Yup, Telegraph was as good as advertised. It has received a lot of attention and was on Chicago Magazine's Top 20 for 2012. The theme is euro wine bar with american food, and the setting is awesome with wood everywhere, clean lines, very knowledgeable and friendly staff and plenty of choices for food/drink. The menu is simple with just four relatively small sections: hors d’oeuvre, fish, meat and cheese (and dessert of course). However, the relative small size of the menu is more than made up for with high quality and interesting flavors throughout. The first main decision is wine, and there is no shortage of options. I don't mind that they avoid the 'flight' style of wine bar - just order a glass or bottle and explore the variety of options. I got the lucky invite to join Doug and Mish Malcolm on this adventure and we started the night by making another friend named Judith. She just happens to be an Austrian wine from 2009 'judith beck' (a great springtime red, medium-full bodied, w/dark rhubarb, leafy greens and peppery spice). It was delicious and perfect for the occasion. We enjoyed the small plate style and ordered a bunch of stuff and one thing twice (meatballs!). Oysters were only $1 each so we did a half dozen in addition to trying the baby kale salad (their version of a caesar), pork and beef meatballs, seared scallops, housemade fettuccine with rabbit, and finally olive oil poached albacore tuna (and we also ordered another round of meatballs for good measure).
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
A month ago we went to check out Nellcote, the new beautiful space on Randolph from the same guys that did Old Town Social. I didn't know exactly what to expect but everything I had heard about the large space with white and orange accents and wood everywhere was as cool and fun as advertised. There's a few different sections inside including a very long/large attractive bar (appeared to have full food service), main dining area, high tops, and larger group seating options a few steps above and behind the bar. It's a large space that doesn't feel large though. We opted for the small but sufficient patio for some al fresco dining on a warm summer night. I really like the menu layout and presentation because it's simple and straightforward but has many options. The drink options are also quite extensive with beer, wine and everything else. On the two page menu you choose from cocktails, pizzas and then everything else ordered from plate size small to large. The only problem is that the food wasn't very good outside of the pizza we tried. They started with a complimentary cold asparagus soup, which was fine but needed salt. We ordered the broccoli and sausage pizza, shaved asparagus salad, hamachi 'crudo', organic salmon and glazed skate wing. The pizza was excellent and worth ordering again and trying others. The salad was ok but also could use some salt/seasoning - the cheese and oil kept me going. Hamachi was tasty served with apricots, fresh and clean with a nice summer flavor. The salmon and skate wing were both uninspiring, especially the skate wing served in a presentation I have never seen before that made eating the fish almost impossible (and undesirable).
Thursday, July 5, 2012
By far one of the more interesting meals I've had in Chicago was eating a whole pig at The Frontier with 13 of my friends. They have a great program of "large format meals" that serve anywhere from 8-15 people (the menu isn't available online at the time of this writing). The animals offered for the 12-15 people are lamb, pig, goat and even alligator (stuffed with chicken I've heard). It's a great way to get a lot of people together and fed and enjoy the show. The meal also comes with plenty of sides including a large caesar salad, mac and cheese, succotash and corn bread. All of this costs $550 plus tax and tip (and if you go early in the week they currently offer $100 off). It's a great value if you fill the seats where you can eat like a king for $40 all in and still take home pounds of food (we ate pork for the rest of the week).