It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Top Chef and when I have travel plans that take me to a big city, one of the first things I do is look to see if any of the show’s contestants have a restaurant there. This past weekend I was in Chicago where in season 9 alone there were five participants from the windy city so there was certainly no lack of great choices.
Heather Terhune is the executive chef at Sable Kitchen & Bar and while maybe her personality (or at least how she was portrayed on the show) wasn’t one of my favorites, her food looked tasty and the menu interesting so I booked a reservation well in advance.
My husband and I arrived a little early to enjoy a cocktail in the lounge and quickly realized we’d happened upon a very hip place. Their gastropub model is perfect for business people unwinding from their work week and we were lucky to find a small space to squeeze into at the bar. From here we had a front row view of the mixologists in action – and these are certainly no ordinary bartenders. Besides having rows of liquors that were strange and exotic sounding, there are vials and dropper bottles and little glass jars that make it reminiscent of an apothecary. It’s been my experience in these situations that it’s best to give the mixologist a rough guideline (in my case, vodka – not to sweet) and let them work their magic. What I got back was a spin on the classic cocktail, the Southside. It was refreshing but I admit that I had hoped for something a little more original that would have used some of the many interesting concoctions at hand.
We moved into the contemporary-styled dining room and were greeted by our server, Geoff, whom proved to be a great guide for our evening.
It seems like a growing trend to offer two order sizes of items on the menu – a tasting size and a larger version. I really appreciate this approach. It gives the diner the opportunity to sample several small plates, making it at least a little easier when we were already having a hard time deciding.
For our opener, we chose veal meatballs in a gorgonzola-walnut cream sauce ($8). My husband gave the dish a 7.5 (out of 10) which was an impressive score given that he’s not usually a veal fan. Next up was the cripsy pork belly BLT’s ($9) – let’s face it, they had us as “pork belly”. Time to move to a fish dish with the tuna tartar tostadas with a spicy tomato salsa and meyer lemon crema ($11) which was the light refreshing break we needed before diving into the braised pork belly flatbread (told you we are suckers for pork belly) with green apples, white cheddar cheese and chipotle barbecue sauce. It could have used more apple in my opinion – the barbecue sauce was a little overpowering and I think it could have benefitted from a tad more of the tartness.
Judging from the size of that flatbread, you’d think we’d be full by now, but everyone knows that there’s a separate stomach for desserts so we dove into a cherry cobbler with ice cream and a glass of ruby port.
With a bottle of pinot noir with dinner and tip our dinner came in under $150 (not including the two cocktails in the bar) which seemed really reasonable for the caliber of meal we had enjoyed and the great service. A total experience that I give 8 stars! Cheers!