Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chicago Eats - Blue Duo

While Charlie Trotter’s epitomized the zenith of our dining experiences in Chicago, we did enjoy many other places at a lower cost. Two of them we discovered at the Toast of the Town wine tasting: bluprint and Blue Water Grill.

bluprint was located in the Merchandise Mart and was not very busy. We liked the sleek contemporary lines. The restaurant also offered a glass encased area for catered receptions. We began our dinner with a Pama pomegranate and sparkling wine cocktail which was served in a stemless champagne flute. We then mulled over the wine list and the menu. For the wine we ordered a 2003 Tangley Oaks Merlot Napa Valley Lot #7. Very yummy, although our waiter seemed to be a bit green in presenting it. I ordered the wine, but he tried to show it to my husband to approve. So, the restaurant may need to work on its service.

For starters I ordered Kona Kampachi – Hawaiian yellowtail with yuzu, cucumber, tarragon, and strawberry. While in Chicago I developed an affinity for Hawaiian yellowtail and bluprint delivered it with style and inventiveness. In Chicago I was also introduced to yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit which added a slight pucker to the dish. My husband ordered the soup of the day – something pureed, but he can’t remember what it was and I did not write it down. He ate it in any case. For the main course he selected the Smoked Heritage Pork Chop with Anson Mills grits, English peas, and paprika. I ordered Wagyu Sirloin with duck fat potatoes, bacon, baby arugula, and sweet onions. Both were tasty and beautifully presented.

Desserts for us can be hit or miss, but whenever we dine at a decent place, we try to glimpse at the sweets menu in case something strikes us as a “must try.” We saw several “must try” items at bluprint. I ended up ordering Lemon and Blackberry stack with yuzu curd, phyllo, licorice caramel, and tarragon bubbles. The bubbles actually tasted like tarragon – effervescent and herby – simply incredible. I was also really intrigued by the licorice caramel.
My spouse tried the Blueberries and Cream – Cheesecake, blueberries, and lavender meringue. This dessert was even more inventive than mine and just as delicious. The mini-cheesecake had a blueberry white chocolate ball sitting on top of it. My husband cracked the ball with his spoon and out oozed the blueberry sauce.

We greatly appreciated the delicious food as well as the inventiveness. Each course enabled us to explore varying aspects of food and tastes. I hope the place garners more buzz and clientele.

For our last night in Chicago we treated ourselves to Blue Water Grill. This establishment featured a sushi station as well as a well-stocked raw bar. Even though the restaurant has blue in the name, the interior is all black and glass and has an incredible number of security cameras.
We ordered two glasses of Gustav Lorentz Pinot Blanc from Alsace (the restaurant gave us a choice of a 5 or 9 ounce pour) and then decided on a bottle of 2003 Neyers Merlot – Neyers Ranch Conn Valley Napa to consume with the meal.

For starters my hubby had the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. These shrimp were indeed jumbo in size. I had the Fresh Maine Lobster Maki Roll with wasabi tobiko and grapefruit guava gelee. Oh, what yummy goodness! Entrees were a grilled Filet Mignon with roasted fingerling potatoes and hericots verts and pancetta for me and grilled Diver Scallops with sautéed spinach and whipped Yukon gold potatoes for my husband. My fingerling potatoes also featured little dabs of black olive paste.

And dinner would not be complete without dessert. I had the Chocolate Caramel Crunch Bar with hazelnut ice cream, caramel sauce, and black sea salt. The dessert arrived shaped like a brick with the caramel sauce filling the brick holes and drizzling out as I cut into the thing. My spouse chose a selection of house made ice creams and sorbets: Cinnamon Banana sorbet, Mexican Chocolate and Cajeta Swirl ice cream and Coffee and Baileys ice cream. Once again, a fantastic end to a delicious evening.

No comments: