Chi-town

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
sinosoul
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STRIKE that Avec rec. Koren G just departed. I'm no chef fucker, but that woman was ALWAYS in the kitchen, and the place is almost unimaginable w/o her, kinda like O.Mozza without Silverton standing at the cheese bar.
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uhockey
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Saw the avec news on eater. I'm sure Kahan will have no difficulty filling her shoes with someone equally talented - but it will obviously take time. Would likely default to Publican based on that change - or PQM at the very least.
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Dapuma
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L20 menu looks appealing, as it seems seafood focused - the tasting menus all have a souffle for dessert...not sure if they can swap that out, we are not really big souffle people, we had the Grand Mariner souflee at Chez Dumonet in Paris so it isnt as if we have not had a great souffle, just not our thing

so probably between publican, girl and goat, and l2o

Does that jamacian place do anything magical with their Oxtail or stick with the chicken only...love oxtail

For our group none of us are big wine drinkers (which kind of put avec on the bottom regardless), however we like beer, sake, and cocktails - either one of above 3 have any standouts in there?

2 sparrows has duck confit hash...that could be unresistable
southport grocery bread pudding pancakes sounds good and brisket and gravy, i have to stop reading menu's after the gym this is torture
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uhockey
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The Souffle at L2o (http://endoedibles.com/?p=163) is the best I've ever had. I like Souffles in general, but that one wows. Bonjwing (ulteriorepicure) also rates it quite highly. It is quite different from the one at Dumonet if you look at my blog.

Publican (http://endoedibles.com/?p=2793) is very very good, as is GatG (http://endoedibles.com/?p=281,) but they aren't the same kind of restaurant as L2o (Ultra Fine dining - 3* Michelin under Gras.) My sister is a beer drinker - stouts - and LOVES Publican's list. She also quite likes Nightwood.

2 Sparrows (http://endoedibles.com/?p=2670) is the best breakfast I've ever had. When Foie Gras Pop-Tarts are the 'worst' part of a meal, that says something. The Southport Bread Pudding (they sell the mix to make it at home there, as well,) is really tasty - but there are BETTER things on the menu (http://endoedibles.com/?p=273)
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Dapuma
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Aviary confirmed reservations :D

quite excited...now to narrow down the dinner option before...
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Skillet Doux
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FYI, Mike Gebert, who was one of the LTH founders and is now editor of Grub Street Chicago, went to a menu preview for the new team at Bonsoiree and seems to be suitably impressed:

First Look at the New Bonsoiree and Beverly Kim's Refined Asian Tasting Menu
Dominic Armato
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Dapuma
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Well I had decided finally on Girl and Goat, however I foolishly didnt book it to hold the place, so it was booked up

However Blackbird was not, so that makes it easy

Place looks hip and modern

Tasting Menu or ala carte?
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uhockey
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Tough call re: Blackbird. I've heard/seen the tasting is great, but the ALC we had was excellent as well. I've been told they've really stepped up desserts. I'd probably wait and see the nightly offering and decide then. If you can, I recommend requesting seating towards the front (away from Kitchen) as the back half kinda balloons and is really echo-y from the kitchen noise.

If you are into coffee there is a La Colombe outpost straight down the street that is quite excellent.
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Skillet Doux
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Since I know some folks are planning upcoming Chicago trips, Alinea just released its ticket on-sale dates for the next few months:
Alinea Website wrote:Tickets for the months of September and October will be released for sale on Saturday, August 25.
Please note that Alinea will be closed the week of October 10 - 14 for a private event.

November will become available Wednesday, September 12
December will become available Wednesday, October 10
January will become available Wednesday, November 7

Please note that we will also make tables available via our Facebook page from time to time, including Same Night and Same Week tables. Please follow us on Facebook or Twitter for details. This allows visitors to Chicago and last minute planners an opportunity to dine with us on short notice, while allowing Alinea to maintain some flexibility in planning.
Dominic Armato
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uhockey
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Judging from the teaser posted today I'm gathering the "private event" is the EMP swap.
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Dapuma
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tickets are almost gone and they have been out for 3 hours

tables of 6 are about all that is left for bad slots, pretty amazing to sell seats that fast

decided not to even try for this trip, plenty of other stuff to do
sinosoul
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Dapuma wrote:Does that jamacian place do anything magical with their Oxtail or stick with the chicken only...love oxtail
Yes, Trop Island does a solid oxtail. But their curry goat is also all kinds of funk.
For our group none of us are big wine drinkers (which kind of put avec on the bottom regardless), however we like beer, sake, and cocktails - either one of above 3 have any standouts in there?
Out of the 3, Publican has the biggest and best curated beer taps. G&G doens't even come close.
Dapuma wrote:Well I had decided finally on Girl and Goat, however I foolishly didnt book it to hold the place, so it was booked up
Like I mentioned, the bar area has a number of seats, and they open at 4:30 , which makes it absolutely accessible for "happy hour", especially on a weekday. You can pre-game before Blackbird at G&G, then walk 5 minutes over.

