Monday, January 29, 2007

Cafe Des Architectes

This morning when I said good bye to my old kitchen, I cried a little. Don't judge me.

Last night Brian took me to Cafe des Architectes in Sofitel and we had an amazing meal. The chefs introduced a new menu very recently, and there were a lot of very interesting options.

The space is very modern, and there are several touches that appeal to its name. The tables are drafting tables. The silverware balances precariously on its side (the knives don't lie flat on the table - they are perpendicular). It's a visually explosive place.

The chef started us out with an sampling of appetizers:
Tuna tartar with red wine and persimmon reduction and fried plantain chip - had a great sweetness
Oyster and cucumber shooter with vodka - very creamy and refreshing
Diver scallop with trio of roe and seaweed salad - very pleasant, although Brian liked the seaweed salad a lot more than I did
Venison tataki - so good, the best of the four appetizers - perfectly seared on the outside and tender on the inside

The chef sent out a salad next. Spinach with Asian pears, blue cheese, blood oranges, and candied pistachios with blood orange vineagrette. I usually hate salads and pass on them altogether, and am not a big fan of blue cheese, but this was fabulous. The flavors went together so well, and the various crisps and crunches of the fruits and nuts...I would have no problem eating salad for every meal of the day if they could all be this good.

We had a chance to settle a bit when the chef sent out a resting course. An apple flavored digestif and a gingery, slightly minty granite were both very light and did their job. We were ready to eat more.

I chose the Crispy suckling piglet for my main couse, partially because it was called "piglet" rather than pork, and partially because our server highly recommended it. The presentation was daunting. It was a very generous portion of meat. It looked like the first through ninth lumbar vertebrae of a full grown pig, rather than a piglet. The skin was crispy and sauced with a sweeter, much more sophistcated version of barbeque sauce. It was served with caramelized shallots, gnocchi, and mushrooms in the same sauce. Out of this world.

Brian had Austrailian rack of lamb, which came with Tuscan white beans and some kind of a nondescript mash. The lamb was very nice, and pared well with the beans.

We drank a bottle of Bordeaux Merlot that the chef pared with our meals. It was good. Neither of us can remember what it was.

Brian is constantly indulging my need for dessert. Even though we were both stuffed, we ordered two items. Brian had a vanilla creme with raspberry gelee and some kind of chilled tea with some other kind of cream. I don't remember a whole lot about his because I was going crazy over my pick. I ordered toasted pistachio brioche. It was topped with ruby red grapfruit and served with vanilla custard. It was so simple - just toasted bread, a little fruit, a few nuts, and a bit of custard. It knocked my socks off. I couldn't identify the garnish, and was curious, so the pastry chef came out and told us that it was just a tuile (basically a butter cookie). It was translucent, paper thin. I've never seen one any where near that thin before. It gave the dessert a gorgeous look.

I was uncomfortably full when we left, but that's my own fault. It's too bad this restaurant is in a hotel, as I am sure that it is overlooked by Chicagoans all the time.


thebza said...

vive le chef gilles arzur!!! a great chef AND a nice guy - who knew that was possible???

i "indulge your need for dessert"??? whatever, pork girl.

i'll take my bucket-o-venison tatki now!


At it again Jen said...

Make sure I'm on your guest list if you happen to be making a recipe from Olive magazine. It was good to see you last night.