Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Taking in More Views and Tastes of Chicago

One of my Chicago bucket list items for the longest time was to have dinner up on The Terrace at Trump and watch the fireworks over Navy Pier. It didn’t go exactly as planned, but it did turn out even better than I expected.

I was with Cocktails and Joints publisher Dale Winespeare for some meetings (and eating) in Chicago. We were staying at The Trump and had plans for dinner at The Terrace. Unfortunately, it was a windy night and it was closed off, but we ended up with a tour that finished in front of a perfect window table., which still provided a perfect view.

We didn’t have to make any decisions as Executive Chef Michael Fiddler was ready with a sampling of the menu he created for the summer season. We started with some cocktails from the creative menu, I with a delicious Exotic Ginger (Belvedere, St. Germain, Cointreau, muddled ginger, white cranberry juice and lime) and Dale with a Berry Genever (Bols Genever, lilac, lemon and muddled blackberry) he really enjoyed.

My first taste turned out to be my very favorite item on the table. The Garden Salwich was a combination of burrata, fried eggplant, pequillo, pesto, tomato compote, arugula and smoked olive oil aioli on a grilled polenta bread, drizzled with balsamic. It was filled with fresh ingredients.

At first I thought the sliders and potatoes sounded a bit boring as compared to some of the other offerings, but when I tasted these Wagyu Beef concoctions with Prairie cheddar cheese and homemade ketchup, served with potatoes in blue cheese, I quickly changed my mind.

Dale got to try the fish dishes, which included Thai Fish Tacos. The fish was in a curry sauce that also had papaya and coconut milk. He really liked them, but not as much as the Lobster Babies. These lobster sandwiches contain shallots and tarragon for an extra special taste.

Before we had actual dessert, we tried some of the Adult Ice Pops. I thought the Passion Colada was a bit too sweet, but the Sangria Rouge was excellent, as was everything in the next course, from the Mandarin Vanilla Float (Goose Island Vanilla Soda and Combier Orange Liquor) to the Caramel Nutella Cones (with Twelve Caramel Ice Cream and salted hazelnuts).

I stayed in a one bedroom suite at The Trump for the night, working out in the morning and holding off on breakfast for our next stop – Glazed and Infused.  It’s not difficult to get me to have any type of cake for breakfast, though no one has ever presented me with a selection like this! Pastry Chef Christine McCabe presented us with a selection of doughnuts like I’ve never seen before. Then she sat down to explain about how she uses natural ingredients, fresh fruits and makes the doughnuts so they absorb less of the Tran fat free oil.

The feast in front of me contained Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache; Old Fashioned Buttermilk; Raspberry Jelly-Filled; Peanut Butter & Jelly; Luscious Lemon (Dale’s Favorite); Apple Fritter; Crème Brulee; Chocolate Four (my favorite); and Maple Bacon Long John (the customers’ favorite).

I was happy to have a few hours to walk and work before my final meal of this Chicago trip. That last eatery was Mercat a la Planxa inside the Blackstone Hotel. It was my second experience eating at a Chef Jose Garces restaurant.  (I ate at Distrito while in Scottsdale).  Like that restaurant, Mercat a la Planxa had a menu filled with unusual Latin food and drinks. 

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