Category Archives: Logan Square

Bonsoirée

I’ve always been incredulous of gourmet dining.  Perhaps its because dining out for my parents was a luxury, an event for the bourgeois, not for our family of six.  My dad worked hard to put food on our table and my mom did her best to provide balanced meals full of fresh fruits and veggies, meat and potatoes.  So when I go into a restaurant with gourmet fare I have very high expectations.  I mean, seriously, do you know how many heifers I could buy a hungry family in Africa with that money?  So… with that being said… Bonsoirée is responsible for my new affirmation that gourmet dining does not have to mean celebrity chefs, expensive wine lists, and pretentious waiters… Gourmet dining can be comfortable, seasonal and BYOB!

The Atmosphere:

Its a dark nondescript house-like structure with ample street parking.  Its only sign is the 2728 neatly posted above the door or by visual inspection through the windows. Upon entry I realized I had some how taken such large steps that I ended up in the middle of the dining room. I wheeled about awkwardly, hoping I hadn’t interrupted any diners, but the cozy space is conducive to conversation and no one had even noticed… except for the awesome waiter who casually told us to sit where-ever we pleased.  I felt oddly at home at Bonsoirée.  Perhaps it was the exposed cream brick walls,  but I felt more like I was invited to someone’s elegant modern home than a restaurant.  And considering their concept started in their apartments as an underground dining experience, I’m sure that feeling is quite intended.

The Menu:

Watermelon Tartare with Seaweed Salad

Bonsoirée has a variety of degustation menu options to choose from including a 4, 7, or 13 course tasting menu, underground dining, and a no-menu sunday dinner. We have had our eye on the underground dining experience for sometime, but instead had made reservations for the no-menu Sunday Dinner which mixes the finest worldly ingredients with seasonal ingredients from The Green City Market and The Logan Square Market. The ingredients are then placed on beautiful artisanal dishes from Japan.  Our first course was a bright and sassy seaweed salad of sorts including a tartare that just happened to be watermelon, pickled daikon, cauliflower, fava beans and beautiful dots of raspberry vinigrette on a bright white plate.  The fresh, bright ingredients reminded me of a modern art exhibit and though it looked beautiful I was so hungry I attacked the plate.

Scallop Motoyaki

The next plate was a motoyaki, a Japanese dish that usually includes an oyster in a mayonnaise sauce.  In this case it happened to be scallop and crab in an aioli.  Wow! I don’t think their are words to describe how wonderful or rich this small plate was. Our next course was a corn vichyssoise in a beautifully oversized bowl, with truffle and other fungi resting on its ledge.  It too was equally amazing in taste, a perfect balance between the sweet of the corn and the salty earthy flavor of its fungi accompaniments.   A fish dish was soon too follow, and while it looked beautiful in its hollow, oblong plate, it just wasn’t as exciting to my palate as all the other dishes.  At this point we were running low on our white wine, so I’d suggest two bottles for 7 courses as a red would have paired nicely with our next dish of lamb in a brilliant concord grape reduction with mashed potatoes.  The interlude between lamb and dessert came to our table in a small, dark and circular dish.  It was a trail mix that included a crunchy brussels sprout, spiced puffed rice and a plethora of other things that were absolutely fantastic when combined with the homemade yogurt served tableside. Our finale was a dessert of hazelnut ice cream resting on top of brownie crumbs with dots and dashes of banana bread pudding decorating the scalloped plate.

Our Thoughts:

Bonsoirée is the elegant modern dining experience that exceeded my cynical expectations and became the most enjoyable and creative meal we have had in Chicago in a long time. With each dish we became more impressed with the chef’s beautiful artistry and perfect flavor combinations.  And as the night and flavors progressed, I realized I thoroughly enjoyed not knowing what to expect next.  We can’t wait to return to Bonsoirée and try another tasting menu. I just hope they have returned from their dinner at The Beard House!

Bonsoirée | 2728 W Armitage Avenue | Chicago IL 60647 | 773-486-7511 |

Bonsoiree on Urbanspoon

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Our Trip to the Sausage Superstore

Hot Doug's The Sausage Super Store

Hot Doug’s The Sausage Super Store

It takes a lot for a straight man to rave about another man’s sausages, but Hot Doug’s renowned Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium meets and exceeds all the national hype.  Hot Doug’s gourmet sausage shop has received praise from my stomach to Anthony Bourdain and even the New York Times.  Last week, we decided to check it out again.

We drove on a cold December day to this hot dog mecca on the north side only to be greeted by a  long line when we attempted to enter.  We clearly were not the only ones craving a lunchtime dog and after a few minutes waiting outside we were upgraded to the line inside.  Yes!   And I’m going to go ahead and call this cash-only establishment a truly unique place.  Doug himself was taking orders at the cash register and even though the line was winding out the door, he was still super friendly.  As we were directed to the next available table, we noticed the phrase painted on the wall, “There are no two finer words in the English language than ‘encased meats,’ my friend.”  I can’t say that I disagree and by the looks of it, neither can his patrons.

The Atmosphere:

It’s a casual neighborhood spot on California and Roscoe in Chicago, with miscellaneous hot dog paraphernalia adorning the walls(i.e. a sausage timeline or photo of Britney Spears dog in hand) Now this isn’t your typical hot dog stand so expect a wider range of prices ranging from $1.75 – $9.00 per dog/sausage.

The Menu:

Hot Doug’s is a sausage lover’s heaven.  Doug has encased just about every kind of meat conceivable from rattlesnake to duck.  Your standard hot dog and bratwurst are fixtures on the menu along with other more uncommon sausages like andouille and dare I say it a veggie dog.  Yes, you heard me right, a veggie dog.  It was a vegetarian who actually first recommended Hot Doug’s to me.  These standard features all have creative names like the Salma Hayek mighty, mighty, mighty hot andouille sausage.  However, it’s the gourmet sausages that truly define this unique sausage experience, and you have a lot to choose from.  Doug has a daily special list of about 10 sausages that change at random every 10-12 days.  And although you can order your typical chicago-style dog, the rest of these condiments aren’t your usual chicago fare.  Foie gras, brie cheese, peach mayonaise, and truffled aioli are condiments typically reserved for a slightly pretensious gourmet restaurant but here they pair perfectly with each sausage .  Of course no hot dog is complete without fries.  Hot Doug’s fries are excellent, but for a real treat try the fries on Saturday’s and Sundays when they are fried in duck fat (the tastiest form of fat fat according to french culinary standards).

Foie Gras Dog1

We satisfied our hot dog craving with the following three sausages:

1. Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Sel Gris

2. The Spicy Jerk Pork Sausage with Spicy White Peach Mayonnaise, Creme de Brie Cheese and Roasted Plantains

3.  The Paul Kelly(aka bratwurst)

Each sausage had its own complexity of flavor starting from the seasoned meat, further amplified by the condiments.  My mouth was overwhelmed with flavor from the rich foie gras and earthy truffle aioli.  It was the most decadent bite of food I have had in recent memory.  The spicy pork sausage was equally impressive complimented nicely by brie cheese and sweet fried plantains.  Katie loved it.  Need I say more?

Our Thoughts:

Everyone should go there.  Now.  No seriously, leave work early(they close at 4), grab some cash and head on over there.  Ok. wait… check their website first(they may be off on holiday) then leave.   Also, try a special.  Katie was hesitant but now she too believes in their special sausages.

Hot Dougs | 3324 N California Chicago IL 60618 | 773-279-9550

Additional Reviews at Urban Spoon

Hot Doug's on Urbanspoon

 

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