Chicago. It used to represent all things bad to me. The Company my mom works for is headquartered there and she would frequently make trips to Chicago, which at age 6 I associated with the devil.
My feelings have softened since then, but I’ll admit, I really didn’t know a great deal about Chicago besides Grant Achatz. I’ll revisit Chef Achatz in my next post. My fellow food enthusiast and current Chicagoan Winston (aka The Gluttenous JD) gave me a tip to try one of his Chicago favorites, Tru. I booked my reservation a solid month in advance and started my research on this gem.
Tru, which had been an established and heavily awarded restaurant under Rick Tramonto’s leadership, came under Anthony Martin’s executive order in 2010. This dude is not messing around. For Pete’s sake, the man rides a modified Kawasaki ZX-10 motorcycle to work. Chef Martin has garnered the restaurant four stars from The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times, and Chicago Magazine, a Michelin one star rating, a Five Diamond Award from AAA, and a handful of James Beard nominations. Like I said, not messing around.
Always swept up in the moment, I spontaneously selected the Chef’s Collection. After partaking in an extensive tasting menu at Alinea the night prior, Mr. E and I loosened our trousers and prepared for another high calorie adventure.
Gougères au comté
Housemade brioche and parmesan crisps
Lemon mousse with roasted fennel puree (oh hey, Mr. E!)
White sturgeon “caviar”, avocado, hazelnut
Array of river salmon
English pea soup, below 0° lavender crème fraîche
Dashi flan, California sturgeon caviar, edamame, yuzu kosho
Fava bean cappelletti, black forest ham, pea shoots
Alaskan halibut, petits pois in ginger fumet, hon-shimeji mushroom
Jidori chicken + rosemary, fiddleheads, foie gras
Choice of: cow, goat + sheep’s milk cheeses
Laundry out to dry (or what I like to call very fancy fruit rollups)
Vanilla parfait, compressed pineapple, banana compliments of george
Choice of sweets – I selected a decadent truffle and a mango jelly
Chocolate, liquid cinnamon, topped with gold leaf
The collection was a very nicely designed journey that showcased Chef Martin’s talents. It was delicious, playful, and thought provoking. I especially loved the “caviar” dish. If you haven’t already, check out the video linked above of Chef Martin showing how he concocts those little sturgeon pearls.
A surprising dish was the pea soup, a pleasant nod to the sweetness of spring/early summer’s bounty. I was scared when I heard lavender. I had a case of the fear of the unknown, aka eating something that tastes like the smell of my hand cream. The chilled soup, poured table side, was an utterly refreshing way to cut some of the richness of the meal. The only real downer for me was the dashi flan. The flan was a gorgeous texture, but unfortunately the dashi flavor seemed misplaced to me for this dish. I took a mouthful and left the rest. I know. Blasphemy.
Mr. E midnights as a magician and has a few neat tricks up his sleeve. He brought his usual deck of cards with him and performed some of his chance magic on our waiters. We made a handful of new friends among the waitstaff and even scored a tour of the kitchen after dinner.
Harrington, Summer, and Michael – you guys rock!
Mr. E’s tricks earning brownie points from me and an MVP diner award from Tru
Blurry pic of Chef Martin (psyched I said hi to you!)
This experience may have warmed me up ever so slightly to Chicago. I’m always a New York lover, but Chicago can certainly cozy up next to me any time. Thank you Tru and Chef Martin. We left with fun memories and very full bellies.
676 N St. Clair St
Chicago, IL 60611