Monday, February 21, 2011

Dining Out in Chicago: Bonsoirée

For a belated Valentine's Day celebration, my boyfriend Mike and I decided to splurge and treat ourselves to the Eight Course Chef's Tasting ($85/person) at Michelin starred Bonsoirée restaurant in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood.

Based on my experience there, I recommend Bonsoirée for a relaxing, decadent evening that proved to be very Vegetarian friendly!

I simply indicated upon making my reservation that I needed an ovo-lacto vegetarian meal and they took care of it from there, providing me with 8 courses that were perfectly in synch with what my meat-loving counterpart was served. Aside from clever switches, such as swapping out rabbit for purple cauliflower in the gnocchi course, we were both served the same meal which was a rare and pleasant experience for me.

But perhaps my favorite thing about Bonsoirée is its style of "approachable fine-dining". The food is top notch and is clearly the focus, spotlighted by ceramics hand-selected in Japan, but the restaurant's vibe was far from intimidating. We entered through an unmarked door, our BYOB wine in hand, into a cozy dining room with only enough chairs for 26 guests at a time. Our server was incredibly knowledgeable yet down-to-earth and paced our meal perfectly, giving us detailed descriptions course by course.

The food was incredibly rich, but the portions were sized so that we felt satisfied, not stuffed. The restaurant's website describes it's food as seasonal American with "Japanese presentation with French techniques". I would agree with their description based on the comforting flavors with the creamy decadence of French cuisine merged with Asian accents like pickled radishes and street food dumplings.

Read on to see more about each course...

A rich and decadent Gnochhi with braised purple cauliflower and fresh

-A savory Porcini Mushroom Bisque garnished with crispy beets, asparagus slaw, Bread n' Butter, and Umami paste.
-The Bread n' Butter was a tiny roll topped with liquefied butter encased in a gel. It needs to be eaten all in one bite so the butter will spill into your mouth (not your lap!) as you eat the bread. Wow.
-Umami, the fifth taste (after Sweet, Sour, Salty, and Bitter) was such a unique taste that after several thoughtful bites I still couldn't' describe it!

A "Takoyaki" Japanese Street Food dumpling surrounded by Brussel Sprouts, "Breakfast" Radishes, Japanese Eggplant, and White-Chocolate dipped pumpkin.

-Aside from the
shell, Can you tell the difference between the Seafood vs Vegetarian"Motoyaki"s?
-While my vegetarian dish left out the Scallops & Crab, it was full of melt-in-my-mouth cream
y flavor and diced vegetables and was my favorite of all the courses.
I'd say "creaminess" is what Bonsoirée does best!

Pan-Roasted Tofu w
ith Blood Orange Polenta, Date and Parsnip Cutney, and a Lotus Chip

This Japanese plate looks like it's a wooden canoe, but it's actually ceramic.

A play on 'Winter Stew'. Tofu with sweet potato puree, carrot-corn salsa, and winter root vegetables

Okay, so they aren't perfect. They served tofu twice in a row, and should have used their thinking caps more.

Unbelievably rich cheesecake
made of a triple creme cow's milk cheese with a panna cotta top, graham crust, crystalized spearmint, and preserved strawberry. So full of flavor that it felt like I ate an entire slice, not just a tiny 1-inch square!

EIGHTH COURSE - Dessert #2
A play on Peanut Butter and Jelly. Our server encouraged us to try mixing and matching the different elements in each bite. How fun! I made countless combinations out of the Carmelized Brioche (center), Raspberry-RedPepper Jelly (center), Banana Brulee (upper left), Chocolate Truffle (upper right), Fresh Raspberry with Chocolate chips (lower left) and Macadamia Nut Butter (lower right)

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