Posts Tagged 'Paul Kahan'

Lunch at Blackbird, Chicago

When filling in the schedule for my short trip to Chicago with Rocky last week, I needed a good lunch spot, and I wanted to return to Blackbird. Since Paul Kahan’s flagship is among the few restaurants in the city on my list that offer lunch service, it only made sense.

blackbird chicago paul goerg blanc de blanc champagne

Though I didn’t think it would happen, I had inquired about the possibility of us being served a chef’s tasting for lunch. On arrival we were told that the kitchen would happily split and course out anything from the day’s menu for an extended lunch. Perfect. While we were looking over the menu, it seemed prudent to get started with a bottle of bubbles. So we ordered the Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs. Lively elegance, bright bubbles, and flavors of apple and citrus. A fantastic lunchtime Champagne. Rocky and I made a few choices from the menu, asked for a few suggestions as well, and got a nice little meal lined up.

blackbird chicago asparagus

Green and white asparagus with charred spring onion, goat cheese, cured egg yolk, peanuts, and chamomile. The plate of grilled spears of green with blanched white asparagus and beautiful early onions was a nice celebration of spring. The rich yolk and tangy goat cheese played well as condiments.

blackbird chicago smoked arctic char

Smoked arctic char with ‘nduja, cauliflower, pear, and rosemary. A pretty piece of smoked fish. I loved the cauliflower, served both pickled and fried. The sliced pear was nice for some fresh sweetness. The spice of the ‘nduja pate was nice to enhance the arctic char.

blackbird chicago duck liver sausage

Duck liver sausage with honeyed eggplant, pickled delicata squash, peanut, and dandelion greens. The sausage had a nice smooth taste. The setting was extremely dynamic: the sweetness of the eggplant, the acid from the squash, and the super bitter dandelion greens somehow managed to stay in balance.

blackbird chicago lamb tenderloin tartare

Lamb tenderloin tartare with sprouted lentils, cured rhubarb, spicy marrow, and chickweed. The melted chili bone marrow tied together the sweet rhubarb with the strips of lamb. I love eating most anything that is just sprouted. These lentils, some of which were fried, were very special little legumes.

blackbird chicago cauliflower soup

blackbird chicago cauliflower soup

Cauliflower soup with seared tuna, pickled shallots, and toasted pepitas. A great cauliflower soup. The spiced toasted seeds were a lot of fun texturally. The bites of acidic allium were nice surprises amid the richness. The tuna, for me, had no place in the bowl. And some beautiful wild sorrel got drowned in the soup.

blackbird chicago maitake mushrooms

blackbird chicago roasted maitake salsify

Roasted maitake mushrooms with salsify, meyer lemon, and sweet potato. A savory, meaty, wonderfully prepared portion of maitake mushroom over a smooth puree of salsify with red wine mushroom sauce. Sweet potato two ways: batons and chips. With crisp sliced heart of palm.

blackbird chicago goat cheesecake

Goat cheese cheesecake with cajeta ice cream, burnt grapefruit, avocado. Bonus points for Pastry Chef Dana Cree. A nice variety of sensations here. Delicious, lightly tangy cheesecake. A little char from the burnt citrus and toasted meringue. Little pieces of candied grapefruit rind were bangingly sweet and bitter. And the avocado was super cool.

blackbird chicago bittersweet chocolate

blackbird chicago chocolate torte

Bittersweet chocolate torte with burnt honey ice cream, tangerine marmalade, toasted sesame, cumin. A decadent serving of chocolate. Fantastic combined with the citrus. Non-coincidentally, a very similar flavor palette to a dessert we had two days prior at Blackbird’s neighbor and relative, Avec.

Overall, a great lunch in a beautiful space. With a beautiful lady.

blackbird chicago bread serviceblackbird chicago oolong tea serviceblackbird chicago monthelie burgundy meursault

Also: Bread service. A kick ass oolong tea. And a pinot noir from Meursault.

Date of visit: April 1o, 2013

Blackbird. 619 W Randolph. Chicago, IL  312.715.0708  blackbirdrestaurant.com

Avec, Chicago

Last week, Rocky and I flew to Chicago for a few days to have a few meals and do a little boozing. Since I met Rocky I had been telling her of my admiration for Paul Kahan, his restaurants, and the creativity of his team. After a sleepy flight into the Windy City from LGA, we checked in to our hotel, enjoyed the amazingly sunny day for a bit, then made our way over to Avec for an early dinner.

At almost a decade old, the dining room is still as hip and relevant as the coolest spots on either coast. Communal tables along the west wall. To the east, counter seating facing the kitchen. The space surrounded by cedar, oak, steel, and glass.

avec chiacag napkin

We took a couple seats at the stainless steel bar, started with some bubbles, looked briefly at the menu, and dinner was underway.

avec chicago english pea ricotta crostini

English pea-ricotta crostini with mint, watercress, lemon vinegar and bottarga di muggine. Our first peas of the season..Hooray! The peas and ricotta were pureed and spread on toasted garlic bread. Fresh flavored and lightly bitter with clean, sharp acid from the onions dressed with the lemon vinegar and salinity from the sliced bottarga.

avec chicago chorizo stuffed medjool dates

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. Full mouth flavor. Not too spicy. Super rich with balanced sweetness. Served with beautifully light and crusty bread.

avec chicago chicken thigh

Marinated chicken thigh with brussels sprouts, ginger-currants, potatoes, sumac and cilantro. Rocky said ‘This chicken is super awesome!’ and I agree. Juicy and meaty with crisp delicious skin. The brussels sprout salad was tossed in a strong acid and carried some pretty decent heat.

avec chicago squid amatriciana

Wood-fired squid amatriciana: san marzano tomatoes, guanciale and fideo with fennel aioli. This was bad ass. Tender squid over thin, short fideo pasta amatriciana baked and barely crusty. The fennel aioli was fun for a slight cooling against the spice, but I preferred it without.

avec chicago lamb bolognese

Lamb bolognese with hand-cut tajarin, swiss chard, mint and pecorino romano. I prefer tajarin to be sheeted a little thicker for a more dense bite, but the broad thin noodle did well with the oily lamb sauce. The swiss chard tossed in was fantastic.

avec chicago affogato

avec chicago affogato

Affogato with pistachio zaletti. Just as it should be, with a nice buttery texture. The zaletti were incredible.

avec chicago chocolate tangering sorbet

Chocolate & tangerine sorbet. Chocalte sorbet, almost chewy in texture, accented with light tangerine.

avec chicago semifreddo

avec chicago burnt honey semifreddo

Burnt honey semifreddo with orange carmel and cumin sesame. Inside a chocolate dome. From Rocky: ‘Oh boy…this semifreddo is where it’s at’. A little salt was nice with the richness. The orange, cumin, and sesame were all apparent, but none were overbearing. A tasty dessert.

avec chicago nutter butters

Nutter butters. These little guys were effing awesome. A crunchy, buttery, striated base studded with cocoa nibs with a caramelly top.

avec chicago chocolate crisps

Housemade chocolate crisps. Milk and dark chocolate tempered and sheeted with feuilletine. Simple enough. Nothing not to like here.

The food at Avec is delicious. Full-flavored, accessible, and exciting. A week later, Rocky and I are both still craving more.

Date of visit: April 8, 2013

Avec. 615 W Randolph. Chicago, IL  312.377.2002  avecrestaurant.com/