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Adventures in Eating – Chef’s Week

R&R Smash

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” 

- Virginia Woolf

One of my favorite things about Chicago is the food. I joke with friends that I’ve been eating my way through the city since I’ve moved here, but that’s not far from the truth. Chicago is a city where you can throw a rock in any direction and hit a handful of good restaurants. Of course, everyone knows about the deep dish pizza. But there’s far more than that to be found here. And special events like Chef’s Week - when many restaurants have a special prix fixe menu at much lower cost – make exploring new places easy and affordable.

Recently, a good friend of mine got the foodie bug. He dove into the restaurant scene with gusto. And I’ve benefited from his newfound obsession. We started a supper club of sorts, meeting at least once a month to have an interesting meal together. So far we’ve eaten at Schwa, The Purple Pig, Sun Wah, Longman & Eagle, Hopleaf, iNG, and most recently Sepia.

I’d like to share my experience with you. Walking into Sepia, right away the ambiance of the restaurant put me into a good mood. There was soft lighting, with beautiful, rustic wood accents against otherwise fully modern decor. There were also interesting photographs hung around the space depicting people seemingly from the 1920s. It was an almost surreal meeting of past and present, but was really made the evening memorable were the drinks and food. (And of course the company!)

Before our meal, my friends and I ordered cocktails. There was a vast menu with drinks of all varieties. I settled on the “R&R Smash” which was templeton rye, carpano antica vermouth, cherry heering, brandied cherries, rosemary, lemon, and old fashioned bitters. It was sweet, but not too much so, with a very nice herb flavor.

Next we started our meal, since it was Chef’s week, we were given a choice of first and second course, with a fixed dessert. For my first course, I choose the boudin blanc, braised red cabbage, and coffee mustard. Admittedly, I had no idea what boudin blanc was, but after a quick google, I learned it is a white sausage. And it was tasty. The coffee mustard was a favorite of the night for me. It blended the two flavors well, with a distinctly coffee flavor coming through without losing the mustard-ness of the condiment. The cabbage was very good too.

For the main course, my friends and I all chose the skirt steak. The dish was made up of red chile skirt steak, black bean cake, spinach, and red chimichurri. It was phenomenal. We all ordered it medium rare and when it arrived it was cooked perfectly. It was tender and flavorful, the sauce and black bean cake complimenting the meat nicely. This was the clear winner of the evening and we all agreed that the only disappointment was that we couldn’t have seconds.

For dessert, they served a buttercrunch cake with caramel cream, raspberry coulis, and chocolate sauce. This was good, but a little too sweet for me. I’m still getting used to capturing shots for those playing along at home and I forgot to get a picture.

This was a great meal with great friends. There’s nothing like sharing a few hours of stories and laughs over food with those close to you! This was one of those evenings that made me sit back and take a moment to be thankful for the incredible blessings in my life.

How about you – what was been your last great meal? What made it so good?

Have a wonderful, abundant week all!

  • I have to say Chicago does have some amazing places to eat and I am jealous of you for getting to go to any of them on any given day. That meal looks amazing and you are truly adventurous to order something that you have to Google first, but it paid off! Thanks for sharing!

    The Mr

    March 26, 2012

  • Well put, Michiel. With every project, there will be some thngis that you don’t know exactly how to do. Embrace those challenges and lean as you go. But if they ask for something WAY out of your knowledge base, either have someone to call on for freelance that CAN do it, or say no. This is a time when having some great connections can find you the person that can help work on a job with you and then everybody is happy.

    Rish

    May 6, 2012

  • Oh and I forgot to answer… My last great meal was in Chicago on New Year’s Eve actually. We did get a great breakfast with you as well that day but dinner with the Mrs at 676 was amazing and one that we are still so glad we got a chance to have on an amazing day and evening.

    The Mr

    March 26, 2012

  • I love your sense of culinary adventure! I’m trying. I really want to order things like bone marrow or sweetbreads and not yarf while saying it. Have you been to Tru yet? I’ve heard good things about that. Or that one place that’s like $500 per person for dinner that’s all gastropub and alien-like to the rest of the world. I’m going to eat there before I die (if the price of the bill doesn’t kill me first!)

    I have to agree that the dinner we had at 676 Restaurant (a farm to table place) was excellent! A great charcuterie starter of a port wine salami with a cranberry compote, heirloom apple salad, duck confit flatbread, filet over a pea polenta and dessert was apple crisp for him and a hazelnut chocolate torte for me. Maybe not the most adventurous cuisine but certainly a nice change from the usual Chicago fare. (But you can bet your ascot we enjoyed some cinnamon roll pancakes at Orange and a Cooks Calling omelet at Eggsperience too!)

    San Francisco is a place you must hit up for a good foodie adventure! Princess Chicken from Z&Y Restaurant in Chinatown is like culinary crack. You’ll be the only honky in there too which is a sign of a truly authentic Chinese restaurant. Dang it, now I’m hungry!

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