Friday, January 31, 2014

the lobby at the pennisula - chicago, il
108 east superior street
chicago, il 60611

not much to say here...our lunch at the peninsula was solid but nothing to write home about. the highlight for me was the burger topped with red wine braised shortribs. service was a bit robotic/cold but got the job done efficiently.
cocktails to begin

bread service

hand rolled tagliolini, artichokes, tomatoes, parmesan

potato-leek soup, artic char, lemon, thyme

the lobby burger - red wine braised short ribs, smoked cheddar, sweet potato fries

maine lobster roll, tarragon, celery, pickled vegetables

floating island


Thursday, January 30, 2014

l2o (3) - chicago
2300 north lincoln park west
chicago, il 60614

back in june of 2010, my wife carrie and i booked a reservation at l2o to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. it was our first time at a restaurant of this caliber/price point, and i remember leaving the restaurant knowing that i wanted to be a part of the fine dining world. the flavors, textures, service, and atmosphere were all unlike anything i had ever experienced before, and this blog is evidence of the fact that i have become addicted to dining at the highest level. since that first meal (which was obviously pre-blog), we have returned to l2o twice, once to sit in the tatami room, and another time for an extended tasting under new chef matthew kirkley. this means that prior to this most recent meal, we had eaten at l2o under all three of the restaurants chefs (laurent gras, francis brennan, matthew kirkley).

this meal had a lot to live up to, and while i am not sure that it quite hit the highs of our past visits, it was still excellent. first things first, i love my bread, and l2o still has the best bread program i have yet experienced. while all of the offerings are great, the bacon epi, pain au lait, and (most importantly) rosemary croissant deserve the most praise. between my wife and i, we consumed almost twenty pieces and required a second pad of butter. as for the menu itself, every course was good with some being exceptional, but there were a few too many cold dishes for my taste, and i missed the inclusion of a meat course to finish the savory portion of the meal. my favorite courses were geoduck, foie gras "pbj", crab soup, cusk, and chocolate. i was disappointed to find that the canele was no longer included with the mignardises, but the take home kouign amann was a welcomed addition.

service was terrific as expected, with everyone being professional yet laid back with no pretension or rigidness to be found. the sommelier was very helpful in assisting us with wine selections by the glass throughout the course of the night, and for the first time we were offered a tour of the kitchen at meals end. as stated above, l2o is the restaurant that got me into fine dining, and it will always be special to me for that reason. i know that i will return again someday, but my trips to chicago are likely to lessen in favor of other destinations, so i do not see it happening in the near future.
krug grande cuvee to begin

crab chips, old bay

mussel tart, lemon, parsley

bread service

geoduck clam, manila clam, lime

nootka oyster, green apple, noilly prat, celery

cockles, iceberg, parmesan
matsutake, spiny lobster, mango, rosemary
strawberry, foie gras, brioche, lillet
etrilles, orange, fennel, saffron
vive, variegated lemon, cucumber, tarragon
cusk, turnip, foie gras, chives
abalone, bone marrow, black truffle
pineapple, coconut rum, lemon
cream puff, chartreuse
cannoli, citrus, anise
chocolate, lemon, brioche, olive oil