With all of the hubbub surrounding Ria lately, I figured now would be a good time for a reminder that it’s not the only restaurant in the Elysian Hotel. Balsan, the sophisticated bistro located across the hall from Ria, deserves some accolades too, and I’m pleased to report that the menu has yet to suffer from the sudden departure of Chef Jason McLeod. On the contrary, the food still shines and is what it ever was. I’ve been a steady customer there since it opened, and I’ve never had a bad meal there including an impromptu lunch just last week. Not to mention that the food rings in at a lower price-point than Ria so it’s likely a more approachable option for many.
I feasted on a burger topped with onion and Gouda paired with the best fries I’ve had in recent memory. What’s the secret? They’re soaked in beef fat. Then, I splurged on dessert and had a thick butterscotch custard topped with whipped cream and butter cookies. OMG the calories! But I ate the entire thing by myself and will never regret it.
The service was just as good as the food — attentive but not overly so — and the whole experience was a good reminder to me that it takes a team to build and maintain a successful restaurant operation — not just an up-and-coming big name. I sincerely hope that the folks at Balsan keep up the good work. You should certainly swing by for a bite or two.
Speaking of reminders, it’s restaurant week (as if you foodies really needed reminding)! Be sure to get out there and dine, push your comfort zone and try something new. My restaurant week list this year includes visits to some places new-on-the-scene as well as a trip to an old favorite. Watch our Twitter stream for details, and my more in-depth restaurant week reviews begin tomorrow. Until then, happy dining! Would love to hear where you’ve tried so far!
11 East Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60611-1408