Saturday, March 4, 2017

Seven Lions - Restaurant Week

The last restaurant that I went to for Chicago restaurant week that was not a place where I have previously gone was the second restaurant in Master Sommelier Alpana Singh's growing restaurant empire.  Located on Michigan Avenue, across from the Art Institute, Seven Lions is a modern take on a classic supper club.  Done in shades of brown and using a lot of stone and leather, the space is large with banquettes on two walls as well as large semi-circular booths with a classic design.  There are also a few high tops close to the large rectangular bar located in the center of the dining room.  The dining room was only half full when I was there, but with the high ceilings and construction of the room, I have to imagine that it would be pretty loud if the room was full despite the fact that there is space between diners and they are not sitting right next to one another.  The floor is hardwood and the lighting is electric chandeliers.  There was also a mural on the wall closest to us of a classic and crowded city scene.  With lots of people, a bicycle, drawbridges, and a lot of buildings.  We were seated in a large booth with leather seats that could have easily seated six.  There was a wine pairing available for our dinner and, as Alpana Singh is a Master Sommelier, I am sure that it was fantastic, but I was not in the mood for wine on that evening, so I went with a cocktail.  Called the Cool Hand Luke, it contained Tito's Handmade Vodka, Cucumber, Lime Juice, and though it was not listed, soda I am sure because it had some fizz to it.  On paper, this sounded better than it turned out to be, Tito's is very smooth and Cucumber and Lime both go well with vodka, they just didn't meld especially well.  It wasn't terrible and I did drink it, it just wasn't my favorite drink.
I started my meal off with a Roasted Brussels Sprout and Squash Panzanella Salad.  When I think of Panzanella, I think of Bread, Tomatoes, and a Vinaigrette.  While this did have bread, it was unlike any panzanella that I have ever had.  It was very good, but it was different.  The main ingredients were Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Golden Squash with Bread, Glacier Gorgonzola, and a Sage Dressing.  It was crisp, fresh, and had a lot of flavor, with the gorgonzola providing a nice blue cheese start and the sage a nice herbal finish.
My entree was a spin on the classic pot roast.  It wasn't actually Pot Roast, it was Braised Short Rib, but it was presented similarly to how pot roast is presented.  It was served with White Bean Puree, which took the place of Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Tokyo Turnips, and Sassafras Jus.  The short rib was fork tender, juicy, and very flavorful.  The white bean puree, while it looked like mashed potatoes, had more of a savory flavor, and the sassafras jus added a flavor similar to root beer, which actually worked very well.
For my second cocktail, I went with something, that to me, sounded like a spin on a Moscow Mule (Vodka, Lime, and Ginger Beer).  Called Mr. Pink, it had CH Distillery Peppercorn Vodka, Ginger Beer, Strawberry Puree, Peach Bitters, and a Lemon garnish.  I took my first sip of this and my head exploded.  There was a lot going on and it was very good.  The peppercorn vodka gave it a strong peppercorn flavor, with the strawberry providing tartness, the ginger beer adding spice and the peach bitter adding a bitter peach flavor.  If I were to see this again, I would definitely order it again.
For dessert, we finished with a classic, Chocolate Espresso Tart served with Salted Caramel, Strawberris, Black Raspberries, and Whipped Cream.  It was bitter sweet and chocolatey with an undertone of strong coffee.  The whipped cream added some lightness and cut some of the bitter and the strawberry and blackberry added some fruit tartness.  It was a good finish to a classic style meal.  I enjoyed my meal here and the space is very nice.  The food, while not exceptionally groundbreaking, does taste pretty good and it is a good place for those who might be a little timid.     


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