Tru, Chicago, 5/13/2017 (8-Course, $158 excl. Taxes & Grat.), French, Michelin 2-Star
Chef Anthony Martin offers Progressive French cuisine, at Tru, showcasing the most pristine ingredients with creativity and presentation. With an elegant ambiance of white draperies punctuated by a museum-quality contemporary arts collection including Gerhard Richter and Andy Warhol. Tru has a dressing code policy: jackets are required for gentlemen and elegant-casual attire is required for ladies. It is located one block east of the Magnificent Mile in a prime location of Chicago. Known for its signature offering, coral caviar, a selection of up to ten types of caviar sitting on coral-like tray. The coral-caviar tray reminded me of the Beluga caviar that I had at Da Vittoria in Milan. No other caviar in the world can beat the taste and flavor of Beluga.
There are two types menu, the abbreviated menu ($125) and expanded menu ($158) which includes two additional dishes - scallop and pastry. I chose the 8-course tasting menu with scallop and pastry and started with Amuse Bouche.
1). Comté Gougère – Comté (Greyère de Comté) is a French cheese made from the unpasteurized cow milk in Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Its aging time ranges from 8 to 36 months. I had 36-month old Comté in France twice, but only the less aged are available in US. Its texture is hard and flexible and taste is strong and slightly sweet. It is ideal to use it for soufflé, quiche and gougère. Gougère, in French cuisine, is a baked savory made of Pâte à choux (egg, flour and cheese.) I can easily eat ½ a dozen if served warm.
2). Cookie – A roasted pine nut cookie with apricot jam, mildly sweet and crunchy.
1st Course – Mache, Celery, Summer Truffle, Green Curry
It was a salad with quite a few ingredients, including Mache (French name of the edible salad green), celery in three forms (raw, blanched and purèe). What was special in this salad was the truffle vinaigrette and the summer truffle (in lighter color with dark-brown edges). Summer truffle was from Burgundy, France and tasted lighter than the ordinary dark color truffle. But, it was still quite delicious.
2nd Course – Chanterelle Mussel Velouté, Green Curry
A bowl was placed on a wooden board with an empty mussel shell on the side for decoration, Inside the bowl, soup was slightly thicker than broth and thinner than bisque. Soup was cooked with green curry (sweet green curry, a central Thai variety of curry.) Chef used Thai curry because its less pungent and spicy taste complement better with mussel’s seafood flavor. In the soup, there were also beach mushroom, chervil and shredded baby ginger. Even though soup was sumptuous, mussels were still tender, Chef probably used other shell fish for the soup base.
Bread – Sun Flower Seeds Bread and Sourdough Bread Served with Butter and Goat Butter
This was the 1st time that I saw a real bread basket after a week’s fine dining in Chicago. Being a New Yorker, I am more used to the New York style of re-filled bread basket.
3rd Course – Diver Scallop, Lily Bulb, Yuzu Koshu Sauce
A large size of scallop from the East coast, topped with lily bulb which is the root part of lily flower. It is considered a very healthy type of vegetable, tasted a bit like sliced watercrss. Yuzu koshu sauce (mixture of lemon zest, grapefruit zest, lime zest and related citrus juice, Thai chili, salt and pepper) was served to balance scallop’s seafood taste and flavor. Scallop was juicy, a bit crispy outside and tender in the center.
4th Course – Roasted Halibut, Barigoule Sauce, Parsley
Barigoule sauce is a traditional Provençal dish of artichokes braised with onions, garlic and carrots in a seasoned broth of wine and water. In addition, artichoke was also included in blanched and fried forms along with celery, parsley and sun-dried tomatoes.
5th Course – Veal Tournedo, Chanterelle Mushroom, Black Garlic, Mustard Blossom
Two pieces of veal were roasted to medium-well done, served along with chanterelle mushroom, black garlic, mustard blossom and potato purèe. Sauce was made of wild mushroom reduced, cooked tapioca, and rosemary. The veal was tough and chewy, it was overcooked regardless my specific request for rare-medium. I signaled my server and he took it back to the kitchen.
A little while later, the replacement dish was brought back to me. Its kitchen has replaced one small piece of flank steak for 2 pieces of veal. I did question my server why the replacement did not come in two pieces.
6th Course – Green Asparagus + Morels in Pastry
This item is only available if you order the expanded menu. After I had the truffle croissant at Acadia, I was sort of expecting something similar.
This dish came with a puff pastry with sautéed asparagus and morels on the side. Sauce was made of cream, sherry and chive). It was not as spectacular as what I expected, although it was still delicious.
My server offered me a cheese course as a complimentary. I had 5 varieties ranging from mild to strong, my favorite was goat cheese with rosemary. I chose honey instead of jam. Oddly, the cheese selection did not have Comté which one of the most popular cheese selection in French restaurant.
7th Course – Ruby Grapefruit, Fennel Consommé, Aged Balsamic
This is the palette cleanser. Ruby grapefruit sorbet was served with fennel leave and aged balsamic balls made with the molecular gastronomy technique of dipping sodium alginate into calcium lactate. Sorbet was quite good and refreshing.
In addition, there were a few orange-flavored Madeleine. Chef made extra efforts to bring up the taste and flavor by sprinkling powder sugar and orange peel on top of them. The texture of Madeleine was excellent.
8th Course – Dulce de Leche, Banana, Dark Chocolate
Banana purée was at the bottom, dulce de leche mousse was served in frozen condition, covered by dark chocolate. Vanilla powder was dusted all over the plate. It was a rich in flavor and light in texture desert.
Petit Fours – Black Cherry Soft Candy, Cannelé and Chocolate Candy
1). Black cherry jelly candy was full of flavor.
2). A cannelé is a small French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. It takes the shape of small, striated cylinder approximately five centimeters in height and is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France. It tasted especially good when fresh while outside is crusty and inside is 80% done. It requires more technique and labor to make than madeleine. I had it once in NYC two years ago, this was the 2nd time that I had in US.
3). Chocolate sheet was rolled and filled with bourbon infused sugar, ginger, black currant and lemon grass. It rendered a very sophisticated flavor.
4). House made sumptuous chocolate truffle.
Petit Fours was my favorite course for the evening, especially the chocolate candy.
I started my fine dining week in Chicago at Boka and liked its savory dishes more than its desert. I ended my fine dining week at Tru and liked its desert more than its savory dishes. At present, in Chicago there are more fine dining restaurants focusing on American Progressive style instead of French (Progressive) style. I wish there would be more restaurants focusing on French Progressive style in the future in Chicago.