Chicago Take 3: Ohhh the Food!

We just can't go to a city like Chicago without stalking for days casually finding some good restaurants to try out.  We booked our hotel room through Hotwire (LOVE Hotwire!) and we ended up at the hotel where Chef Marcus Samuelson's restaurant, C-House, is located.  Friday night dinner: decided!

For those of you (most of you) who aren't crazed about food and chefs, he's a pretty big deal.  He won Top Chef Masters Season 2, and his food is unique, with influences from his life through Ethiopia, Sweden, and USA (mostly NYC inspired).  Here's a little more about him.
The restaurant was beautiful. Great Ambiance. Nice clean lines and all copper toned (all the art on the walls were in sepia, his copper pots were in the front of the kitchen, the chairs were a burnt sienna / rust tone, and the lighting was all shaded in copper).

We did not sit down for a full course meal, as we were off to the birthday girls surprise, but we did order off the bar menu which still had a lot of options.  We ordered these three dishes:

avocado and pickled red onion on a bed of dehydrogenated corn.  The Yellowtail was sushi style, and the avocado was a mousse that also had lime and cilantro.  The only complaint I had was actually directed at ourselves in that we didn't order more of them. (The picture below isn't mine....mine was blurry)

The second dish we ordered was the Angus Prime Burger with Gouda cheese, lettuce, tomato and onions.  Here's the only part of the meal that took a wrong turn but maybe that's because we ordered a hamburger in an upscale restaurant and disappointed us a bit.  Terry cut it in half for us (which I still don't know how he did) but when we went to bite in, the bread was un-bite-able.  Imagine a juicy succulent savory smelling burger in the middle waiting to be devoured, and it's sitting in the middle of two bricks. Go ahead. Imagine it. Now imagine trying to take a bite.  I'm all for trying something new, and the concept of a baguette for a roll is fine, but it ended up making the burger get squished, the onion and the tangy/tart cabbage (not sure if it was sauerkraut or horseradish) fall out, and the juices go to waste all over my hands.  They brought us bread before our food arrived, and we couldn't figure out why they wouldn't have used it for the burger because it was melt in your mouth goodness. So much so, that I took the remains of my smashed and saddened burger and plopped it in what was left of that goodness bread.  (this is a stock photo from C-House.  Funny that the bread looks like the "good" bread in this picture....

....here's my picture (sorry again it isn't so pretty but it was very dim lighting) with the "bad" bread. You can see what I mean about the bun and how the bread behind it would have made it perfect.  This almost makes the bread look like it had teeth prepared to bite back at you.  The fries were delicious though....always love boardwalk style fries. :-)

The last dish we ordered was his version of Mac & Cheese.  It had pork sausage, goat cheddar and campanelle noodles.  It was so rich and cheesy, and the crunch on the top with the small bits of sausage in the sauce made me not want to let Terry have any of it and keep it for myself.

Here are other Pictures online of his food and restaurant.  I would definitely give it another try and see how his main menu stacks up.  And the dessert menu....who are we kidding. 

After a lot of wandering around downtown Saturday, we decided that we would try out Graham Elliot Bowles restaurant, Graham Elliot.  Graham is a pretty big deal in the food world.  At age 27, he was the youngest 4-star chef to be named in any major US city. Graham competed on Top Chef Masters both seasons, and he is on the new TV show with Gordon Ramsey, MasterChef.  Here's more about him. There weren't any available tables until 9:45 in the dining room, so we decided to just grab seats at the bar...turns out we could order from the full menu there (sweet!). 
(It was either you could see the sign and you couldn't see Terry, or you could see Terry and be blinded by the sign....I always choose to see Terry :-)  )  

The mood inside the restaurant was very modern.  You can kind of see it below, but the art on the wall is actually a single line of pomegranates, and there is an angles mirror behind it, so it looks like there are rows upon rows of pomegranate traveling into the wall.  It was really interesting in person. Still curious why of everything he decided pomegranate.  For how modern it looked however, it was layed back.  All the wait staff were wearing jeans, and although the menu was a bit daunting (we had never tried half the stuff on the menu), it was easy to ask questions and not feel like an imbecile.

After we put in our order, they brought us popcorn.  Yes, popcorn.  And it's the best popcorn we've ever eaten.  It had fresh ground pepper, chives, parmesan cheese, and a new ingredient to our palattes, truffle oil.  YUM! 
With some deliberation and assistance from our bartender waiter, we decided on the following three dishes for dinner:

Game Birds: Squab breasts, quail eggs, rye crisp, and mustard caviar.  Or at least that's what the menu said.
The consistency was a little hard for me to get past.  It reminded me of congealed fat, but once I was able to ignore the texture, the flavor profile was nothing I've ever experienced.  For the record, quail egg tastes like a regular egg, just daintier.  The green smear in the middle of the plate was parsley puree.  The slaw on the edges had a sharp tang to them as well as dill and celery seed.  I dont remember what the red sauce was. Loss of words started about here in the evening.

The next plate we had was: Wagyu Beef, trumpet mushrooms, roquefort custard, salsify frites, and arugula puree.  Or at least that's what the menu said.
First off, let me say that I dont do mushrooms.  With that being said, I could eat mushrooms like that in large vats at a time.  Find me a vat (and a fork) and leave me be for a few hours.  Terry can have the Wagyu.  The Wagyu was delicious, but I could not distinguish it as anything more amazing than a really delicious filet.  Terry thought otherwise.  He was having sensory overload.  Oh and the sauces, I didn't mention the Au Jus.  Salty, earthy, heavy aromatics.  One word summation of this plate: Sinful.

The final dish:  roasted cod, creamed wheat, swiss chard, warm pancetta, espresso gastrique.  Or at least that's what the menu said. 
The final dish.  In my opinion; the masterpiece plate.  The creamed wheat was made of Bulgar, dill, parsley, onion, stock, and parmesean cheese.  The greens were dandelion leaves.  The sides were clementines and apples slices in a silky sauce that was a bit tart.  Pancetta on the top.  And then the star of the show, the cod.  Perfect sear. Perfect flakiness, Perfect to every other component on the plate.  This cod easily ranks as one of the best dishes I've ever eaten.  Again, get me a vat of that creamed wheat (and a spoon) and leave me alone for a few days.

Here are other pictures online of his food and restaurant. I already can't wait until the next time in my life that I get to eat at this restaurant.  Jordan and Billy showed up about half way through the meal and I felt bad because we were in the middle of this mind explosion and completed thoughts and conversation were very difficult. 

I promise I won't go on and on about food like this all the time, but frankly this blog is just as much a memory keeper for me as it is keeping everyone who reads this up to speed with the fun things going on in the lives of  T&L.  That being said, this was a weekend of food we have never experienced before and it gets me really excited and I start describing the plates and re-tasting and re-living the meal, and it just makes me happy.  So I won't offer any apologies for the food over-load either.  :-) 

Oh and my final note: Specific to Jeff:  You asked if these blogs take a long time to write, to which I answered that most of them don't take much time at all.  Well......this post.....this was not one of the "shorties".  Goodness, I've been drafting this one for the past 3 days.  But I captured it all perfectly.  Now I just need your camera for some good pics of my own.  :-)


Kim said... Add Reply

My god who are you people? =)

LGibbs said... Add Reply


Same people. Maybe 5-10 lbs heavier than typical. Maybe that's why you don't recognize us.

Scientific Housewife said... Add Reply

Oh the food looks amazing!

Thanks for your link color tip, I changed it so hopefully everyone can see it better :)

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