Friday, June 15, 2012

Avec in Chicago

James Beard Foundation Award winner Paul Kahan has many restaurants in Chicago and they are all respected for creative, fresh, delicious dishes. We went to Avec, whose Chef is Koren Grieveson, and had an exceptional dinner.
The space is all wood and modern. The back wall is green glass and it's either bar seating or along the right wall banquette seating. As many restaurants in Chicago, they do not take reservations so be prepared to wait a bit.

Charred monterey sardines with meyer lemon, red endive, nichols fingerlings, dandelion greens and smashed peas. Beautiful combination of flavors and textures. The sardines tasted like the ocean, without the fishiness.
Marinated white anchovies on charred flatbread with cucumber, cilantro and mustard oil. Zesty and vibrant this is a dish I would love to recreate at home.
Wood-fired squid with san marzano tomatoes, guanciale, fideo and fennel aiol. This was my favorite dish of the night (yes, even more than the pork shoulder). The squid was ultra fresh and flavorful and married with those rich tomatoes and all those wonderful Italian flavors, it was fantastically delicious. It smelled so good the people next to us asked what we were eating and ordered it too!
Wood-oven roasted pork shoulder with watercress, wild rice and green tomato chow chow. Mmmmm...pork shoulder. Super moist and tender. Once again, tons of flavor. Fresh, real ingredients treated with respect are truly the most important thing a restaurant should focus on.
615 W Randolph
Chicago, IL 60661
sun-thu 3:30p-12:00a
fri, sat 3:30p-1:00a
sun-thu 3:30p-1:00a
fri, sat 3:30p-2:00a

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Purple Pig - Cheese, Swine, & Wine

Here piggy piggy...

The fact is that this Chicago restaurant has become quite the tourist destination, BUT you should go anyhow. They have amazing piggy dishes, an impressive wine list, and a great atmosphere.
First of all, get a load of that bowl. Definitely going on the Christmas wish list! Inside said dish are fried pig ears, pickled cherry peppers, fried kale, and a fried egg on top. Deeelish!
 Mortadella smear on toast with arugula and crumbled pistachios with a balsamic glaze.
And for some real piggy pig, the pork jowl served on toast with asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and a duck egg sunny side up! Holy rich dish! Wow.

500 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
312-464-1-PIG (744)
Sunday - Thursday 11:30 a.m to Midnight (Kitchen open 'til midnight)
Friday & Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. (Kitchen open 'til 1 a.m.)

Sable in Chicago

Under falling rain drops, we hurried into Sable located in a Kimpton Hotel in Chicago. I was surprised (and delighted) to find my friends inside, who were 'supposed' to be out of town. They had begged the kitchen to stay open late and we were able to order lots of delicious eats. It seems like every restaurant we went to in Chicago has now adopted the concept of dining around shared plates - no more 3 course meals, it's all family style...
Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds with spicy ketchup glaze. Does this really need a description? YUM.
Sweet corn creme brulee. It's as delicious as it sounds. Your mind gets very confused thinking creme brulee and then the little bits of corn and salt blend with the custard in your mouth and it is a beautiful thing indeed. Fantastic idea!
Sable has an extensive cocktail menu and mixologists behind the bar concocting inventive libations. This one is War of the Roses - Pimm’s, Bombay Sapphire, Chase Elderflower, mint, fresh lime. Oh so delightful and served in those fun cocktail glasses from yesteryear.
Seen above are mini wild mushroom veggie burgers with red onion jam and goat cheese and in the black pot, veal meatballs with gorgonzola-walnut cream sauce. I never knew a veggie burger could be so amazing. The amount of mushroom flavor packed in there was fantastic and with the tangy goat cheese and sweet onion jam - wow. And oh those little veal meatballs...sigh. I wish they could appear in front of me right now...
Duck confit with blue cheese, roasted garlic, bourbon cherries, arugula. Very creative flavor combinations which all paired beautifully with the rich duck.
I do believe this cocktail was called Lord of Dreams - Banks Rum, yellow Chartreuse, Luxardo Maraschino, fresh lemon.
This is a very gooey dark chocolate souffle cake which seemed to need a bit more time in the oven, but who cares as chocolate is awesome.
One of my friend's favorite beers - fresh and hoppy goodness.

The Chef at Sable is Chef Heather Terhune and was a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Texas show. But no matter that she was on a TV show because her food is delicious and you should get over there and eat it.

505 North State Street, Chicago, IL
Tel. 312-755-9704