There's a little restaurant on Halsted called Boka that I'd been meaning to try for a long time, and not just because it is in such close proximity to Alinea that you can practically smell their food through it's jet black exterior...
Boka. It's been around for a few years. Food and Wine named Chef Guiseppe Tentori one of 2008's "Best Chefs." We had a good meal, not great, with a few exclamation marks punctuating the evening.
The first really fantastic things were the cocktails. Dave had a kiwi sour with fresh kiwi puree. It had little black seeds floating at the top. He ordered it hoping it would be really sour. When I tried it, my face nearly caved in on itself from puckering my lips. I had a Dark and Stormy, a rum cocktail mixed with ginger beer. It was sweet, tangy, and refreshing.
Beets are one of Dave's favorite things, so we ordered the beet salad with yuzu, walnuts, and bacon. Our salad arrived split onto two plates, with vibrant red beet puree artfully smeared under chunks of yuzu that were sprinkled with bacon so fine it could have been dust. A bit of frisee added to the crunch of the nuts, and a generous dash of black pepper balanced out all of the sweetness of the fruit and veg. Beautiful to look at, beautiful to eat.
The highlight of the meal award goes to pastry chef Elizabeth Dahl. We shared a Meyer lemon-tarragon cake. The souffle cake was sliced and grilled, the outside harboring a delicate crunch that yielded to a center that melted away in your mouth. It was topped with candied fennel and blood orange segments. It was the best dessert I've had in months.
The service was impeccable from start to finish. I'm pretty sure that the bread guy called us "dudes." His laid back attitude helped to lighten a very formal mood.
I'll go back to Boka to sit at the bar with a drink and dessert.