Archive for June, 2009
In April, National Geographic Traveler (obsessed) did a feature on 48 hours in Chicago, and fashion designer Maria Pinto plugged Sepia, a stylish restaurant serving new American cuisine in a revamped 1890s print shop. It’s located in the up-and-coming West Loop, which just happens to be where I am subletting a gorgeous loft for our stay in Chi-town. Walking distance? Yesplease. My boyfriend, David, and I stepped into the dining room a few hours after we stepped off the plane and really enjoyed our meal. The starters were, perhaps, more successful than the entrees, but all are worth mentioning here.
We began with the duck confit and fig black pepper jam flatbread. At $6 we figured, why not? Very tasty with a generous heap of confit… familiar flavor profiles, but lovely nonetheless! David perused the apps and ordered Sea Scallops with Sunchoke, Serrano Ham and Marcona Salad. Very harmonious dish, scallops cooked to perfection. Still, my favorite dish of the night was my starter; Crispy poached Duck Egg with Morels, Asparagus, and Ramps. This tasted like a gift from the earth! And I had never seen this technique used to cook an egg… slightly under-poached, then sprinkled with bread crumbs and flash fried. Mmm…
We were very indecisive when it came the entrees, but we both kept coming back to one: Flat Iron Steak with “Hen of the Woods” and Bone Marrow Beignets. David and I both go mad for buttery beef marrow bones (if you haven’t had them at Prune in NY, drop everything and go… I don’t know who their purveyor is, but they are enormous and DIVINE) and “hen of the woods” is my favorite mushroom (oyster mushrooms, you come close!). When it arrived, the steak was surprisingly tender and beautifully cooked… but the mushrooms were sliced very thinly and sort of lost their presence on the plate. It robbed them of their earthy goodness a bit. The beignets were slightly greasy and skimpy on the bone marrow. So our high expectations weren’t quite met on this one. Our other entree, Halibut with Baby Artichokes, Israeli Couscous, and Salsa Verde was a bit more successful, even if it lacked acid. Halibut is pretty hard to ruin… well, unless you bread it and fry it to death. Ahem, McCormick and Schmick.
Desserts were tempting, but we went home and had broiled peaches, served with whipped cream. :)
All in all, this is a chic, innovative place to treat yourself… and even with our bottle of Torrontes, and ordering enough to feed a small country, the tab with tip came to about $190.
On route to the Magnificent Mile from our theatre, I passed a wonderfully curated artisan wine, bread, and cheese shop called Pastoral. One wall features a very eclectic array of wines, beautifully displayed with house rendered descriptions. I found everything from a Rioja Verdejo to a French Viognier to a Sav Blanc from Michigan. Who knew. And they have a fully stocked olive bar, and a cheese case to salivate over! But in your rush to find the perfect accompaniments to your dinner, don’t overlook their sandwich menu! A friend grabbed their Turkey Sedona, which seemed slightly unadventurous, albeit delicious! (Roasted turkey with green apple, field greens, red onion & Fromager D’Affinois cheese.) I opted for the Canard Balsamico (Herbed duck confit, balsamic cipollini onions, whole grain dijon mustard, field greens & Fromager D’Affinois). At only $8.62 (I don’t understand their pricing either), it felt like I was robbing them, considering the generous helping of confit. With a Limonata, my tally came to around $11. So, I parked myself in Millennium Park, with a schmancy brown bag lunch and a big smile.