that progression, it was a bit surprising because it was a twist on something that you might expect for breakfast, lox and bagels.  The menu described the course as Salmon with Caper, Onion, and Bagel.  It was a piece of Smoked Salmon topped with Tomato Jam, a little Cream Cheese, and an Everything Bagel Chip.  It was surrounded with Capers, Onion Jam, and Dill.  While it didn't look like what you would expect of Lox and Bagels, that's what it tasted like and it was very good.
The progression did get twisted a little with pork being served before the fowl.  It was listed as Pork, Pumpernickel, Mustard, and Brussels.  This dish was again a little odd.  The braised pork shoulder (which was under the foam) was very tender and flavorful.  It was topped with a bitter Pumpernickel Foam with sauteed Trumpet Mushrooms, Mustard, and Baby Greens.  This was also very good but unless the baby greens were brussels, I don't know where they were.  The mushrooms were cooked perfectly, the greens added a bit of a vegetal flavor, and the mustard added a nice sour and spicy flavor.
While the next course was listed as Hen with Thyme and Celery, it just as well could have been listed as Rice with Mushrooms and Celery.  The dish was a risotto with a lot of mushrooms made with a guinea hen stock and a small amount of guinea hen.  It was topped with Celery Root and Baby Thyme.  Whatever it was called, it was very good.  The rice was perfectly cooked and stock and mushrooms added a lot of good flavor.
The final entree was technically not beef but like beef, it has a flavor strong enough that it makes the best sense to finish entrees.  It was listed as Venison with Huckleberry, Yogurt, and Wheatberry.  It was a Venison Loin with Bulgur Wheat, Raw Turnip Slices, Cooked Turnip with Huckleberry Sauce, Microgreens, and a Yogurt Sauce.  It was like eating the deer and what it ate and it was very good in every combination.
 After entrees comes Cheese which was served with Vanilla, Pecan, and Quince.  The cheese was a light cheese that was Bruleed like a custard.  The Apples and Quince were cooked together with the vanilla and served with an almond crumble.  It was creative and tasted very good as well.
 For the first dessert, Apple was repeated.  It was the featured ingredient with Coffee, Caraway, and Cider.  It was presented as an Apple Sorbet, and Apple Chip, Pickled Apples, a Cider Gelee, Caraway Foam, and a Coffee "Custard".  It was neat to have apple in many different presentations and it was very good.  Different elements were crisp, sweet, and sour and the coffee and cream added a bitter creaminess.

The dinner finished with Chocolate which was presented with Malt, Parsnips, and Sorrel and an Olive Oil Sauce.  The chocolate was presented in many formats.  The malt was an obvious flavor combination with the chocolate but the parsnip was a surprise and the olive oil added some depth of flavor.  The chocolate was presented as gelato and dark and white solid chocolate.  It was a very good finish to a very good dinner.  I was very glad that I was able to go to Graham Elliot before it closed and I am excited to see what the new restaurant will be like.