Acadia, Chicago, 5/10/2017 (5-Course, $115 excl. Taxes & Grat.), American Progressive, Michelin 2-Star
Acadia is a Michelin 2-Star restaurant in the south loop of Chicago. Going thru the list in alphabetical order, it is the 1st Michelin 2-Star that I came across. Chef Ryan McCaskey focused mainly on American Progressive theme. The place is elegantly decorated, however, without open or see-thru kitchen.
I ordered a 5-course tasting menu. I started with Amuse Bouche.
1). Lobster Roll - Fine quality lobster from Penobscot bay in Stonington, Maine, served with mayonnaise and chive sandwiched in a bite-size bread. The cold and clean water of Penobscot bay is the perfect environment for producing the sweetest lobster.
2). Fried Head Cheese – with aioli cream drop on top touched with a sprig of parsley leave.
3). Truffle Cookie - this cookie dough also had Parmigiano cheese and thyme. It was served like a sandwich with truffle Bavarian cream in between. It was bite-size, but I would not mind to have a few more.
4). Beef Heart – Beef heart was slightly seared and grilled to get the flavor. It was almost raw, served with ponzu sauce, hoi-shin sauce, chopped peanuts, white onion; adorned with Thai basil, mint and broccoli leave.
1st Course – Truffle Croissant
I noticed the croissant had 2 different colors on the skin, it was made with 2 types of dough and twirled together at the final stage before baking, the darker color dough was the one with chopped truffle and the lighter color was the one plain. It was accompanied by egg custard foam (lighter than egg custard) made of whole egg, vanilla and truffle. I dipped croissant into the custard foam and could not quite find any better terms to describe the taste and flavor besides “It was like in heaven”.
2nd Course – Columbia River Salmon, Fava Bean
Salmon, from Columbia river, was poached to perfection, tender and medium in the center. To complement the flavor, the dish also included fresh radish, toasted granola, tangerine leaves, fresh dill, pickled orange peel, cute pansy flower and lemon yogurt cream.
3rd Course – White Asparagus, Iberico Ham, Farm Egg
I was happy that white asparagus was on the menu again. White asparagus, from Holland considered the best quality, was served with Iberico Serrano ham from Spain. Egg from Slaga farm south of Chicago was low-heat poached en sous-vide to a condition that the egg was barely settled, but not soupy, with a very pleasant rich taste. In addition, there was Fontina cheese fondue, ham crumbles, arugula, water crest, red bean sorrel served with truffle vinaigrette. I loved the taste of this semi-cooked egg yolk, the edge and the center part were with the same softness and smoothness. Most of the sunny side-up eggs was a bit harder on the edge than the center.
4th Course – Stonington Lobster, Ramp Gnochi, Green Goddess
Lobster was from the same source, Stonington, Maine, as what served in the amuse bouche. Lobster was poached in butter to keep its flesh tender and juicy. On the side, there were green gnocchi made of ramp, green asparagus, chervil, thyme, cream and sour cream, lemon and sorrel interspersed with a few cute flowers. The quality of lobster was without of doubt, Chef’s cooking technique also had a lot to do with the luscious taste of this dish.
Red Fife Biscuit, Pretzel Roll – served with 3 flavors of butter, yogurt, mushroom and mixed herbs.
Pea Ice Cream, Japanese Cheesecake, Meringue
For transition to meat dish. Gently flavored pea ice cream was served with whipped light cream and pea leaves/ vine tips.
5th Course – Anderson Farm Lamb, Olive, Peas
Lamb supplied by Anderson Farm was roasted to medium-rare and served with charred onion, diced and sautéed potato, peas and strawberries. The inclusion of olive tapenade made this dish from a good one to an excellent one.
Bloody Mary – with strawberry sorbet, spiced tomato sauce, celery foam, tomato balls and parmigiano sable. It was a palette cleanser proceeding the desert. It balanced among many different flavors and produced a sophisticated taste.
6th Course – Rhubarb Strudel, Nasturtium
At the bottom, there was a thin crisp with cashew cake, rhubarb compote and ice cream place on the crisp. This 2nd layer was then covered by another layer of crisp which was topped with poached rhubarb pieces, ricotta cheese cream and nasturtium leaves. Rhubarb was prepared properly without the tarry taste. It was a good treat for the seasonal desert.
Petit Four – Raspberry White Chocolate Bon-Bon, Rosemary Olive Cookie, Multi-Milk & Coffee Cream Macaroon. They were all yummy and cute, complementing with each’s distinctive taste and flavor.
After getting off the train at Chinatown station, it took about 10 minutes of walking to get to Acadia. Nevertheless, the mouthwatering experience of truffle croissant made the journey worthwhile.