Friday, April 29, 2011

bonsoiree, chicago il

http://www.bonsoireechicago.com/
2728 west armitage avenue
chicago, il 60647


bonsoiree, which is located in chicago's logan square neighborhood, is a 26 seat establisment run by owner/chef shin thompson. the menu changes seasonally and features modern american cuisine heavily influence by japanese and french presentations and techniques. the restaurant was born from chef thompson's days running underground dinner parties all over chicago, and stays true to its roots on saturdays when dining is invitation only. bonsoiree is a byob, and serves no other beverages aside from water.


being that carrie and i had tickets to see mogwai play at the metro theatre later that evening, we booked the earliest reservation possible, 5pm. with the cab ride taking much longer than expected, we actually arrived about twenty minutes late. this was not an issue, and we were told to seat ourselves at any table set for two. i knew going in that bonsoiree was a very intimate restaurant, but i was still surprised at how small the space actually was. the soundtrack at bonsoiree sounded like it came straight from my ipod, with cuts from radiohead, arcade fire, pearl jam, bon iver, and more playing throughout the night. dining room service was handled by two servers, who assisted tables as needed without designating themselves to certain guests. both servers were friendly and easy to talk with, and made us feel relaxed and at home. taking full advantage of the byob policy, carrie and i brought a bottle of oregon pinot noir as well as a french vouvray. both bottles were surrendered to the staff, and served at appropriate times throughout the meal.

 quail lollipop - sour orange curry, thai flavors, thai basil, lemongrass, kumquat brulee

our eight course tasting began with a quail "lollipop". this dish was crispy, tart, and spicy and was a good warm up course that got our palettes tingling.

coriander butter poached tasmanian ocean trout - fava bean and fennel pudding, toasted sunflower tuille, rhubarb bloody marry

served in a boat of sorts, course two featured some of the best bites of fish i have ever eaten. paired alongside a smooth fava bean and fennel pudding and dots of a spicy rhubarb bloody marry concoction, the tasmanian ocean trout had a very fresh and clean flavor to it. while the accompaniments were good, i chose to eat most of the fish on its own so as not to mask its natural flavors.


motoyaki

course number three, a scallop and crab motoyaki,  was far and away the best course of the meal in the eyes of both carrie and myself. made with a surprisingly spicy ponzu aioli that contrasted beautifully against the sweet shellfish, carrie commented that this offering was better than anything we had eaten the night before during a 10+ course tasting at tru.


fully loaded potato - smoked duchesse, crispy sour cream, pulverized pancetta, crystallized celery, sharp cheddar creme anglaise

this was probably the most fun course of the meal to eat. basically, we have all the components of a loaded baked potato presented in a deconstructed manner. the combination of the smokey pancetta, savory cheddar anglaise, and crispy sour cream mixed beautifully with the smooth duchesse potatoes, and was a brilliant pair with our oregon pinot noir.

genmaicha pork tenderloin/crisp pork belly - genmaicha sake broth, carrot glazed peas, dashi soaked mushrooms, cherry-ramp chutney

the stars of this dish for me were most definitely the tenderloin and the cherry-ramp chutney. the pork belly was very disappointing, as it completely lacked the tenderness and flavor it is typically known to possess. i have noted before that peas are not a vegetable i am usually fond of, and while these were better than most, i still left several of them on my plate.

prime rib tonkatsu - fermented black bean gravy, blueberry-basil biscuits, jackfruit

the final protein course of the meal came in the form of breaded and fried prime rib tonkatsu. crispy on the outside and tender within, the prime rib was plated with an interesting black bean gravy, delicious blueberry-basil biscuits, and a dab of a jackfruit that added a bit of sweetness to the dish.


reverse cheese and crackers

serving as a segue between the savory courses and dessert, this course was a miss in my opinion. basically, we have cheese and crackers presented in reverse, meaning what looks like cheese was actually a saltine panna cotta, and what looks like a standard cracker was a cheese flavored crisp. also on the plate was a grape and a bit of salami for good measure. while the dish wasn't revolting or inedible, it did little for me as a whole.


eight chocolate presentations

our final bites at bonsoiree were eight unique presentations of chocolate. since i refuse to take notes during a meal, i am unable to go into detail on any of them. i can certainly comment that each of them was very good, with the creme brulee and white chocolate beignet being my favorites.

sufficiently buzzed (ok...drunk) after consuming a bottle of wine each, we chatted with the severs for a bit before settling the bill and hailing a cab to wrigleyville for the show. although a few of the courses were a miss in my opinion, our meal was a largely positive experience. given the price point (less than half of our meal the night before at tru including the wine we brought), use of fresh ingredients, and overall creativity of the dishes,  i could see us coming back each time the menu changes to try more of chef thompson's creations if we lived in chicago.
Bonsoirée on Urbanspoon

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