Squid ink cavatelli
*** (3 stars)
While this meal had its ups and downs, let me start by saying that the service was superb. It seemed as if everyone in the restaurant, from the hostess to the bussing staff, the kitchen staff, my waiter Alexis and the manager all personally greeted me and wished me a good meal. And this was before it became evident that I’d been “outed” (the manager stopped by to compliment me on my photos, and I hadn’t yet posted and from Honey’s.)
And it was a good meal, just not a great one. The restaurant certainly is aspiring to greatness, and the classy dining room and chic bar are a good start. The food is just a bit uneven.
The meal begins with complimentary bread service, and the bread was hot, crusty and excellent.
I started with the spit roasted cauliflower, which was an interesting consistency because of the accompanying puree and bread crumbs.
The Caesar salad is a bizarre take on a classic. Grilled romaine is chopped, and tossed with a good Caesar dressing. I’ve enjoyed grilled romaine before, but this seemed more like it was wilted rather than charred. But it was the additional ingredients that went off the rails. Sliced cheese is a trend I can live with, but the pickled shallots and crackers took it too far afield to be called a Caesar. and three large dollops of egg yolk sabayon were about as appetizing as if someone had dumped a jar of mayonnaise on it. In short, don’t order this.
Things got back on track with the squid ink cavatelli. Although the pasta was a bit overcooked, the braised octopus, calamari and shrimp were tender and flavorful, and the mint pesto had a wonderful acidity that elevated the whole dish.
I finished with the satsuma mandarin, a nice light dessert with earl grey cake and mandarin orange sorbet. The double decaf espresso I had was noteworthy only in that it was the single most bitter espresso I’ve every been served!
Prices are okay, but be aware that portions are on the small side, so you will want several courses.
There is an extensive list of eclectic wines, including some thoughtful by-the-glass selections. The rosés go particularly well with most of this menu.
1111 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607