Chicago Restaurant Week 2012

Last weekend we were lucky enough to land in Chicago for the start of restaurant week.  Reservations are a must if you want to take advantage of the prix fixe menus at some of Chicago’s top restaurants for lunch and dinner February 17-26, 2012.  Restaurants around the city are offering three course lunches and dinners for $22 (lunch) and $33 or $44 (dinner).   We started out the weekend with dinner Friday night at Cafe’ des Architectes at the Sofitel Hotel.  What a great way to start the weekend.  We have stayed here before and have enjoyed several great breakfasts here so decided to give dinner a try.  It was a good decision, we weren’t disappointed.  It’s a contemporary French restaurant with great modern décor. It may not have been Andrew’s first choice for a meal but he made the best of it, knowing that Saturday night would be a steak house.

Between the four of us we ordered four different appetizers, 3 of the four entrees, and all 4 of the desserts on the menu.  Katie enjoyed squash soup with duck confit, I went for the roasted beet salad (no surprise there) and Craig had seared lamb rillette served with a quail egg and brioche.  Andrew went for the winter salad with gourmet lettuce, spiced ricotta and braised apples (it was the least “gourmet” item on the appetizer list). Katie and I both had duck breast with eggplant and cauliflower.  It was beautifully prepared and plated and tasted every bit as good as it looked.  Craig enjoyed the Pork Belly and Scallop entrée, I was tempted by that choice but had had a pork belly and eggs for breakfast and try to limit myself to pork belly once per day (more like once every 5 years).  Andrew was the red meat one of the bunch and he had a great looking New York strip steak.

As a group, we don’t often have dessert but the appetizer and entrée portions were small enough that we had room for dessert and of course dessert was included in our fixed price dinner.  So, we tried a bit of each and all four were great and all included ingredients made you remember what a great gourmet meal you were enjoying. We had Hazelnut Dacquoise with banana, apricot and coffee filling; roasted barley with dark chocolate ice cream; Vanilla Honey Parfait and dark chocolate ganache with parsnip ice cream.  The parsnip ice cream was a real surprise.  I loved it, who knew parsnip ice cream would be a hit.

We had a great meal, great wine, and wonderful service.  I really enjoy trying new and different foods so this restaurant was a hit and with its seasonal menu I hope we’ll be back to enjoy another meal soon.

I love beautifully arranged food but do always think of the Julia Child quote, “It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate, you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”  This food was beautiful and so delicious that I wasn’t put off with the thought of someone’s fingers having been all over it.


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