Funny enough, I don't see Hot Chocolate mentioned here at all. Mindy Segal is one of my fave pastry chefs, and finally won her deserved Beard this year. If you do decide on ala carte at Blackbird, I'd totally skip dessert at BB and cab it out to Hot Chocolate for a chocolaty nightcap. Hot Chocolate is my go-to panty dropper in Chicago. Has been effective on a multitude of Chicagoan women and bears alike.
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uhockey
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.....I imagine Hot Chocolate does well with the ladies, but to be fair the pastry that won her the JBA award is not what she is doing since she went "rustic."

The space is annoying as hell, as well.
sinosoul
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Not sure on what basis the suggestion for dessert at Hot Chocolate is being contradicted. The hit desserts of milk shakes, hot chocolate, chocolate cakes, etc., have remained throughout the years. Granted, the pricier dessert "tasting" is new(er), but it's not a must.

After the JBF win, 2 of the classics were brought back. The desserts have always played on comfort foods that are accessible to all. Are cookies not the perfect denotation of "rustic"? And let's just bracket out the JBF since we all know award chasing is blase. The desserts have always stood on their own.
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uhockey
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I've been. It was okay. If I wanted to blow someone's mind for dessert in Chicago I'd direct them to Tru. I also really enjoyed the desserts at Blackbird and that Waffle at Publican deserves a spot in the Chicago food hall of fame.

Chicago does some awesome rustic desserts - donuts especially - I think it is the best city for fried dough in the US.
sinosoul
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Skillet Doux wrote:FYI, Mike Gebert, who was one of the LTH founders and is now editor of Grub Street Chicago, went to a menu preview for the new team at Bonsoiree and seems to be suitably impressed:
Just read this Trib piece on Kim vs. Trotter and sufficed, I will never visit Bonsoiree 2.0, nor JAM Restaurant, especially because Mauro still owns subsidized housing in University Village which his dad, a city official, sold him.
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Dapuma
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Chi Town Trip Report

Started off for an afternoon beer once we got into town at The Matchbox, skinny little bar (like a match) with a patio and about 12 seats on the bar, great liquor selection with 3 beers on draft, had Allagash White Ale, was pretty good - they are thumping rock and roll / heavy metal there and it looked like if you wanted to bring food in from next door that was okay. Seemed like an interesting place, the bartender and owner were firing down tequilla shots like water, we just stayed for a drink and left

For dinner we went to Blackbird and when ala carte, we each did a main course entree, and 3 apps for the table

For the apps we went with:

Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with wax beans, cherries, hazelnut, and truffle - These were the highlight of the apps, they were excellent everyone agreed across the board. I do not like truffle oil but apparently I do like truffle shavings, as the wax beans were sprinkled with the real deal, all of the flavors worked together well

Black Cod pil pil with heirloom tomatoes watermelon and sunflower, i believe there was some pisatchio on the plate as well - Like everything here this was very good but not blow me away, the flavors all worked but it wasn't the most amazing thing I ever ate

Roasted Pork Belly with Uni red beets tamarind turmeric and okra - this one failed for pretty much everyone, no one was fighting over who got the last piece of this, that Pork Belly was overcooked due to it being sliced a little to thick, the flavors were not bad but not amazing, this was the only thing we did not really enjoy at the table

For my main courses we shared so everyone got to try everything else

I went with the: wood-grilled sturgeon with shiitakes, onion noodles,
plums, and buttermilk because someone on LTH said that they did the Sweetbreads and Sturgeon very well, and everything sounded good on the plate - I really liked the dish, it was onion heavy but in a good way, but not a first date dish :mrgreen: It was good and very substantial, quality across the board

The Mrs got aged duck breast with grilled white asparagus, sourdough,
sea beans, and herbs - hers had a mousse of foie gras though, it was very good - everyone liked it at the table, i am not a huge fan of foie gras mousses so i could have done without that mousse but everyone else enjoyed it

The other people with us got the roasted rabbit saddle and confit leg with barley risotto, broccoli,
egg yolk, and yuzu - and the risotto was simply awesome with some crispy broccoli bits that seemed almost flash fried - the rabbit was quite good as well, first time having rabbit

Last item was the roasted halibut with green farro, kohlrabi, mustard,
and cucumber-miso juice which was my least favorite of all 3, i had a bite, it was good but not as strong as the other dishes

