Chicago's Violet Hour made a huge impression on me, not just for the fact that they make amazing cocktails in a beautiful setting, but for their dedication and attention to detail. I've never seen a bar with a staff that was so knowledgeable and excited about the product that they were serving to their customers. All of the bartenders were more than willing to talk to me about bitters, the various spirits I had never heard of before, and all the good places to go eat around Chicago, and for that I was extremely thankful. Really good bar snack food as well.
I'm trying to set up a cocktail program at the restaurant, and it's turning out to be an interesting challenge where I'm learning more and more about the nuances of flavors and aromas. We're not set up to have a "bar" per se, but I really like the idea of having tasty, well-sourced, and thoughtful drinks to go along with our food, which follows the same philosophy. We'll see how it goes.
I love this fruit, and the fact that it's native to Virginia is awesome considering it tastes like a cross between a mango and a banana. It's also pretty great that all it takes to harvest them is a couple of shakes of a tree and six little hands running around picking them up.
Sat up at the kitchen counter of this beautiful restaurant and had an amazing meal.
Parmigiano tapioca, chives, black truffles.
King crab with roe, cucumber, tangerine lace. This dish was really awesome, probably my favorite. The sugar tuille was perfect with this, adding some sweetness to the saltiness of the roe.
Pea soup, melon, mint, lemon. Another killer dish. Fresh, clean flavors, great contrast in temperatures with the nitro-frozen puree.
Salmon belly, snail caviar, whipped chlorophyll, apple milk. Snail caviar is really weird. Good, but weird. Like briny dirt.
Frozen foie gras, plums, corn, hay. I love any parfait-type dish, and this was no exception, the corn pudding at the bottom was really delicious. The hay cracker didn't do much for me, however. We need to get a hay purveyor in VA.
Hato Mugi in the style of risotto, red wine, manchego, sorrel. I've never had hato mugi before, it was interesting and definitely enhanced by the manchego. Cheesy rice when you break it all down to its core.
I forgot to take a picture of the Iberico pork belly course, but it was awesome. They put lardo on top of pork belly! The smoked paprika/cocoa/bread combination was perfect. Here's a picture of it on Chef Duffy's blog.
Wagyu beef cheeks and ribeye, sesame, kalamansi. Very full at this point, I liked it a lot, though not as much as the pork belly.
This was a tasty little pre-dessert amuse of grapefruit and tarragon. I liked the jar.
Yogurt sponge, blackberries, nasturtium, cashews.
Chocolate sorbet, huckleberries, malt. The sorbet was delicious, it had a great mouthfeel. The flavors were all good together, I've never had huckleberries before. The cylindrical custards were set with something that gave it a strange texture which I wasn't crazy about.
Overall, an amazing meal with great service and hospitality. You can definitely see the Alinea influence, but everything had a more natural, organic feel to it, and it was really impressive to see the level of food that comes out of the size of their kitchen. The intimacy of the kitchen counter added greatly to the experience as well. The king crab dish was one of the best things I ate while I was in Chicago. I'm excited to go back at some point.
I recently had the good fortune to spend the majority of August in Chicago working at Alinea and eating and drinking all over town. It was an awesome experience, with meals at Alinea (thanks Chef!),Schwa, Avenues, Avec, Publican, Topolobampo, Mado, and perhaps most importantly, Hot Doug's.
Thanks to Judy at Terra Spice for hooking it up all over town.
Took at trip up to the Goodstone Inn in July and had an amazing time both during dinner and on the property. They're doing some really fun and delicious food, as seen on Tarver's blog.
Thanks to the whole staff for the great time and for hooking it up, I can't wait to go back.