123 north jefferson street
chicago, il 60661
the final meal of our most recent chicago food trip was lunch at sepia. built from an 1890 print shop, sepia's food and space embrace classic thought with a modern edge. the kitchen is run by chef andrew zimmerman, who was the sous chef at nomi (also in chicago) before taking the job at sepia.
arriving at the restaurant via taxi right on time for our 1:30 reservation, we were given the choice of sitting up front in the window, or in the actual dining room. i had seen pics of the dining room online, and we went that route. sepia's decor is absolutely gorgeous, with lots of exposed brick and ornate chandeliers covered with interesting light shades.
my cocktail for the day (on the left) was the boston martha, made with magnolia and oolong tea infused bushmills irish whiskey, yellow chartreuse, honey, lemon, egg whites, and orange bitters. there was a lot going on with this one, and i really enjoyed the frothy quality the egg whites gave the drink. carrie's drink, called la brasilena, featured leblon cachaca, muddled limes, cynar, vanilla brown sugar syrup, fall bitters, and an ancho chili sugar rim.
a nice french baguette was served with butter, and i commented to carrie that it had been awhile since we had such a simple bread offering. while it may have been basic, it was delicious, and a nice change from some of the more complex bread offerings we have had lately.
my first taste of chef zimmerman's cooking was actually my favorite, and came in the form of pappardelle pasta with braised duck sugo and parmesan. this was a wonderful dish with long sheets of delicate pasta topped with delicious duck. i was sad when it was time for carrie and i to trade plates. save for the dishes i had at alinea, this is a contender for best dish of the trip.
carrie's choice of starter was the best frisee salad either of us have ever had. topped with the typical poached egg and thick cut bacon, the salad was fantastic.
for my entree, i chose the cubano sandwich with fried plantains. the sandwich was made in typical fashion, with slow roasted pork, ham, pickles, and mustard. while it was a good sandwich, i was a tab underwhelmed by it as a whole. if given a do over, i would have chosen a different starter, and ordered the larger portion of the pappardelle that was available as my main.
carrie chose the market fish and chips as her main, and we both agreed that they were also good but by no means great.
moving on to dessert, i went for the pistachio bisquit ricotta cream, lavender yogurt-ice cream, and cherry syrup. a decent dessert, but honestly not that memorable.
carrie's went for the coffee cardamom caramelized tart with chocolate frangelico sauce. this offering fared much better than the pistachio bisquit, with the carmelization adding a nice element of texture to the coffee and chocolate flavored dessert.
all things considered, our meal at sepia was good, but not great. there some great offerings like the duck pappardelle, the frissee salad, and the coffee tart, but there were also some things that were just ok. price wise, this was luckily the most affordable meal we had on this trip (save for pequod's). sepia's dinner menu looks promising, and if the dishes are more in vein of the pappardelle, i would imagine that an excellent meal could be had. however, we have a lot of dinner places on our list of "must try" restaurants in chicago, so i do not see dinner at sepia in our plans anytime soon.