Monday, May 19, 2008

Chicago Eats - Charlie Trotter's

The most expensive and, indeed, best dinner we experienced took place at Charlie Trotter’s. The subdued unassuming brick entrance still displayed the most amazing and colorful flowers.

When we arrived, everyone thanked us for being there from the host, to the numerous wait staff, to Charlie Trotter himself (yes, he was there and he stopped by our table to say hello!). We booked a 6 PM reservation via Open Table and they remembered that we were celebrating our anniversary (and even made sure that our menus were placed in an envelope to carry back to our hotel). A small bar welcomed us since we arrived slightly early. The host presented us with the 2 inch thick wine menu to peruse. There was an extraordinary amount to drool over. We ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and focused our attention on the wine list under $75, which turned out to be quite a few. We were seated in the first dining room. A presentation table/wait staff station filled the middle of the room with dining tables surrounding it. There were no more than 10 tables. Very quiet atmosphere with tasteful décor that did not overshadow the food. The restaurant offered a Vegetable and Grand Tasting menu. And in reviewing the set menu our waitress wanted to reassure us that if we had any allergies, questions, or just any concerns about the menus items, the chefs would be more than willing to accommodate us. She said this with no pretension whatsoever, putting us totally at ease. One of the course featured lamb and they happily substituted Angus tenderloin.

We ordered a 2004 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Papes for the evening (which was less expensive on Trotter’s menu than another eatery downtown). The staff decanted and poured the wine as we needed it for the entire evening. The menu itself was peppered with a few inventive features – sea water jelly with an oyster, a sumptuous slightly soft egg yolk that had been slow cooked for six hours with buttermilk basted chicken poulardes, and thyme foam with the stewed rhubarb dessert. And the service was impeccable – probably the best service I’ve had in the US and, indeed, service that would rival Parisian restaurants.

Of course the food was exquisite and inventive. I ate oysters and cod, which I never eat, and I wanted more. The desserts were divine. The last chef who could feed me absolutely anything was Chef Schadler at the Williamsburg Inn.

Here is what we enjoyed:

Village Bay Oyster with Sea Water and Cucumber

Four Story Hills Farm Poularde with Sesame, Thumbelina Carrot and Elephant Garlic

Steam Line Caught Maine Cod with Mussels, English Peas and Pork Cheek

Roasted Squab Breast with Hazelnut, Pearl Onion Marmalade and Cocoa Nib

Crawford Farm Lamb Loin with Tortellini, Dried Plum and Salt Baked Rutabaga (I had the Angus Beef with Blood Sausage Sauce)

Nigorizake Sorbet with Asian Pear and Jasmine Rice

Stewed Rhubarb with White Chocolate Yogurt and Coriander Shortbread

Venezuelan Chocolate Custard with Kaffir Lime, Grilled Cactus and Agavero Jelly

Indonesian Chocolate with Pine Nut and Pandan Broth


Trio of Assorted Candy including a petite Caramel-filled Chocolate Cup

What a delicious evening!


John Hendron said...

Thanks for your review of Trotter's. I wanted to go during my last visit to chicago, but never made it. Your review will inspire a return visit, I'm sure...

I did get to eat at MOTO, with their inventive, curious cuisine... I liked that... but Trotter seems much more mainstream.

Laser Hair Removal Chicago said...

Perhaps the loveliest restaurant experience I have ever had. Exquisite food and wine and perfect service. The Saturday night kitchen tour with Mrs. Trotter and a long, friendly chat with the Chef himself made it an unforgettable evening.