‘Hunting for Hemingway’ at Kiki’s Bistro

Lamb Stew

The lamb stew is my new fall craving.

Eating and reading are two of my favorite things, so I simply couldn’t resist an invitation to a dinner party last week at Kiki’s Bistro to celebrate the launch of a new mystery novel, “Hunting for Hemmingway” by Diane Gilbert Madsen.  The selection of Kiki’s Bistro lent the whole affair a connection to Hemingway himself since Kiki used to feed the author often, and diners, some of whom came festively dressed in period costume, started off the evening with a signature Hemingway martini in hand.

It had been too long since I’d eaten at Kiki’s, and I’d forgotten how much I love the atmosphere there.  Intimate alcoves, comfy corners, and low lighting inspire a casual, fun, and homey dining room (although that low lighting makes for lousy picture-taking, and my shots just don’t do the room or the food justice).

Diner

Some diners came to dinner with 20s flair.

The food was excellent — much better than I remembered.  Cooked in the classic French style, it seems that literally everything was soaked in butter, but you’ll hear no complaints from me.  We had a three course menu with a few selections from the regular menu to choose from for each course, and I went with the waiters recommendations. For a starter, I feasted on the mushroom fricassee, served in a rich, creamy brown gravy that was a melt-in-your-mouth sort of good.  I sampled the mussels as well, and they were also very tasty but not as good.  Still, the mussel sauce passed inspection — meaning that it was great to dip bread in — and my table mates raved about it.

For my entree I had lamb stew, and here again, the reduction sauce was impeccably done, ultimately blowing the salmon I tried right out of the water!  The steak was also worth a hefty bite or two, and that plate was dominated by an excessive portion of frites. That was a little intimidating but nice to nibble on.

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart.

For dessert we had a lovely chocolate mousse and lemon tart — both hit the mark — and topped them off with a little bubbly and literary chit chat.  My friend Amy and I had the pleasure of sitting with John Berry, the chairman of the Earnest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, and his wife, and as a result my “to read” book pile has grown quite a bit! Not only is Madsen’s novel now on my list, (Who can resist a tale of intrigue woven around the idea of finding the stories and poems Hemingway’s first wife lost on a train in 1922?) but I intend to pick up some of Hemingway’s short stories too.  Hemingway and I have always had an uneasy relationship.  I wasn’t a big fan of “Old Man and the Sea,” but in college I loved “And the Sun also Rises.” After such a delightful evening of food, drink, and conversation — with Hemingway at the heart of it — I’ve decided it’s time we got reacquainted.

We were invited to this event as members of the media and food, books, and book promotional materials were provided free-of-charge.

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