Every year on our anniversary and birthdays, we try to celebrate the day with the best food we can find in town.
So far we've tried L2O, Tru, Alinea, Charlie Trotters, and Moto. We have concluded that we like L2O and True more than the others, so we found ourselves keep going back but we were ready to find another place for our special day this year and we did.
"Avenues" at the Peninsula Hotel
The Peninsula Hotel is situated near the center of Michigan avenue the Chicago's Magnificent Mile. As I get older, I enjoy and appreciate peace and quiet. (I know I sound really old now!). I don't want to live near the crowded Michigan avenue which we used to many years ago but I do love coming to this area once in a while for an occasional change of scenery and to enjoy the beauty of Chicago downtown. We actually live only 10 minutes away from the center in Bucktown, Chicago's "SoHo" we call it, and we love our hood. I have written more on the Bucktown in one of my previous articles.
The Avenue is located on the 5th floor behind the lobby where it's known for Traditional Afternoon Tea. The ambiance of the restaurant isn't anything outstanding. They didn't decorate the room to have it's own personality or differentiate from the hotel's over all look which is traditional high end 5 star hotel. Actually it kind of looks like one of the party or conference room converted to a restaurant. Unlike Alinea or L2O where they have very impressive kitchens, Avenues uses the bar as part of the food preparation area.
Usually you don't get very full eating from a tasting menu but your eyes are full of curiosity and sparkles looking at all the beautiful and creative presentation on each plate. At the Avenue, we were more than full, we couldn't finish our dessert which means that the portions were definitely more generous than most tasting menus we have had.
The menu is very simple. 8 course Chef's Tasting Menu for 1. Vegetarian or 2. Non-Vegetarian. We both had non-vegetarian option. Starting the first course with Alaskan King Crab with golden brook trout roe, kalamansi, and lemon mint. Second course: Bay Scallops with romaine marmalade, white poppy, nasturtium. Third course: Grains, Seeds, Nuts with amaranth veil, sultana, and sunflower. Fourth course: Hamachi with lardo, yuzu, and rainbow chard, Fifth course: Wagyu Beef RIbeye with spring ramps, smoked paprika, & garden mustard. Sixth course: Sudachi with togarashi and nepitella mint. 7th course: Coconut with pineapple, freeze dried saffron, and vietnamese balm. Eight and the final: Sambirano Valley Chocolate with brown butter, mandarin, and stevia.
Normally, I wouldn't even pay attention to these ingredients for the obvious reasons. 1. I can't pronounce them 2. I forget the minute they finish explaining Basically they sound like foreign language to me. Usually I get very impatient because I can't wait to put them in my mouth. But I wanted to put the whole menu for the first time and last time that these are the kind of ingredients that create the flavor we don't experience at regular restaurants and taste so fantastic. Of course then you have to have a great chef to make the magic happen.
Thank you, Chef Curtis Duffy for making our special day very special.