Thursday, April 28, 2011

tru, chicago il
676 north st. clair street
chicago, il 60611

after previously experiencing alinea, l2o, and moto, our next choice for a decadent chicago tasting menu was between tru, avenues, spiaggia, and charlie trotters. we had originally decided on avenues only to be unable to secure a reservation for the available night of our visit, and tru became our choice. opened in 1999 by chefs rick tramonto and gale gand (tru stands for tramonto unlimited), tru is known for modern presentations of french cuisine with a mediterranean influence. tramonto left tru in 2010 to develop a new restaurant in new orleans, and while gand remains a partner, sole control of the kitchen has been given to chef anthony martin. before making the move to tru, martin was the executive sous chef at the prestigious joel robuchon restaurant in las vegas. tru received the honor of one star by the famed michelin restaurant guide when it made its first stop in chicago in the fall of 2010. unlike our meal at alinea a few months ago, i wasn't exactly sure of what to expect from tru and went into the meal with my expectations tempered. 

we arrived right on time for our 8:15pm reservation, and were led by a very pleasant hostess into one of the most grand dining rooms i have encountered in my young dining career. with classical music tinkering softly overhead, we were seated at two top that gave each of us a nice view of the half full  (pictures above were taken after the meal) dining room. we were easily the youngest couple in the restaurant, with most of the diners being in their fifties and sixties. before ordering, we were asked to decide between still or sparkling water, as well as black or white napkins.

tru offers three different menus, a three course prix fixe, six course grand collection, and nine course chef's collection. we went for the chef's collection without hesitation, which seemed to surprise our server a bit. in addition, we elected to add the three course dessert tasting to our meal. tru offers a rather extensive wine list, but the only way to fully appreciate a lengthy tasting menu is to partake in the available wine pairings, which we split to ensure sobriety by meals end. as i have mentioned before, neither carrie nor i drink heavily, and the full pairing would have had a negative impact on our meal. humorously enough, we were both carded before being allowed to take part in the wine pairings, something i have never encountered at an establishment of tru's caliber.

our first bites at tru were a pair of comte cheese gougeres. these were good, but not overly exciting, and were reminiscent to the flavor of a chez-it.

we were next presented with a large bread tray featuring four fresh made choices. choosing three of the four, my selections were a salted brioche, hearty pumpernickel, and a baguette style roll. all three breads were wonderful, with the brioche being the winner in my eyes. served along side the bread were both salted and unsalted butter.

immediately following the bread was an amuse bouche entitled cucumber salad on gelee, bouchot mussel veloute. served cold, this was light, smooth, and refreshing with an element of savor.

white sturgeon "caviar", avocado, hazelnut
santorini santorini barrel siglas 2009

our first proper course, served in a caviar tin, was a play on the traditional delicacy. instead of actual sturgeon eggs, these were made from smoked sturgeon fillets mixed with milk and rolled into pearls to resemble caviar. smooth and delicious, the sturgeon balls paired well with the mild avocado mousse that lay beneath them. served alongside the tin were three hazelnut crackers.

linear foie gras, black fig ice wine vinegar, caramelized popcorn
coteaux du layon clos ste, catherine domaine des baurmard 2006

course number two was one of our favorites of the evening, and could have easily been served along with the desserts. the rich and salty foie gras looked as though it had been squeezed from a toothpaste tube, and contrasted very nicely with the sweet flavors of the figs and popcorn.

inside of an english pea soup, lavender
prager gruner veltliner achleiten smaragd wachau 2007

dish three was the only dish i was hesitant about, as i am not a great fan of peas as a whole. however, as i have mentioned before, i am starting to learn that even food items i tend to dislike can be delicious in the hands of a world class chef. poured table side, the soup was smooth and creamy, with a bit of sweetness along with a bit of savor. i can say without a doubt this is the best use of the pea i have ever encountered.

dashi flan, edamame, yuzu koshu
kamoizumi kome kome happy bride hiroshima prefeture

next up was a rich and creamy flan topped with american sturgeon caviar with edamame. while by no means bad, this dish may have been my least favorite of the evening.

