Monday, June 11, 2012

Chicago Beer Week at Nellcôte

It's been a couple weeks since it happened, but our experience at one of the hottest new restaurants in town was interesting enough to warrant a late post. Matt and I went there for the glorious time of year know as Chicago Craft Beer Week. I'm not much of a beer drinker but Matt likes it and occasionally I'll find something that I enjoy.

The interior of Nellcôte was gorgeous and you could definitely tell that they had invested a lot of money in it. I think the last number I heard was around a million...well spent on antique wallpaper, designer furniture, and candelabras (actual candelabras, with candles, mounted on the wall). It was a little on the overly-trendy-but-somewhat-lacking-in-personality side, which for some reason always makes me feel self conscious. I think it's because I feel like I'm encountering society as a whole rather than an individual, and suddenly there's an overwhelming pressure to conform.

Fortunately, the food on the whole was tasty enough to allay any fears about Nellcote being a haven for the glitterati, although you wouldn't have guessed it from the first course. We started off with an asparagus shooter, and if that sounds disgusting, well, that's because it was. It was cold and a little oily and just generally unpleasant.

Thankfully, we soon got our drinks, two cherry lambics, the special beer for the night. They were very good, although Nellcôte can't take too much credit for that.

And post-shooter, the food was very good, especially the bread. Apparently they mill their own flour and make all the breads and pastas in-house, and major props to them for doing so. We had a selection of three breads, (baguette, brioche and focaccia) and all were deeply flavorful and tasted really different from one another, despite having a superficial resemblance. Following that we shared a taleggio, scallion, and pancetta pizza, more than enough for two people. And finally, to top it all off, we shared pineapple, chocolate and coconut sorbet, all three flavors of which were delicious.

Having gone back afterwards and read some of the critical reviews, it seems like Nellcôte is very well regarded for its breads and pastas and not so much for just about everything else. If you were to go, I'd recommend sticking to the rolls and spaghetti.

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