Goosefoot

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So Goosefoot is not named after the anatomical part of a goose.  It is so called because of a family of plants that the proprietor likes to cook with.  This information is on their website, but I didn’t read it.  It was nice to get the explanation from the chef himself.

I can see why Chicago magazine listed it in their top 20 new restaurants of 2012.  I’m not sure I would place it above Next as the top pick, but it was really very good.  Chef Chris Nugent and his wife were delightful.  She runs the front of the house and he is in the back.  It makes for a warm and friendly evening.

As to the food, everything worked.  One can taste the classical French influence of Chef Nugent’s training in the sauces, which tended to be rich and creamy.  Of course, the quail and beef dishes were favorites, but I particularly liked the Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese dish that was served with a tapioca crisp.  It is not something you usually experience in a prix fixe menu.  The restaurant is BYOB so bring plenty of wine as the meal lasts a couple of hours.

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EL Ideas

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I just had an amazing meal at EL Ideas, a restaurant that is a cross between Sunday Dinner and Next.  Located in a back alley near Chicago’s Tri Taylor neighborhood, all of the restaurant’s 16 patrons are treated to a view of the kitchen during dinner and are encouraged by the owner, Phillip Foss, to observe and even help cook and plate.  I met Foss when he was operating the his Meatyballs food truck near the Aon center and got chased away by the cops.  He managed to sell us some sandwiches before driving away.  As good as the sandwiches were, the restaurant is far superior.

Our meal consisted of a 14 course dinner that lasted about 2.5 hours.  With 12 savories and 2 desserts, it seemed that each dish kept getting better and better–“no, this is my favorite dish of the night.”  The highlights were grouper served with carrot and kimchi, diced ham drizzled with cheese, foie gras with meyer lemon, and a cream soup with sweetbreads and lobster.  Not only was everything flavorful, but all of the combinations of flavors just worked.

I say a cross between Sunday Dinner and Next because the limited seating requires purchasing a “ticket” and you feel like you are eating at someone’s dinner party.  It is BYOB so bring plenty to drink.  I am definitely going back.

Longman & Eagle

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Another Michelin restaurant review.  Longman & Eagle is a “regional American” restaurant in the Logan Square area, down the street from another gem, Lula Cafe.  A relatively new restaurant, it was fortunate to have scored a Michelin star last year, and has maintained that rating for 2012.

This was my second visit.  I had eaten at the bar before, and had their burger.  That meal was more drinking than eating, as I sampled too many of their great whiskey and bourbon selection and beers.  I noted that I needed to come back because there were so many tasty sounding items on the menu.

On this return trip, I went with a friend who lives in the area.  We had the Buffalo sweetbreads appetizer, venison sausage, and duo foie gras dish.  The sweetbreads (typically the thymus gland of a calf) were fried and covered in a traditional Buffalo wing sauce.   I’ve had the traditional French preparation of sweetbreads, which has them breaded and fried.  This was exactly like that but with Buffalo wing sauce.  It was good and tender, but not so much more special than Buffalo chicken wings.  The venison sausage was very good, served with potato pierogi-like dumplings.  The foie gras dish was a perfectly seared serving with a foie gras flavored milkshake.  Can’t go wrong with foie gras.

My friend had the roast chicken, and I had the “steak and eggs” short ribs with an egg-filled ravioli.  I am a sucker for short ribs, and while this wasn’t the typical slow-cooked, fork tender braised short ribs that I usually encounter, they were very well prepared.  They were boneless and meaty, and I believe were oven roasted and tender and flavorful.  I would definitely order it again if it were on the menu.

Hello, Moto

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Moto Restaurant has been open since 2004, but despite its many accolades, I have never made it there–until now.  It recently received a coveted Michelin star for 2012, and the news encouraged me to go.

Chef Cantu’s signature innovations were on display:  his custom-designed fork, with its corkscrew shape that held fresh sprigs of oregano, and his special “trade secret” printer that can print on edible menus.  As you can see in the pictures, the menu was printed using this technique.  The menu also served as a wrapper that the diner is supposed to make a maki roll with the included bamboo mat.  The fork accompanied a pasta made with freeze-dried chicken “dough.”

My reaction to the initial reviews when the restaurant first opened was that the menu was too gimmicky for me.  However, after experiencing it for myself, I have to say that I had fun while also enjoying the meal.  Other surprises included a dish that had oysters “smoked” at the table.  A mysterious smoke-filled globe is placed on the table with a small opening to let the smoke escape, revealing oysters in the shell inside.  Then there was the table candle that was poured onto another dish.  The fuel was apparently some kind of edible material.  My favorite dish was the cigar, made with collard green “tobacco.”