duroc pork belly, stone ground grits, pickled ramps
nahe riesling kabinett diel 2009

this was a fairly simple course, and was kind of a gourmet play on comfort food. all the flavors here were good, although i found the pork belly a bit lean for my taste.

scottish salmon, sorrel, smoked cream
isole e olena chardonnay tuscany 2009

served on a very intricate plate, this course featured some of the best bites of salmon i have tasted. topped with a very smokey flavored cream, the salmon was cooked to perfection, and melted in my mouth. also on the plate were some dots of a sorrel sauce, which gave the dish a bit of acidity.

glazed veal, fava bean, morel mushroom, tokyo turnip, prosciutto
brunello di montalcino casanuova delle cerbaie 2003

for our final savory course of the evening, we with presented with veal, a protein i typically find rather bland. luckily that was not the case with tru's offering, as this perfectly cooked cut was full of delicate beef flavor. also on the plate were turnips, mushrooms, fava beans, and a bit of prosciutto. this was the largest course of the evening, and was a nice end to the savory portion of the meal.

a selection of cow, goat, and sheep's milk cheese
poire granit eric bordelet 2009

next up, a server approached our table pushing a cart boasting rather impressive selection of cheeses. i am unable to recall the cheeses that i chose, but all three were quite nice, with the one in the middle being one of the most pungent (in a good way) cheeses i have tasted.

a light cucumber and yuzu vanilla bean sorbet was served next as a palate cleanser. this was quite tasty and surprisingly tart, and proved to be a good segue to the sweet dessert courses.

before our first true dessert course, an offering of honey madelines was brought to the table. served warm, these were wonderfully light and absolutely delicious. we could have easily eaten another helping.

honeycrisp apple beignet, vanilla ice cream
sauternes chateau rieussec 1998

our dessert proper began with a pair of warm and delicious apple filled beignets. crisp on the outside and soft within, the beignets paired wonderfully with the accompanying vanilla ice cream.

gleaming chocolate mousse coffee ice cream, chicory texture
rare wine company boston bual special reserve

regretfully, due to my work schedule and following the bruins closely as they compete in the stanley cup playoffs, i was unable to get to this review until a week after dining at tru. being that i refuse to take notes during a meal (pics are bad enough), the last two dessert course have been lost in my memory. while i do recall both being excellent, i cannot really comment on either at this time.

passion fruit mousse, coconut, lime, chocolate terrain
muscat de beaumes-de-venise domaine de durban 2007

following the final dessert course, a cart of mignardises was brought to the table. we were left to choose from six different types of chocolates and pastries. carrie, who was beginning to feel full, opted for just two while i requested one of each. all were delicious, with the canale being the clear winner for me.

served alongside the mignardises was a miniature root beer float. this was not at all unlike the classic dessert one can easily make at home, but never the less, it was enjoyable to sip on with the mignardises.

our final bites at tru came in the form of exploding chocolate truffles. we were told to put these in our mouth, seal our lips, and bite down. the light chocolate shell is liquid filled and does indeed burst in the mouth. carrie, who seems to be cursed with bad luck, had an incident with hers however. when she picked up her truffle, it burst in her hands (she claims it was defective) and got all over the tablecloth. a server quickly rushed over, took care of the mess, and brought carrie another truffle. we were the last couple in the restaurant, but carrie was still sufficiently embarrassed!

on our way out, we made a stop at the restroom, which was rather plain with the exception of this incredible sink.

before departing, we were presented with a personalized menu listing each of the courses and wines we consumed along with a treat to eat the next morning.

as i mentioned above, i was a bit unsure of what to expect going into our meal at tru. prior to previous tastings at alinea and moto, i had done extensive research on each restaurant and knew much about what i would be experiencing. i wanted to go into the meal at tru not knowing what was coming, and i feel like this heightened the overall experience somewhat. while the service was a bit stiff at first, the servers definitely loosened up a bit by the end of the evening, conversing and joking freely with the two of us. overall, tru provided us with a wonderful experience and is a place i would definitely recommend to someone wanting a progressive upscale meal with classic sensibilities.
Tru on Urbanspoon

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