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.
I chanced upon a Facebook or Twitter post for a preview tasting of an upcoming restaurant in Chicago called Balena–which is a collaboration between the Boka Restaurant Group and Chris Pandel, the chef from the Bristol. Rustic Italian is the theme of the food, and the cocktail menu, courtesy of the Bristol’s Debbi Peek, has an amaro theme.
The setting of this pop-up dinner was Tenzing Wine & Sprits in the West Loop, and a group of about forty people were treated to a five-course meal with wine pairings. All of the items served are supposed to be on the opening menu. The stewed tripe soup (a less spicy Italian version of menudo–it even has chickpeas, which were listed by the fancier name, ceci beans) and amaro-infused roasted duck were my favorites. My least favorite was one of the pasta duos, a orechiette (shells) served with a lemon cream sauce.
As I’ve said in a previous post, I think highly of chef Pandel’s talents. The Balena menu is off to a good start, and I hope they allow for some of the same daily creativity and menu changes that makes me go back to the Bristol.
Part two of the Michelin star tour was a visit to Boka, the flagship restaurant of the Boka Restaurant Group. I had already been to executive chef Giuseppe Trentori’s namesake restaurant, GT Fish and Oyster Bar in River North as well as The Girl & the Goat, but hadn’t yet made it to the original restaurant.
The menu looked tasty, and because it was my first time there, I decided to try the tasting menu (they have a 4, 6, or 9 course option). The six-course prix fixe menu sounded about right, and I enjoyed everything. There was a Bento box presentation of raw fish–my favorite was the Adobo-rubbed tuna. The savory dishes included the salmon, lamb, and duck breast off of the regular menu. The only thing that I would have liked to try was the pork “osso busco,” so that will have to wait until the next visit.
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.”