Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blackbird 4/13/12 Pt 3. dessert

Soft Valrhona Chocolate with Pistachio Pain Perdu, Buttercream and Candied Beets....Beets with dessert? Is this some kind of f-ing joke?! If it was it was probably the most satisfactory one I have ever been presented. It worked pretty damn well! Chocolate, Pistachio, buttercream, yeah you get the picture...get it!

Espresso Sponge Cake, with blood Orange, honey and Turnip Ice Cream. Imagine eating remnants of a whiskey Sour with great ice cream and cake...It wasn't as kick ass as the previous dessert, but it was extremely imaginative and bad ass!

Blackbird 4-13-12 lunch Pt 2 Entrees

Wood Grilled Sturgeon with green Cabage, Enoki Mushrooms, Walnuts and Kaffir Lime. This was work of art: vision and taste. The Cabbage a slightly beautiful kimchi hint to it, accented by the darkness of the Enoki Mushrooms. Loved it!

Duck Leg Confit Grilled White Asparagus, Sourdough, Sea Beans and Herbs. What could possibly go wrong, unless the ingredients are prepared poorly? I have to say this was quite enjoyable. Back and forth: Asparagus, duck, etc. :D

Blackbird 4/13/12 lunch. Pt 1 Appetizers

Confit Octopus with Pea Porridge, Gunde's pickles, buttermilk and Dill Seed. I have never had Octopus melt in my mouth like this. No rough texture what so ever. The Buttermilk were in dehydrated chip form. Symphonic and Fantastic!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mana. Vegetarian Cuisine on Division 4-4-2012

I've been to The Vegetarian Restaurant Mana a 1/2 dozen times over the past 1.5 years. What I enjoy about Mana are Multi-Cultural choices that are readily available: Asian, Italian, American, Indian, white, etc. Also, the ability two order two different portions sizes in the event that you want a sampling of their menu; which is always key for me. 
 I have to admit if I had to choose a steak over a grilled eggplant I would of course take the steak. But sometimes a Mid-Westerner has to scale back his/her carnivorous desires for something that is a bit healthier. Well we shall se about that!
 My guest and I started off with the Corn Tamale with Roasted Jalepenos and cheddar Cheese, accompanied with a Tomato Lime Jam...Very nice. The jam added a really nice acidic spike to the sweet tamale. Would recommend this item if the Chicago Tamale guy isn't around. 
 Also served with this was the Chili with corn, chick peas, green onions, black beans and cheddar. Was great considering there wasn't any brisket involved. really enjoyed this.
 Next we had the White Castle Looking Sliders. Rice, Mushroom and Spicy Mayo. Man has been trying to replicate the simplicity of the beef hamburger in various ways for years. It's still not right! However I wouldn't kick a reasonably good looking hippie girl out of bed for eating these...They were passable. Pictured with the sliders is the "Indian" Saag Paneer (spinach, paneer cheese, yogurt and brown rice). Even though it tastes nothing like the real thing, it is something that I continue to order because it tastes really good. I man, how can you fuck up yogurt, cheese and spinach?? it's the good pizza vs. bad pizza argument....blah blah
 Also, not pictured was the Butternut Squash ravioli, arugala, walnut with Asiago cheese. A little dry for my taste, but I enjoyed all of the different hearty flavors that fused together. try Tuscany on Taylor for a richer rendition. 
Last was the Green Tea Cheese Cake with cookie crust and raspberries. I really wanted to fall in love with this. I enjoyed trying it but it fell flat in it's texture. Green Tea has fantastic texture. So I was a bit baffled to why this room temperature tasting treat was not fluffy and melt properly. Whatever, I tried it. Enough said. 
 If you haven't gone to Mana, try it out once. DO it! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Au Cheval

Opening night at Au Cheval was a pleasant experience. Like it's sister restaurants Gilt Bar and Maude's it is dimly lit with rich, classic decor. The music is also a nice fit: anywhere from jazz, to 60's rock to contemporary DJ tracks. It is quite a nice synthesis that Brendan Sodikoff has carved out for himself and his partners.
Let's talk about the contemporary Diner (yes Diner) experience that they are shooting for, shall we?
As the picture shows above, my guest and I started out the fries with a fried egg on top with rich/creamy dips. Was a nice rich fies plate that you would expect from a Belgian restaurant. yeah, ok start.
Second was a rather large pile of mixed greens drenched in salt. If that was what they were going for, that was it. Too much!
Last we had the in house made Bratwurst with garlic and potatoes. I have no complaints when it comes to dishes like this. Would I order it again from here, probably not. I would move on to other plates.
Their other selections are nice. Foie Gras with eggs, Asian Fried Chicken, salmon. They have a few dishes that would make you want to go there a few more times. The 30 beer they have on tap are great. The mixed cocktails they offer paired down but quite good.
Over all I really like the aesthetic and concepts. Over-priced, I would say yes. But running business, and particularly a restaurant business with little nuances, is not definitely not cheap. Go try it out for yourself. Au Cheval is at 800 w Randolph.