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!
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.
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.
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.
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 |