For dessert we had the deep fried butterscotch pudding (breaded squares of pudding) that came with corn ice cream with a powdered masa topping, it was strange and delicious, that textures and flavors were very unusual, we also got another dessert which i had only one bite of, it was a bit too tart for me - every dessert was some variation of ice cream which was a bit disappointing, but the corn one made up for it

The cocktails here were good, our favorite was a cucumber gin egg white dry vermouth combo, although i took some grief for the huge garnish of a cucumber and the drinking being sea green - after trying it the Mrs ordered one herself, they do have a sake selection which was great because she loves sake as well - so overall it was about 100-110 a person including drinks and tip and we got to try a lot of stuff, Everything was very good (with the exception of the pork belly), however I don't think any one item was WOW this is the best thing I ever had

The Aviary was up next, it is in a packing / factory like area and then all of a sudden NEXT / The Aviary are there - we arrived about 20 minutes prior to our reservation and they had the table waiting for us already, we were in shortly.

Walking in they give everyone a drink as an amuse bouche, which was a tasty slushyish item with pisco and grand marniner - great way to start out, because everyone wants something to drink as soon as they get in the door

They did a really good job of decorating the place and the service was very good (Ethan was our server) - I had to get the tiki drink which consisted of a mai tai, zombie, and Knickerbocker all in little tiki glasses (from tiki farm) in a little wooden fence box full of sand and shells - nice presentation, and the Mai Tai was very good, that one went down fast, the Zombie tasted a bit off, i think too pineappley for me, but not bad, and the knickerbocker was a frozen slushy type drink, was quite tasty

Round 2 I went with a Scotch and Smoke type of drink and something type of drink, it was pretty good for scotch, as I normally like manhatten's but not scotch, was plum like, came in a bag with lavender mist

They also had a hot red tea drink, that had gin and botanicals and came with a very cool presentation, very similar to how cph upstairs makes their "gin" out of vodka, was quite similar in presentation style, so I know where they got the idea from - however the taste was excellent, warm gin and tea spiced drink - the Mrs loved it

The egg drink, was an old fashion that was broken with a small took, and then out of the egg poured the drink, and then the egg shell became the drink - excellent old fashion with EJ 12 year

Other friend got a 3 course flight which came with a few different drinks that i kind of remember trying, he chose that one because the dessert drink was a corn drink, which was good but it was like drinking corn - very interesting flavors

We got one other drink that I forget that no one liked, it was too sweet - they do not have a menu online so it is hard to remember that one, it had a Puka Puka Punch glass type shell on the outside to keep it cold, so that was pretty neat, i would have been happier with a Puka Puka :)

We tried a good amount of the drinks on the a la carte menu and were pretty happy with most of them

Overall between Blackbird and The Aviary if we had to pick between the two, we would probably be more inclined to do the 7 or 10 course cocktail pairing, which would be a lot of fun with small bites of food - seems like they change the menu once per quarter so perhaps a quarterly excursion to The Aviary may be in order

Will update more when i have some time
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Skillet Doux
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Ah, that's too bad Blackbird wasn't mind-altering. Which is a high standard, but still, dare to dream :-)

Anxious to hear about the rest of the trip. And I hope you guys didn't end up at TAC for Thai, since news just broke TODAY that Andy (chief kitchen dude) has left and is opening his own spot.
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Dapuma
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Friday: The rest of the evening we went to the Dublin for drinks and late supper, ate some great shrimp /mushroom / beef stew, was pretty awesome and some beers along with a couple other random stops

Saturday we went to Zed456 and Mastro's because we knew people there and had a great time - nothing to exciting to report other than having a good time (a 9 point waygu ny strip yum) and we went to a whisky bar across the street from Violet Hour, it had a huge Star on it, I cannot remember the name, which was was very busy, hung out at the bar for a bit

Sunday we went to a Vietnamese place (ill update later when i figure out what it was called) which had some good apps but the pho was just ok, however at the Vietnamese bakery two doors down everything was 90 cents and awesome...so if in that area go do some damage with $20 bucks, everything is super cheap, fresh, and delicious - the custard sweet buns were excellent (kind of like a hawaiian king roll with custard on the inside but as big as a kaiser roll @ 90 cents :)

Did not make it to Hot Doug's or any Thai place - the weekend flew by and there was no time

Plenty of places to check out next time

And yes Blackbird was very good across the board, but nothing said, OMG i cannot wait to eat here again - and at the same time everyone was very happy with what they got
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uhockey
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"Big Star" - who'd've-thunk it? :-) Also owned by Kahan.