If I had to pick a favorite meal from this trip to Chicago, top honors would go to Chef Jared Wentworth’s Longman & Eagle. It’s a whiskey bar that happens to have really good fucking food. What more could I ask for?
Recipient of a Michelin star for four straight years and counting (2011 to 2014), Longman & Eagle is my kind of place.
The food is creative and delightful, while the mood is perfectly chill. Best of all, the fare is more than fairly priced. It’s impossible not to fall hard for L&E’s charms, especially with a few $3 whiskies working their way through one’s system.
Behind the stoves are Executive Chef and Partner Jared Wentworth and Chef de Cuisine Matthew Kerney. The forward food is sometimes dreamed up while under the influence:
I think smoking a little weed makes the creative process better, especially for food. But it’s all based in classical French techniques, and then I start putting twists on things from there. – Jared Wentworth
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Another day, another doughnut. Such is life while visiting Chicago! My third and final deep-fried adventure took me to Do-Rite Donuts, a chef-driven concept opened in early 2012 by Jeff Mahin and Francis Brennan.
Previously, Chef Brennan ran the kitchen at three-star Michelin rated L2O, while Chef Mahin served as chef-partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, opening Stella Barra Pizza and M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica.
Do-Rite serves up to twelve varieties of doughnuts every day using premium and seasonal ingredients. As a bonus, the kitchen is supposedly equipped with only two small fryers, which means that the chances of receiving a warm doughnut on each visit are very good.
We stopped in one afternoon to a limited selection and not-so-warm doughnuts, unfortunately.
From the varieties on hand, we selected three of Do-Rite’s signature buttermilk old fashioneds. The doughnut’s unique “flowering” effect is achieved by flipping the dough three times during deep frying.
The first old fashioned was glazed with dark Valrhona chocolate icing…
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I love how Chicago’s restaurants embrace excess, highlighting meat and fat in every form at all meals and price points. Sure it’s indulgent, reckless even, but under a thoughtful chef’s care, this kind of cooking can be exhilarating. See: Avec, Little Goat, and Au Cheval.
Sometimes though, especially after a few days of glorious extravagance, all I desire is the comfort of a warm bowl of noodle soup. Hello, Yusho.
Owned and operated by Chef Mathias Merges, formerly the Executive Chef at Charlie Trotter’s for fourteen years, Yusho is a “a yakitori-inspired restaurant.” The space was designed by Merges’s wife, Rachel Crowl.
The menu here is usually focused on grilled meats on a stick, but Sundays are dedicated to noodles. The special Sunday Noodles menu is priced at $20 per guest and includes a bowl of noodles, dessert, and a beverage. It was just what The Astronomer and I were craving after going balls to wall for meals on end.
We both selected alcoholic drinks to pair with our noodles. For me, a frothy coconut, lime, and rum “kegged cocktail” that was available on draught. Every sip whisked my taste buds off to somewhere warm and tropical.
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With its tremendous reputation, tiny space (just 1,400-square-feet), and no reservation policy, Au Cheval is one of the more difficult seats to snag in Chicago. After failing to score a table without a tortuously long wait several evenings in a row, I decided that dining right when the doors opened at 11 AM was my best bet. Sure enough, I was seated without a hitch at that early an hour.
Opened in 2012 by restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff (Gilt Bar, Doughnut Vault, Maude’s Liquor Bar, Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf), Au Cheval is the quintessential upscale diner. Sodikoff and Executive Chef Jason Vaughan (L20, A16) have dreamed up a sensational menu featuring updated diner classics and globally-influenced fare. The execution is phenomenal, surprising and delighting diners at every turn.
Joining The Astronomer and me for our super-early lunch was our friend Britta. More bellies means more smiles and more food—everyone wins!
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