Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We skipped town just ahead of the a blizzard that dropped a foot and a half of snow (correct me if I'm wrong). The drive was long, but relatively pleasant. When we got to Chicago we quickly unloaded the car and unpacked. My gracious roommate then drove us around the city for a while, showing us some neighborhoods and restaurants, as well as other points of interest. We then had breakfast at Eggsperience in River North. Eggsperience has a large menu of relatively standard breakfast fare, as well as truly behemoth portions.


Caliente Wrap - Scrambled eggs, chorizo, onions, pepperjack, hash browns, jalapenos
Chorizo Omelette - Chorizo, tomatoes, onions, pepperjack, and jalapeno

Farmstand Frittata - Spinach, mushrooms, bacon, jack & cheddar

After breakfast we went back to the apartment to relax a bit and plan out the rest of the day. Exhausted from the trip, we all wound up napping longer than expected. We then headed to the West Loop for dinner at Blackbird. Blackbirds chef, Paul Kahan, seems to be one of the most popular chefs in Chicago. Also under his wing are Avec and The Publican (which smelled amazing as I walked past it on my way to Moto). We were a bit hesitant to photograph our dinner as the menu requests no cell phones...So let it be known any pictures from here on are scoured from the web. We started off with a round of cocktails, each of which were wonderfully flavored and balanced. These were the best drinks I have had in a long time. The Blackbird Orange (Koval Rye Chicago, Spiced Honey, Orange Juice, Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters) was refreshing and perfectly balanced and not overly sweet as most drinks seem to be.



Oz - Pierre Ferran Ambre, Plum Wine, Apple Cider Syrup, Sparkling Wine. My least favorite of the three, but still a great drink.
London Calling - Plymouth, Pimms, Apple Butter, Cucumber Soda. Not overly sweet or too heavy with cucumber (a common issue I have with cucumber drinks) - this was reminiscent of milled cider, but better and more balanced.
Smoked suckling pig with hama hama oyster, fall giardiniera, sunchokes, and hazelnuts.
Octopus confit with celery root, crispy tuscan kale, caviar and red navel orange. The octopus was fork tender.
Blue hill bay buchot mussel soup with whitefish, saffron, garlic, and basil. This was the weakest dish of the evening.

Roasted chicken and sausage with cauliflower, maitake mushrooms, kaffir limes, and applewood broth. The chicken and sausage was done as a ballontine, and incredibly executed. All the accompaniments were great.

Grilled iberico pork collar with roasted turnips, charred leeks, quince, and black truffle.

Alaskan sablefish and sweet potato brandade, shrimp brased onions, turmeric and pickled cranberries. Amazing all around. The fish was some of the best I have ever had, the brandade complimented it perfectly - as did the pickled cranberries and other accompaniments.

We also ordered three desserts (sorry for the lack of photos):
Phyllo brittle with caramelized white chocolate, almond yogurt, blood orange, aperol and cranberry sorbet. A stunningly beautiful dessert. The sorbet was the highlight.

Banana pain perdu with butterscotch, malt, pine nut, and burbon barrel wood ice cream. This was the best of the three - all the components worked beautifully together. The ice cream was fantastic.

Graham cracker puff pastry with tonka bean, cinnamon, marshmallow, pumpkin, and milk chocolate ice cream. This was the only dessert we weren't crazy about.

Overall, Blackbird was a fantastic experience. The service was impeccable and the food was truly great. They offer a $22 3 course lunch as well as a $100 11 course (including amuse and intermezzo) dinner menu, both of which I plan on checking out while I'm in town.

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