The Boarding House

720 N Wells StChicago, IL 60654 • (312) 280-0720 • boardinghousechicago.com

If I were just reviewing the chandeliers this place would receive a resounding 5 knives, because they are both stunning. Impressive in both size and beauty they each cover roughly 75% of the ceiling footprint on their respective floors. Over the bar on the first floor, the chandelier is made up of thousands of wine glasses, whereas the one upstairs in the dining room is made up of just as many wine bottles (pictured). Fortunately Chicago isn’t on a fault line or I would’ve been very nervous about being crushed beneath them.

The theme of the chandeliers is very intentional as I understand it, the restaurateur being well known for their skill at compiling a killer wine list. And judging from the bottle of wine I had, I’d say I have to concur.

Sadly, a little more attention toward the food might be nice, because I found everything to be pretty average.

The baby octopus appetizer was shockingly bland regardless of its rather inventive preparation, sporting two of my favorite things on earth, shishito peppers and chorizo. But somehow they managed to find the least spicy versions I’ve ever encountered.

Then, the mahi entrée came it is was so overcooked and dry that I only bothered to eat half of it. Served over an equally overcooked risotto. In hindsight I probably should’ve sent it back, but after the appetizer my confidence was waning that they would ever get it right. And besides, I’m always a bit reticent to send shit back to the kitchen, because pissing off the chef is a surefire way to wind up with Ebola on your plate.

So, after the lackluster food we decided to forego dessert in favor of after dinner drinks instead, since that is clearly their forte. And chandeliers.

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Hawksworth

801 W Georgia St. Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7 Canada(604) 673-7000 hawksworthrestaurant.com

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According to the concierge in the Rosewood Hotel, this is one of the top restaurants in Vancouver, and from my very limited sampling, you’ll find no argument here. And trust me, if there was an argument to be had, I’m you’re guy. But Hawksworth does just about everything right. From service with poise to a décor that feels contemporary and elegant. To one of the best eggs benedict’s (pictured) I’ve ever had, made with thick glazed ham and perfectly poached eggs sided with a wonderful roasted tomato and equally delicious potatoes. Even the fresh squeezed orange juice was a box-checker.

There is one shocker I will note, though. The chef’s recommendation was to serve the eggs cooked medium. But to be fair, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong. So I’m going to go ahead and give Hawksworth 4 knives, mostly because I’ve only had breakfast here, and that was only great because I zagged from the chef’s propensity to overcook his benny.

4 teeth

Kahwet Fairuz

Karakol bostan sokak No:13, 34367 İstanbul • (0212) 219 6530
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I loved this place walking in and hated it walking out. Reason primarily being my own fault I suppose. I clearly had baklava on the brain and when we stopped here for teatime, we should’ve just walked back out when we saw they didn’t carry any regionally authentic desserts. But nooooo, me and my stubborn ass just had to see if a Lebanese place could actually pull off a decent cheesecake. Well, I think we all knew the answer before the plate ever hit the table, but the depths to which this cheesecake sank are only rivaled by the core of the Earth.

And while it may seem unfair to throw a place under the bus from such a minute sampling, if you clearly ask the server to suggest the single best thing on the menu and he says “the cheesecake,” it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the food if their best is the worst.

On the plus side, however, I must give props to the decorator. The place is simply impeccable when it comes to detail and charm. Not a inch of this place went without thought from the fez lighting to the upside down hand mirrors to the bright colors and hookah centerpieces. Which brings me to an observation… I think the restaurateurs of Istanbul have handily cracked the code on how to make a place look cool. Now they just need to get their acts together and hire chefs worth their salt, because in four days we didn’t eat a single meal north of three knives.

2 teeth

 

The Ultimate Foie Gras (Seared)

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For me, foie gras in the seared form is almost categorically an Ultimate. So fucking good it actually requires profanity. And so much better than terrine I’m not even sure why the pate version exists. It’s like watching an SD channel on your HDTV when you know full well that you have an HD version of the same exact station! Why? Yes, these are the things that keep me up at night.

But as remarkable as seared foie gras is, that blessing is also a curse, because it means chefs have to go above and beyond to stand out from the entry level awesome. Here are two brilliant examples of exactly that.

Animal – West Hollywood, CA

If you are as into foie gras as I am, you’ve probably realized that pairing it with an element of sweetness is a common go to among chefs, so much so that it has become table stakes. So, Animal decided to go one better, forgoing the jams and reductions in favor of a down home Southern preparation, placing the foie gras on a buttermilk biscuit with maple syrup gravy drizzle over the top. It sounds insane, I know. And it is… Insanely good. In fact, it’s so fan-friggin-tastic I think it single handedly overturned California’s ban on foie gras. Sorry geese, but sometimes you have to take one for the team. Oh come on, don’t be offended. Geese are nasty creatures and you know it. They had it coming. (I probably I just lost a follower or two, didn’t I?).

Blue Hill – New York, NY

This is the one and only time I have ever seen foie gras in the form of soup and I can’t speak highly enough about the unrivaled, unbridled joy it elicited. Forget Coke, I’d like to buy the world a foie gras consommé.

Made in a broth of the liver itself, filled with chunks of seared foie gras and earthy mushrooms. Such a treat in the winter and also worthy of an Ultimate Hot Soup distinction.