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Dinner at L2O – Part Two

2009/08/01

Continuing with my recent dinner at L2O in Chicago, I’ll be focusing on the warm and main courses this time around. If you’d like to read part one on amuse and raw courses, the blog entry can be found here.

Our table was able to decide on different warm and main courses so that meant many dishes to taste! A very generous intermezzo from the kitchen broke up these sets of plates.

Peekytoe crab, foie gras emulsion

Peekytoe crab, foie gras emulsion

An emultion of foie gras and clarified butter was spooned over delicate, sweet Peekytoe crab. “Peekytoe” is the nickname of Maine rock and sand crabs from the Atlantic. While the presentation was probably the least artful of the courses we had, the flavour sure was amazing. I still had some of my 1990 Salon Champagne (see previous post) and its flavours really played well off the crab. The 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Buisson Renard was no slouch of a pairing either.

Kampachi, yuzu, tapioca

Kampachi, yuzu, tapioca

The rich flavour of beautifully seared Kampachi was cut nicely by the citrus zing of yuzu. A rice puff offered a nice textural contrast to the other elements of the dish. Kona Kampachi is a brand of sustainable Hawaiian yellowtail.

Lamb tartare

Lamb tartare

This was easily one of the most beautifully presented – and tasty – dishes all evening. Visually stunning, a layer of lamb tartare was with topped shrimp ceviche, greens, and edible flowers. A dusting of edible gold flakes finished the dish. I absolutely love tartare when it is well executed and this definitely hit the mark. Well done!

Salt cod, olive oil, Italian osetra caviar

Salt cod, olive oil, Italian osetra caviar

To break up the monotony (hah!) of the previous dishes leading into the main courses, the kitchen sent out a lovely intermezzo of whipped salt cod topped by foamed salt cod, a few drops of olive oil, and a healthy dollop of Italian osetra caviar. Having grown up in Italian household I have a soft spot for salt cod (bacala). Very refined, the richness of the salt cod paired beautifully with the salty goodness of the caviar. I’m positive I could have eaten many bowls of this.

Lobster, bing cherry, sweet pea, chocolate

Lobster, bing cherry, sweet pea, chocolate

Following the salt cod intermezzo, the mains started to arrive. I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I wanted lobster, but not this lobster. Unfortunately we arrived the day that the summer menu started, meaning the spring menu – that had the Lobster Royale dish I really, really, REALLY wanted to have – was unavailable. The Lobster Royale was butter poached lobster, black trumpet mushrooms, and a massive slab of pan-seared foie gras. As someone who loves his foie, you can understand my disappointment. I realize that I already had it in the previous two courses I selected but what’s wrong with the trifecta?

I found this dish to be the least successful of the evening. It still “worked,” but I didn’t find it profound. I may not have given the dish a fair shake having wanted the other preparation, but I never would have thought of pairing chocolate with lobster and would have preferred it without. That said, the very large lobster tail and claw were perfectly cooked and worked nicely with the sweet pea puree and cherries. Then there was the zucchini blossom. One of my favourite things to eat, so extra points there.

Striped bass, crispy skin, chanterelles

Striped bass, crispy skin, chanterelles

Buttery, nutty chanterelle mushrooms heightened a well-cooked piece of striped bass. And hey, who can deny how tasty crispy skin is, be it fish, pork, chicken, or something else. Micro romaine was braised as an accompaniment, but I can’t remember the two green sauces for the life of me.

Pork belly, truffle, potato

Pork belly, truffle, potato

Our last entree was a ridiculously generous serving of pork belly and potato over which a truffle  sauce was poured table-side. We thought that they were being generous with the portion because of the occasion but a glance over at another table later in the evening proved that was not the case. Melt-in-your-mouth porky, fatty goodness with a crisp, crisp skin and amazing potatoes. Potatoes should never be “just potatoes.” They should be tasty as hell and fluffy and buttery and rich, and that’s exactly what these were. As renowned as L2O for their seafood program, they sure as heck prepare some excellent meat.

Can you believe we were only 3/4s of the way through the meal at this point? Aside from the minor misstep – maybe that’s harsh, let’s say underwhelming menu option – of the lobster and chocolate, things were completely on-point!

A little about the Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume that paired with the second half of the meal:

  • 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Buisson Renard – France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Pouilly-Fumé (7/16/2009)
    Clear colour. Aromas of grass, gooseberry, lemon, lime, white flowers. Nice and crisp on the palate showing notes of citrus and plenty of minerality. Moderate-length finish, ~35s following through from the palate. Lovely, and a perfect pairing for most of the seafood we had at L2O. (93 pts.)

Part three will focus on the pre-desserts, desserts, and everything else plated up for us. Look for some photos of the kitchen including photos of what is the most amazing spice closet I’ve seen to date. Amazing! Expect that post on Sunday or Monday.

Until then!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jess Yared permalink
    2009/08/02 9:42 AM

    Jay, Great job so far on your blog. I feel like I’ve been taken on this culinary journey at L20 with you, and I’m looking forward to reading part 3. Keep it coming!

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