Saturday, July 27, 2013

Le Bouchon Chicago {Review}

Not too long ago, the Baron and I celebrated Bastille Day. In keeping with the occassion, it seemed only appropriate to dine at a local French restaurant. As a result, we found ourselves at Le Bouchon Chicago. This is a quaint restaurant that reminded me of the various cafes found in Paris. With a friendly, cozy and undoubtedly Parisian reputation, Le Bouchon has been serving Chicago residents a taste of Paris since 1993. It has been named a “relaxed neighborhood sort of place,” (Chowhound) and “feels like it was plucked from a Parisian side street” (CitySearch).  Le Bouchon, a quintessential French bistro is in the heart of Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood at 1958 North Damen Ave. Chicago, IL 60647. For our meal, we had four courses. Read on to see what we ordered and what we thought...

First Course: Cheese Plate - We couldn't resist the opportunity of some really good French cheeses. Paired with their crusty French bread and accompaniments such as toasted marcona almonds, a nice portion of honeycomb, and slices of a fresh Granny Smith apple, the cheeses worked so nicely with everything. In fact, the cheese plate I had even inspired me to do a cheese tasting event in the future...

Second Course: Lyonnaise Salade - Oh my. I cannot even express how much I loved this salad. The salad was of lightly dressed bed of spring greens topped with a perfectly poached egg and a healthy smattering of crispy, porky lardons [which are bite sized pieces of think bacon without the smokiness]. Heaven...

Third Course: Steak Frites - If there's any dish that the Baron enjoys getting at French restaurants, it's Steak Frites. He's very much a meat and potatoes type of guy and this was exactly what he wanted. I had the same and both our steaks were cooked perfectly. Our plates had a mound of pomme frites, or thin and crispy french fries, which could have been a meal in of itself. To put it over the top, each of our steaks had a nice big dollop of a garlic and herb compound butter, which melted right on top of the steak and was great to sop of with french fries...

Fourth Course: Chocolate Mousse & Creme Caramel - I've noticed that when we go out on our dinner dates, the Baron and I will usually have the same appetizer, salad and entree. But when it comes to dessert, we often times differ. This dinner date was no exception where he had the Chocolate Mousse while i had the Creme Caramel. Both of us enjoyed our desserts immensely. The chocolate mousse was light, airy and had a rich chocolate flavor. My creme caramel was perfectly done. Smooth, creamy and with some perfect caramel notes, it certainly completed my meal and experience at Le Bouchon.

Now if you want a taste of French cuisine, come check out Bouchon this weekend, on Sunday, July 28th! They will be opened the entire weekend to offer diners the experience of an authentic summer evening in Provence with a one-of-a-kind popup dinner. Sous Chef Oliver of Le Bouchon and Sous Chef Scott of La Sardine join forces once again to create the quintessential French eight-course menu for $80. To complement the dinner’s theme of a Summer Evening in Provence, the menu will include classics such as Braised Octopus, Rabbit Saddle, Provencal Flatbread and Honey Lavender Ice Cream. The dinner is BYOB, with the option of purchasing wine and liquor at Le Bouchon if desired. Wine pairings are available as well. 

Provence, located at the heart of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of France, possesses a beautiful coastline, spectacular festivals and a rich history of delectable dining. The Summer Evening in Provence popup dinner incorporates all the essential – and delicious – staples of the region including melons, bouillabaisse, lavender and fougasse bread. Diners will capture a quintessential slice of Provence with every bite!

The eight-course menu is as follows:
Fougasse Bread w/ Honey Bread
Proven├žal Flatbread, Anchovies, Olives Capers
Compressed Melon Salad, Radicchio, Puntarelle, House Cured Ham
Braised Octopus w/ Bouillabaisse Flavors
Soups au Pistou, Cranberry Beans, Squash Blossom
Grilled Whole Dorade, Pistachio Pesto
Rabbit Saddle, Eggplant Ravioli
Strawberries cooked En Papillote, Honey Lavender Ice Cream


Oliver Poilevey, son of Executive Chef Jean Claude, recently joined the French bistro to lend his contemporary vision and re-conceptualize several of the restaurant’s traditional Lyonnaise menu items. He has previously worked at La Sardine, The Publican, Landmark, owned by the Boka Group, Publican Quality Meats, Avec, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Club Med and Wilshire in Santa Monica. His extensive experience also includes working in a small bistro in Paris, which spurred his affinity for France and its traditional cuisine.

Doors will open at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 28th at the French bistro, located at 1958 N. Damen. Reservations for the popup dinner will be taken every half hour.