Every month or so, my friend Kristin and I try to get together for a girls-only dinner downtown. Usually dinner is preceeded by photos of her adorable puppy, who is getting bigger before our eyes!
He's such a cute puppy... and he just keeps getting bigger! Anyway, after a wardrobe change and a glass of wine (ok, 2) we headed out to Cafe de Architectes, which you may recognize from Adam and my Chicago weekend. My sister is the assistant pastry chef for the whole Sofitel hotel (where the restaurant is located) and we decided to go try it out again.
When Adam and I went, it was Chicago Restaurant Week and the menu wasn't the norm. Then, not long after that, the new executive chef Greg Biggers took over. The menu is now completely different, and I was beyond excited to try it out.
FIrst thing, we ordered drinks in celebration of my officially being granted tenure in my school district!
A pomegranate martini? Yes please!
The bread basket was amazingly delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed the cheese flatbreads. There was a green olive tapenade and sweet French butter as well.
We decided to do a cheese platter as an appetizer (as opposed to a dessert), and we chose two cheeses and allowed our server to choose another for us. It was a surprising treat to have tiny madelines and a macaron on the plate as well. Those were all mine as Kristin doesn't mix sweet and savory.
Front to back: Chevre Noir (a medium-soft goat cheese); Langres (a soft cow's milk cheese); brie de meaux (a rich creamy brie)
And an amuse bouche arrived as well: house-cured salmon atop a blini
I opted for the Chef's Market Selection dinner, which consisted of three small courses. A ricotta gnocchi with butternut squash and parmiggiano reggiano
I really could've just had this for dinner. The gnocchi were perfectly fluffy, and the butternut squash was sweet without tasting like pie (a common complaint of mine. Squash =/= pie!)
Next, a braised short rib with carrot emulsion and red wine jus:
The short rib was rich and flavorful without being overly fatty; fresh broccoli rabe was a pleasant surprise, but my favorite bit was the carrot emulsion. Never in my life have I had a sauce that was so silky smooth and rich tasting.
Kristin ordered a lovely halibut that came with foam and vegetables, but I didn't get a photo... she said it was absolutely delicious.
Technically, I was to have chosen a dessert with my three courses, but I let my sister Leigh do that for me. And did she ever...
First, two small bowls arrived.
That's a liquid milk chocolate-caramel on the bottom, topped by decadent caramel corn and feuilletine crunch, and the whole thing is topped with popcorn sherbet. POPCORN SHERBET (yes, you read that right)
The chocolate in the chocolate-caramel is one that's new to the U.S. and it's some of the best I've ever had.
Well, the best until this arrived... a dark chocolate box, which the server promptly poured melted chocolate onto. It's made from Valrhona Araguani chocolate, another chocolate that's new to the US. (Leigh, please correct me if I'm wrong!)
The warm chocolate melted the shell of the box, which revealed a rich chestnut mousse on the inside. Also on the plate was brioche ice cream and fig.
And then, a new dessert which Leigh described as a giant crunch bar. There was a dark chocolate-coffee center, Bailey's white chocolate mousse, and crunchy white chocolate on the outside with caramel on the plate (I'm pretty sure I got some of that wrong...) But the dessert? Completely right.
And, in the background there, an assortment of chocolates and macaron, which as you know, Leigh makes the best I've ever had.
And, because we were celebrating, a dessert drink. Kristin got port, and I was ordered something called the "Lime in the coconut."
It was during dessert that the couple sitting next to us asked me why I was photographing everything, and when I told them I'm a blogger, they asked for my card!
Needless to say, we took a taxi back to Kristin's place, I drank about 4 bottles of water and hung out for a couple hours before I felt safe enough to drive home.
I can't wait to try more from Chef Biggers' menu. The tasting I had left me delighted and wanting to try everything else. Leigh, thank you again for a truly phenomenal dessert experience!
Now today, I'm off to the zoo to shoot my good friend Christina's engagement photos! Hopefully she'll let me share a few!
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