My Four Favorite Things: Restaurant Week 2012 Recap

Chicago is in the midst of Chef Week, and if you haven’t had the chance to dig in there’s still room to make a rezzie through this Friday, March 23. I’ve just barely had time to digest last month’s Chicago Restaurant Week, but here are my four favorite bites.

Drinks at Chicago q
Chicago q may have had the week’s best menu. Yet while the hominy, smoked corn and black bean salad and slab of St. Louis baby back were as mouth-watering as expected, it was a cocktail that ultimately won me over. Fusing rye, lemon, OJ, and cinnamon-infused simple syrup, the Orange Blossom Martini offers a spicy, citrusy way to enjoy whiskey that’s all-together too drinkable.

Apps at Bistrot Margot
Old Town’s Bistrot Margot is a mainstay of all classique French fare with charming décor and très generous portions. Simmered in garlic and butter, the satisfyingly briny escargot had me snatching every crumb off the table to soak it up even after the snails were inhaled.

Main at Blackbird
There’s no wrong way to do Blackbird, but the special five-course Restaurant Week tasting menu ($65 rather than the standard $33 or $44) seemed most fitting for my first visit. Choosing a favorite course at Paul Kahn’s gastronomic powerhouse is like choosing the most flavorful movement of an eloquent symphony (or mashup in a dubstep remix if that’s your thing). If you insist, I’ll favor the pekin duck breast. The savory fowl was aged for a week and its slight saltiness rounded out with fuyu persimmon, red wine braised radishes, black beans and sesame.

Dessert at Tapas Valencia
Tapas Valencia may have had somewhat nontraditional tapas service, but in addition to four-course menu the dessert was accompanied with a complimentary glass of cava. After devouring everything set in front of us, the decadent dessert platter of  warm chocolate cake, cheesecake, almond pound cake with pear, strawberries, and ice cream drizzled in caramel seemed daunting. Thankfully we had that cava to wash it down.

For Further Exploration
Chicago Restaurant Week 2011 Recap

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