I kid with the title.....it just seems every few months I jump on the scale and start screaming like Bill up there...why? My diet (and budget) was doing really well except then I had to stop by a Paul Kahan establishment and eat myself silly.
Today I did not stop by a Paul Kahan establishment. I stopped by three. It would have been five, but Fran put her foot down.
So here we are.....the first meal was at Blackbird. The $22 Restaurant Week menu. One does not need to rush out to Blackbird for Restaurant Week because there is always a prix fixe for under $25.
Octopus confit appetizer -
The RW menu say sturgeon, but I swear this is salmon....
Duck confit -
The menu seems to be accurate with this, so I'll cut and paste: bittersweet chocolate cremeux with cashews, butternut squash and bergamo
We've been to Blackbird many times in the past....this meal only reaffirmed something I've long thought: Blackbird is, as a restaurant, the best in Chicago. Period. On a budget? Go for lunch. Not a budget? Tasting menu at dinner.
I say "as a restaurant" because other places (Alinea, as an example), might be "better" but they're more "experiences." Look: Blackbird is to Iron Maiden as Alinea is to Gwar. Gwar might be a better "show," but you can travel around the country seeing Maiden multiple times a week and leave every night satisfied.
(I have not traveled around the country seeing Maiden multiple times a week, but I'm throwing this out there to convince my wife that such an idea is an ideal summer vacation. You know who else would be cool to travel around and see a lot? Alice Cooper. You know who's opening for Maiden on their Summer 2012 tour? Oh yeah.)
We finished lunch comfortable...not really wanting more food, but being open to it....we decided to walk over to the brand new Publican Quality Meats which is a deli which offers sandwiches for dine in or to go. We decided to split the "better than a gyros" - a gyros made with pork belly instead of lamb. I ordered it as "we're going to share it" and it was brought out cut in half.....an unexpected, and very pleasant, plating. Kudos.
How was it? Well....I don't want to knock anyone else, but another famous Chicago chef (who I am also a fan of) opened a casual sandwich shop a while back. I think Kahan went to that place a few times, saw everything he did wrong, took notes, and made sure not repeat them.
There is a beer on tap by Three Floyd's called Ham On Rye that I think may be an exclusive...it's strange...it tastes like, well, a ham on rye in beer form. I didn't like it, but I respected it, and therefore I must recommend you try it. Drinks are stupid reasonable with bottles of wine (including the very nice Chateau Grand Traverse Ship of Fools) available for dine in at $5 above retail. .
We wandered, had some coffee, and hit up Avec for dinner....
Chorizo stuffed dates are one of the things Avec is famous for and rightfully so - I've eaten dinner at Avec with a group, we've finished, ordered coffee, people have had dessert, and me? Another order of dates for dessert. The photo is of two, an order has four....
White anchovies on charred flatbread with cucumber and cilantro....
Roasted mussels in ancho chili broth with bacon, kale, and fingerling potatoes.
Cafe avec....a shot of espresso and a shot of armagnac. There are two "must haves" at avec...the chorizo dates and this.
vanilla semifreddo with blood orange gelee and "magic shell"
And there you have it....one day it's going to happen, we're going to hit up every single Kahan place in one day, it will be awesome, and I will end the day full and ten pounds heavier, and it will be worth it.