Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Meal

One day at work a magical card that gives me free dinners for some reason appeared on my desk.  Of course, I thought this must be a mistake so I set out to use it before someone figured it out and took it back from me.  So we set out for Marche, which I have always wanted to eat at.  Marche is located at 833 West Randolph and its website is  Marche serves what seems to be French bistro food.

As soon as we walked up I commented that the place looked almost cavernous (and big restaurants are always trouble).  Needless to say, I was a bit disturbed even before we went in.  I ordered the lobster bisque because lobster bisque has a special place in my heart as the first "nice" thing that I ever ate.  In the 20 or so years that I've been eating lobster bisque, I've never had one as flavorless and generally awful as the one at Marche.  It was thin, watery, unsalted, and had no lobster or lobster flavor at all.  Other than that, it was fine.  Curiously, the manager came over to see what was wrong.  I said that I was content just to move onto my next course, but he insisted (almost as if he knew something was wrong with the bisque) that I get something else.  I ordered the french onion soup, and it was pretty good.  It was the salty version, which I prefer to the sweet onion version.  The bread was slightly crisped which is the proper way to do it.  The cheese was extremely hot since I think they just made it.  Anyway, here is a picture of the lobster bisque.

For my main course, I ordered a skirt steak with bernaise sauce.  Inexplicably, it came coated in some sort of red wine sauce.  Even more improbably, they put the bernaise sauce on the side.  I can only assume they would hope I wouldn't notice the wrong thing being on there.  The sauce they ended up putting on it wasn't even good.  Everything was so bad that we just ended up opting out of dessert. 

Just to pile on further...for some reason the chefs just stood around for nearly the entire dinner.  I'm not sure who was making the food, but it certainly wasn't the guys who were standing near the stove.  Generally the decor looked like something that was designed by a person who just took 11 hits of acid.  The whole time I imagined that Gordon Ramsay would pop out at any second and start yelling things like "you donkey!" or "disgusting!"  Marche has soured me completely on the other restaurants owned by the same group: Red Light, Opera, and Gioco.  

In a possibly related note, I heard Marche is closing, so you will not accidentally end up there. 

Fish Picatta

One weekend we finally made it back to the Fish Guy Market after a several week absense.  It seems that being employed is drastically reducing my fish consumption, which is unfortunate.  Sorry that this was so long ago and I don't remember the recipe.  I'm sure it involved lemon, white wine, capers, and butter and I probably made it the pan after searing the fish.  I served it with angel hair pasta with a little parmesan cheese and butter.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish

Shortly after the Alinea meal I prepared, we went out to C-House.  C-House is located at 166 East Superior Street (the Affinia Hotel) and its website is  As  you might be able to tell from the name, C-House focuses on seafood.

To start things off, Michelle had the clam chowder and I had the foie gras apptizer.  I felt like the clam chowder was a little thin, but otherwise the flavor was good.  The foie gras was seared and spectacular.  It was flavored with seasonings that made it taste a bit like pad thai.  Flat out amazing

For the main course, we had the Fish and Chips with homemade ketchup and tartar sauce and Poached Sturgeon with Jonah Crab, Preserved Lemon, Spring Onion, and Fennel.

The fish in the fish and chips was very tasty, but the sauces that went with it were a bit off the mark.  The poached sturgeon was like eating a mouthful of spring, and it was a very nice thing to eat just as the weather was beginning to change for the season.

For a side dish we got the phenomenal truffled mac & cheese.  Like at Smith & Wollensky's, I probably could have made a whole meal out of just this.

We ended with my favorite part about C-House...the Candy Bar.  With the Candy Bar, you order a variety of small desserts for about $2 each and you get to try a whole bunch of different stuff.  Some were better than others, but overall this idea was amazing.  Starting from the bottom left going counterclockwise:  lavender lemons, chocolate truffles, salted fudge brownies, molasses fudge sandwich, and vanilla cupcake.

My favorite was the molassses fudge sandwich, though the whole concept was fun and creative.

Lucky Number 100

Who ever would have thought I would have made it to 100 posts before getting bored or distracted, but here we are. 

A while back, I had Bri and Bill over for dinner.  Apparently Bill had been a shadow reader of this blog for a while, so it was nice to have him over.  As such, I felt I had to impress him.  I had been eyeballing an Alinea recipe for quite some time, so this was the perfect time to give it a whirl.

The recipe called for the fat cap of a kobe ribeye, but I substituted that for a top roast that I got from the spectacular Whole Foods.  I know that is a bit like replacing a Bentley with a 1993 Civic, but the kobe was $50 per pound.  Next time I would use a more tender cut of meat.  Perhaps not a kobe fat cap, but maybe a regular ribeye or something.  Anyway, here is how I did it.

First, I made some lime rocks by whisking together some sugar, egg whites, kosher salt, citric acid, and lime juice.  I made the mixture into disk-like shapes and then put it in the dehydrator for about 12 hours.  I also tried putting it in the oven, but those browned and turned out quite poorly.  Once the mixture is dry, break it up into pieces and reserve.

Next, make a soy sauce pudding by mixing soy sauce with agar agar with an immersion blender and refrigerate.  Once it is gelled, slice it into cubes and put it in a blender and mix on high speed until smooth.  If necessary, add some water or soy sauce to get the mixture to be smooth like pudding.  Refrigerate until you need it.

Cut the steak into long, rectangular strips and seal in a vacuum bag.  Put the bag in 138 degree water for 30 minutes to make a perfect medium rare steak.  Once the steak is done, transfer the bags to ice water baths and let them cool for 15 minutes.  Once the meat is cooled, cut the steak into long, narrow strips.

Cut very long, thin slices of a cucumber on a mandoline.  Reserve.

Cut several dozen small planks out of a honeydew melon.  Reserve.

To assemble, heat a cast iron pan over high heat.  Put the strips of meat into the pan and cook until charred (about 1 minute).  Remove and slice the meat crosswise into small planks.  Make a long line of overlapping honeydew on the middle of each plate.  Cover the honeydew with some beef planks with the charred side facing the diner.  Drape the cucumber slice over the top of the beef.  Put the soy sauce pudding in a squeeze bottle and draw a line down the middle of the cucumber and pool some at one end of the dish.  Stick some lime rocks and pink peppercorns on top of the cucumber.  Enjoy!

Return of the King

After a long, finals induced hiatus, I'm back.  I'm going to do a series of short posts to get caught up unless a particular thing requires a longer post.  Here we go....