Hot on the heels of Chicago Restaurant Week comes Chicago Chef Week. The premise is the same: diners can enjoy a three course prix fixe menu comprised of an appetizer, main course and dessert at participating restaurants around the city. Prices are set at $22 for lunch and $39 for dinner, making the event an affordable way to try higher end fare.
The early arrival of Spring has certainly brought back my appetite, and I’m eager to revisit a few of my favorite neighborhood restaurants including Browntrout (4111 N Lincoln Avenue). Not only does Chef Sean Sanders focus on locally grown food, sustainable meats, and seasonal dishes, he takes things a step further and grows herbs on the rooftop garden. Many of the dishes are garnished with house-cured olives or come with condiments made in the kitchen. I usually go with a seafood choice like the Grilled Amberjack, but I’m intrigued by the 5 Ways of the Slagel Goat as well as the Butterscotch Crème Brulée for dessert.
The menu at Table Fifty-Two (52 West Elm) reads like a who’s who of local farmers and producers. That’s because Chef Art Smith has a reputation for producing Southern comfort food with quality touches. My list of things to try and revisit on his menu will involve hard decisions, or more likely, a return visit or two. The Shrimp and Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes, Duck Egg compete for my appetizer choices, and I’ve whittled down the entrees to Barbecue Chicken, Catfish with Hush Puppies, Short Ribs. Dessert is easy though — Hummingbird Cake!
I visited Bistronomic (840 North Wabash) on Sunday to sample the Chef Week Menu, and ended up chucking it in favor of the regular menu options. The cheese selection here proved too tempting as did the Hanger Steak — it came piled high with truffled frites that were made more fabulous dipped au jus. Fortunately, the waiter allowed a return to the special menu for dessert and I was rewarded with a butterscotch creme brulee and pastry concoction that was the perfect end to the meal. If you’re interested in the daily pasta and seafood specials, they’re featured heavily for Chef Week.
If I find the time, I plan to add Allium (120 E. Delaware) and GT Fish & Oyster (531 North Wells) to the list, too. Chicago Chef Week completes its delicious run on March 23, make your reservations today!