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Friday, March 4, 2011

Restaurant Week 2011 Recap

Chicago Restaurant Week just ended and here’s my 2011 recap and reviews for you.  I love being able to try an entire meal at new restaurants for a decent price. You get an appetizer, entrée and dessert for $33 (dinner, lunch is $22), usually from a prix fixe menu (although Zapatista’s wasn’t).  

Terzo Piano
Tues and I took a long lunch at Terzo Piano in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute. Meh. Despite the buzz about this fresh, local, organic, “Italian with a modern perspective” hot spot, we were not impressed. I mean, we definitely enjoyed the Chicago views from the floor to ceiling windows all around.  And the piazza overlooking Millenium Park on the sunny day was wonderful. I imagine it’d be gorgeous when the flowers in the gardens are in full bloom. I could wander around the city for hours on days like that and just take it all in J  Anyway, back to the restaurant…

We appeared to be the youngest people there, other than the very well poised children who were with their well cultured mothers. To start, there was foccacia. Which wasn’t even good! And neither was the EVOO!  Bleh, not a good sign when the bread isn’t good at an Italian restaurant.  For our appetizer, we both had the {Pea shoot and fennel salad with fresh goat's milk cheese and creamy tarragon dressing}. It wasn’t my thing - kinda resembled grass and the goat cheese wasn’t well complemented with the other stuff. Maybe I should’ve tried the beet soup instead. Moving onto my entrée, I had {sesame crusted white fish with cucumber salad}. It was fine, nothing special. Tues had the {hand crafted pappardelle with beef Bolognese and parmesan} which was good, but not good enough to leave her wanting more. For dessert, I had the {blueberry cobbler with buttermilk ice cream} which was again fine, nothing special. Tues had the {ten year aged cheddar with sugared bacon walnuts} - the cheese case when you walk in convinced her. The walnuts were delish, but again, not impressed with the entire dish.

Lunch at Terzo Piano wasn’t anything that we hoped for, wah wah. At least my dinner at Perennial was outstanding!

Doug and I haven’t had a date night since October! It’s important to me to have uninterrupted time alone where we can actually have a conversation with undivided attention. Despite this priority of mine, he tried cancelling.  But as with most things, I forced him to go, and in the end he loved it. As usual. Wife is always right J I’ve been to Perennial once before (with Tues) for Chef’s week, and we loved it. So Doug and I were definitely excited for our dinner. It’s a perfect date night spot although the tables are a little close to my liking as I prefer not to hear the entire conversation the couple next to us is having.

To start, we had the {sweet potato soup, honey, smoked chilies, perennial trail mix} and {confit duck croquettes, garlic aioli, thyme}. I didn’t know what to expect from a sweet potato soup, but it was SO GOOD! The smoked chilies made it so subtly tasty and the trail mix was perfect for a little bit of crunch.

We had {grilled berkshire pork belly, braised red cabbage, mustard spaetzle, apple purée, apple gastrique} and {scallops, thumbelina carrots, turnips, spinach, smoked pearl onions, sweet onion broth} for entrees. Loved the pork belly - nice and fatty and tender. On the menu they had a {short rib ravioli, mushrooms, apples, mushroom broth} for an extra $10 which we initially passed on. But since Doug was already planning what he was going to eat when he got home to fill the rest of his belly, we decided we should get it. And turns out Doug thought it was the best part of the meal! It was light, delicious and the mushrooms were a perfect accompaniment.

To top off the night, we had the {cheesecake with raspberry custard, cream cheese foam, graham cracker ice cream} and the {crispy hazelnut bar with milk chocolate, crème fraiche, and pistachio ice cream}.  They are just as good as they sound! mmMMM! This meal was a perfect way to end Restaurant Week! We're going to miss all the food when we move onto suburban life a few years from now L