Friday, October 2, 2015

Chicago: Blackbird

house bread, dill butter

beer vinegar, sunchoke, sorrel
carrot, dried scallop, licorice
honeydew, buttermilk, oxalis
stone fruit, marigold kale

smoke artic char roe, garden tomato

atlantic cod, gooseberries, pearl onion, lemon balm

nasturtium, branzino, palm, miso

dried duck, grape, popped corn

foie gras, frozen plum, charcoal salt

rohan duck, radish, sweet herbs

selected artisanal cheese

vodka, seeded dill flower

chamomile, english cucumber, sorrel ice

bourbon soaked peach, hazelnut brittle, sweet cream posset

additional dessert I can't remember what it was

What can I say about Blackbird without sounding like a jerk. The tasting was going well until I got to the popcorn dish. I've never asked to take a dish back nor leaving a full plate of food untouched. Maybe the chef ran out of chips and went with popcorn. Who knows! It was bad and I sucked it up and ate it. I think what drew the line for me was the foie gras dish. How can you fuck up foie gras. The culprit was too much charcoal salt. Way too salty for my taste and I can take salty dishes (e.g. popcorn dish a few minutes before). I would blame whoever plated that dish.

Popcorn, foie gras...FAIL

So what's next, duck. Now we're back to tasty dishes and none of this experimental bullshit. For a 1-star Michelin star restaurant, I do expect classic dishes and the occasional one off but NEVER a foie gras fail. I feel the one off was the vodka shot. As a palette cleanser, I think not.

Overall, I thought all of the dishes aside from the three mentioned above were solid. I was able to dine outdoors which was rare. The extra dessert which I can't remember it's description helped ease my earlier frustration. Would I go to Blackbird again? Definitely but I wouldn't do the tasting menu until a food critic like Phil Vettel has reviewed it.

I can hear it now, "You didn't like Blackbird....why would you say such a thing". I didn't say that, maybe I should have dined there before David Posey left.

619 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60661

Friday, September 4, 2015

What's Next: Chicago & New York

Next month I'm traveling back to Chicago and New York. Now that our landscaping projects are completed, I don't have to choose between Belgard pavers and a Michelin star meal.

For Chicago, I've booked Blackbird. I was hoping Band of Bohemia would open by September but it looks like it won't happen until October/November. I don't have many fancy dinner options in Chicago as I've already been to the ones worth dining at (e.g. Alinea, Grace, Sixteen, Next and the Girl & the Goat).

As for New York, I nabbed a seat at Atera. Although Executive Chef Ronny Emborg is relatively new to the U.S., his pedigree is impressive. Atera is a 2-star Michelin restaurant and the chef spent time at el Bulli and Mugaritz. His complete CV is located here. I'm also dining at Le Bernardin with some colleagues of mine. This work trip will keep my blog activity active for awhile.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Travel Log: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is a two hour train ride from Paris. The main reason why I wanted to go to Brussels was to go to the Delirium Cafe. The cafe is slightly hidden within Restaurant Row which took about 15 minutes to find. Aside from Belgium beer, the three things you have to have in Brussels are:
  1. Belgium waffles
  2. Chocolate
  3. Mussels and frites
Other main attractions are the Atomium (first photo), Mini-Europe, Grand-Place, Manneken-Pis – ‘Pissing Boy’, and Basilica of the Sacred Heart which is the fifth largest church in the world.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Travel Log: Paris, France

During our Paris trip last year, we stayed at our timeshare outside the city near Disneyland Paris. It was roughly a 40 min train ride into Paris. I didn't mind the extra time needed to get to the city since mass transit was available in the evening. We didn't need a taxi at all. 

I recommend arriving to Paris on Sunday or Monday to take advantage of the Paris Train metro pass, Navigo Decouverte. It's a smart card for a week/month that is valid on bus, metro, RER, Ile-de-France (Transilien) trains. The Navigo Decouverte pass price is available to visitors and valid only from Monday at 00:00 to Sunday 23:59:59. Additional details about this pass can be found here.

Before we left Paris, we stopped by the infamous love locks on the Pont des Arts bridge. We attached our padlock to the bridge but unfortunately, the locks were removed last June. I'm glad we didn't purchase a fancy padlock for it to be removed this year.

Compared to other cities in France, Paris seemed to be english-speaking friendly. I didn't have a problem getting around or ordering at restaurants. The one change I will make the next time we're here is planning a trip in May than in March since it was cold and rainy.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Paris: L'Arpege

creamed vegetable tart

carrot, spinach and beetroot puree tarts

beet sushi with fig leaf

black truffle, buckwheat waffle

vegetable ravioli, tomato consumee

salad, red onion, walnut sauce, parmesan

cevennes white onion gratin with black truffles

peas veloute with whipped creme chantilly


cous cous, semolina, vegetable sausage

dover sole with mushrooms and white wine sauce

roasted chicken in hay

comte cheese

Tarte aux Pommes “Bouquet de Roses”

vanilla macaron, chocolates with macadamia, and petits choux

This post is way overdue. We had our lunch tasting at L'Arpege over a year ago. Of all the meals during our European trip, L'Arpege put us in a food coma. I had to cancel our reservation at Pierre Gagnaire a few days later since we could no longer take on another tasting. I thought I paced our tasting menus per city but I think our stomachs couldn't handle the richness of French cuisine. 

So good, so full.

The best bang for your buck in Paris is having tastings during lunch rather than at dinner. You can expect dinner prices to be nearly twice as much. The Parisians are also very generous with their servings. Can't decide if you want the fish or chicken? Why not have both! The waiters are more than willing to accommodate your request. 

84 Rue de Varenne
75007 Paris, France
+33 1 47 05 09