Monday, April 23, 2012

Balena

I know it's been a while since I've written but did not realize it has been three weeks. I guess I needed a break and just some time to find my muse again. There's a lot of good places I still need to write about so say tuned.

One of the newest restaurants to open recently is a partnership between the BOKA group guys and the team from the Bristol. With that kind of pedigree the stakes and expectations are sky high. The space is the former Landmark and the re-concept is stunning. It's huge but doesn't feel overwhelming or cramped. They utilize the sky high ceilings, wood everywhere and have the kitchen on the second level at the top of the stairs on the way to the upstairs dining room. They've done a great job of setting the tone and making you feel like you've left Chicago.

The cuisine is "Italian Inspired" and features a wide range of options with starters, pastas, pizzas, meat from the grill/oven and even table size portions of fish and steak. The entire all star crew from The Bristol is here (chef, pastry and mixologist - all independent award winners) and it felt like they have more freedom and resources to explore than at Bristol. We tried a lot of different things and like everything that came out. Our main concern is that after ordering every appealing dish, there wasn't a lot left to choose from. So even with a menu with many options it felt very limited.

We started with delicious asparagus served with egg and cheese, Spicy Grilled “Korean Cut” Short Ribs and a Spicy Sausage pizza (with Red Onion, Tomato, Mozzarella). We were in a pasta mood for dinner and tried three: Ricotta Ravioli (with Swiss Chard, Brown Butter), Orecchiette (with Lemon, Kale, Bread Crumbs, Chili) and Tajarin with Pork Ragu. Joel went for the meat and ordered the Salt and Pepper Chicken Thighs with Green Garlic, Coriander, and Mustard Greens. We finished the meal with two desserts, gelato with fudge and cookies and warm doughnuts with espresso and gelato. Both great and a nice ending to the meal.












Our food was great and the service was spot on and the value was in line with expectations ($100 per couple all in). We love the decor and vibe and can only imagine how much of a scene it becomes on the hot nights. I wish there were more choices that looked intriguing but if someone asked me to join I certainly wouldn't say no. The partnership between two power players in Chicago appears to be working and I hope they have more ideas to try.

Balena on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...