El Ideas

Chris suggested going to El Ideas to celebrate Missy’s birthday. Typically, it’s really difficult to score a reservation at the restaurant, since they only take reservations through a lottery system. But Eric’s practically a regular there, having gone 4 times in 3 months, so he didn’t have much trouble getting us a table. Alas, at the last minute, Chris had to go out of town for work, so we had to go on without her.

Nonetheless, it was a fun-filled evening. Missy had no idea where we were taking her to, so we had a great time teasing her about bringing her to some abandoned warehouse. In point of fact, this probably wasn’t too far from the truth. The restaurant, after all, is tucked away in the first floor of a dark building at the end of a quiet street in the south side of Chicago. But inside, the lighting is inviting and cozy and feels like we’re eating in someone’s loft apartment, which is precisely the feel the founders Phillip Foss and Andrew Brochu were going for.

Photos are by Eric; I was too intent on attacking my food to want to spend time trying to take pictures. 🙂

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE ONE tasmanian trout, smoked roe, radish, mustard

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE TWO flan made from sea urchin roe topped with scrambled egg, chantrelle mushroom, razor clam

The uni with scrambled eggs on brioche was simply sublime. It reminded me of eggs Benedict, only a gazillion times better. I’d happily wolf down a plateful for brunch any day!

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE THREE popcorn ice cream, charred cauliflower, cheddar

This was a piece of work, and I mean it in the best of terms. I didn’t quite know what to make of the popcorn ice cream the first time I bit into it. The second time, I enjoyed the mix of flavors of the ice cream with the cheddar and cauliflower. The third bite, I was disappointed there wasn’t more.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE FOUR tuna, anchovy, white bean

This was my least favorite course. The arugula paste (in green) was bitter, especially so with the glass of Tangent Grenache Blanc we brought (I love, love, love that it’s BYOB!). And none of us could figure out what the jelly ball was.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE FIVE lobster, monkfish, artichoke, potato, bee pollen

The monkfish was oh-so-tender, and the lobster had just the right chewiness to it. So good! We lapped up every morsel.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE SIX octopus, potato, orange, mint

Love the combination of the orange with mint sauce, and the slightly charred octopus was perfectly briny and smoky.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE SEVEN mushroom flight

I wasn’t really expecting much from a mushroom course (give me more meat, I was thinking). But oh man, that dish was one of my favorites of the evening! Simply beautiful – and the mushroom tasted meaty!

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE EIGHT chestnut soup, chestnut crepes with mascarpone, hare

Delicious! We broke out our second bottle for the evening, the ever trusty Merryvale Pinot Noir, which was a great pairing with the soul warming broth.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE NINE chicken, sweetbread ravioli, fennel

The chicken was cooked sous vide, i.e., in a plastic bag, and tasted amazingly tender and smooth. Almost like tofu! Jeff was most interested in it, since he’s been trying to persuade me to buy vacuum pack plastic bags to use at home.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE TEN banana, bacon, peanut sauce, black garlic sauce, peanut brittle

Dessert! Just in time to break out Eric’s favorite dessert wine, the Chateau Tirecul La Graviere “Cuvee Madame” Monbazillac. We tried the 1996 vintage; apparently the 1995 is so exceptional it retails for around $150 online for a 500ml bottle. Beautiful nose of apricots, honey, and spice. Oh, and the bacon wrapped banana with garlic sauce was amazing. I think that’s a winning combination right there. I’ve never seen a dish go wrong with bacon, banana, and/or garlic!

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE ELEVEN venison, cranberry, pecan, sassafras

Two ways of cooking venison – via sous vide and over the stove top in generous butter gravy. Both were delicious.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE TWELVE sugar-cured egg yolk, rum ice cream, sweet spice

Everyone at the table were in rapture over this. I’d thought the “egg breakfast” at Moto, peach puree dressed up to look like a fried egg, was exceptional, but this real egg yolk is simply incredible! We asked chef Brochu, and he cured the egg yolk in sugar for 3 hours.

From December 2011 El Ideas

COURSE THIRTEEN chocolate ganache, white chocolate, aerated white chocolate

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One thought on “El Ideas

  1. Pingback: New Year’s Eve at El Ideas « grapeful

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