One Sixtyblue – a non-review

Of all the things I might claim or even pretend to be, restaurant critic is not among them.   I do find reviews somewhat interesting, but honestly can’t think of one single instance where I have read a review and thought to myself “I must dine here”.  I have been known to buy the odd record based on a review, but have never dined at a restaurant just because of one.   This could also be due to the fact that dinner tends to be considerably more costly than a record.

Additionally (and just for the record), I am starting to intensely dislike “foodie” posting forums.  For the most part these folks seem to be just a bunch of people who like to trash other people’s hard work or to nit pick the placement of a pickle on a dish or some such other trivial matter.

That being said, here’s a description of the dinner I had just over a week ago at One Sixtyblue when my in-laws were in town (thanks to their considerable generosity).  To fully disclose – this was my in-laws first visit to One Sixtyblue; Erin and I have eaten there on two other occasions.

To start our meal we followed the recommendation of the server and started with a cheese course.  No doubt unorthodox, but this is how they prefer to do things.  We followed our server’s recommendation and ordered the Capriole Farm Plain Goat Cheese with chioggia beet, nicoise olive and frisee salad.  The cheese, beets and salad were presented in a heated cast iron crock while the salad was on the other side of the rectangular plate.  The wine paired with this was a savignon blanc of French origin.  On a cool fall evening in Chicago this was a nice way to start off the meal.

Here is a listing of what everyone ate, including a picture of the lamb “Wellington” that has also been voted one of the top 124 best dishes in Chicago by Chicago Magazine:

Erin:

  1. peekytoe crab salad – apple jelly / piquillo pepper purée / lemon segment / local radish / citrus vinaigrette
  2. lamb “wellington” – boneless lamb loin / savoy cabbage / cipollini onion / sweet carrot purée / roasted cumin sauce

Jack:

  1. one sixtyblue bouillabaisse – seafood / saffron aioli / garlic croutons / vegetable brunoise / extra virgin olive oil
  2. kurobuta pork tenderloin – crispy pork belly / red cabbage confit / carolina ruby sweet potato / seedling apple salad / dried cherry / juniper berry sauce

Nancy:

  1. Maine diver sea scallops – parsley root purée / manila clam / castelas olive oil / italian parsley salad / vegetable chip
  2. beef tenderloin – heartland farm beef cheek / roasted sunchoke / wilted greens / garlic confit / espresso

Me: 

  1. local sunchoke velouté – pomegranate / duck confit / brioche crouton / white truffle oil
  2. kurobuta pork tenderloin – crispy pork belly / red cabbage confit / carolina ruby sweet potato / seedling apple salad / dried cherry / juniper berry sauce

Without a doubt the most beautifully presented plate was peekytoe crab salad – it also tasted great.

Both the bouillabaise and veloute were presented tableside in that the broths were poured into the bowl already containing all of the solids/garnish.  The purpose of this is twofold – it’s impressive to the patron and the server doesn’t have to worry about sloshing the broth all around thus screwing up the presentation.  From what I tasted of the bouillabaise it was exceptional and the sunchoke veloute wasn’t far from being so itself – the flavor of the duck confit was a nice complement to the sunchoke while the pomegranite was a nice contrast.

I can’t speak much about the scallop as I didn’t taste it, but it may have been the largest scallop any of us had ever seen. 

The pork tenderloin dish was plated very similarly to the lamb in that it was a trio.  The pork belly was perfectly done and balanced the acidity of the cabbage. 

We ordered a bottle of pinot noir which was light enough for the lamb and pork but yet still able to be paired with the beef.  Unfortunately I can’t remember where the pinot was from – I enjoy wine but to me it’s there to complement the food.

Really the only flaw is in the portion sizes.  I realize in the land of plenty this may come off as ridiculous and possibly pretentious, but the portions could really be scaled back, especially if they’re going to urge their guests to start with a cheese course.  If dessert is your thing then I would recommend skipping the cheese and share an app with another person.

Because our bellies were so full we opted for the hazelnut and one sixtyblue truffles along with our cappuccinos for dessert.

Ultimately we had a great time and enjoyed the contemporary updates to classical French fare.  The service is neither rushed nor inattentive and ultimately the food served is a pretty good bargain considering the quality of ingredients and level of care that the kitchen takes.

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