Busby Bakes

thoughts on cooking + eating by one who lives for the daily feast

Archive for May, 2010

dinner no. 30: avec

avec

615 W Randolph (at Jefferson)

For the last of our April dinners out, we chose avec, which is where the Husband hatched the whole idea a few months back. I adore everything about this place but the noise.

We met up after work with a friend. The three of us huddled around the end of one of the communal tables and tried to hear each other’s witticisms over the din of a happy Friday evening. A frosty apology to the couple next to us whose facial expressions went from scared to shocked to annoyed. A hug to our waitress who rolled with it when we misheard the special of porgy as “Corgi.”

We quickly agreed on sharing all dishes and ordered chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, served in a tomato sauce; crostini spread with English pea puree and mint oil; a very salty shrimp dish; a beautiful selection of salumi served with a sharp cabernet mustard; and a flatbread topped with lardo, lamb tongue, stinging nettles and garlic which no one liked but me.

And we ordered a bottle of a delicious French country wine, Pont de Gassac-Selection Guibert. And then another. And then went to Bar DeVille for a nightcap.

Total was $50 each.

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dinner no. 29: FAIL

We were supposed to meet up with a friend and his lady who were visiting from L.A. The Husband’s flight home from D.C. was delayed. I had some work to do. We bailed on the plan.

I decided to stay home. My dinner consisted of olives, some addictive crackers, an apple, and slices of a brown sugar and fennel salame from Boccalone that a friend had brought from San Francisco.

The Husband tried a little harder. He had a sandwich from Potbelly at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (Terminal B).

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dinner no. 28: Crust/Matsutake Sushi & Steak

The Husband had taken an evening flight to D.C. He and a colleague ate at Matsutake Sushi & Steak at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (Main Terminal).

This second part is painful.

After working late, I ordered delivery from Crust:  an arugula salad and my favorite, the  sausage pizza topped with shaved fennel. I found a wad of chewing gum on the bottom of one of the slices of pizza. Mint flavored.

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dinner no. 27: Jane’s

Jane’s

1655 W Cortland (at Paulina)

Still reeling from the previous night’s extravaganza, the Husband and I agreed we should aim for simplicity. Also brevity, as we had an early morning meeting with our contractor the next day. So we headed to Jane’s, a friendly neighborhood place with a consistently fresh, yummy menu.

The Husband ordered a delicious combination of black beans, brown rice, and grilled veggies that came with a tangy yellow pepper salsa. I listened to by stomach’s plea for a light meal and ordered the salad of beets, asparagus, and oranges with a bit of chevre on the side. We added a Daisy Cutter and a glass of viognier—and we were eating like we do at home (sans the different entree thing).

We enjoyed our perch at the table in their front window. No one was sad when the table where little kids outnumbered mommies left shortly after we arrived. Way to rock the half-price bottle of wine night, mommies!

Total was $45.25 and we were home before 8. W00t!

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dinner no. 26: L2O

L2O

2300 N Lincoln Park West (at Belden)

After a last-minute rescheduling, at last it was time for our April dinner orgy. We’d heard great things from friends who have been here and had read the accolades in the press. I was excited. I love seafood. I got a manicure.

L2O is off of the lobby in the Belden-Stratford building, which is a place that’s always confused me. Happily, all traces of potted palms, shiny brass, and is-it-a-hotel/is-it-an-apartment-building muddiness vanished once inside the restaurant. It smelled like orchids. Attentive service. Shadowy wall panels. Chill music.

As I waited for the Husband to arrive I sat on a white leather sofa in the sexy, intimate lounge. I never sit on a white leather sofa. I’m rarely in a room one could call “sexy.” A nice man brought me a glass of Champagne. I ordered a whiskey sour for the Husband, who came in and sat with me in the sexy room. We were almost disappointed when it was time to sit at our table.

With hardly any deliberation, we decided to splurge on the tasting menu (12 courses) with wine pairings (9 two-ounce pours).

From the first of 2 amuse bouches to the last of 3 desserts, this was one of the most completely enjoyable dining experiences we’ve had together. We’d never had seafood treated so lovingly. Highlights included individual vessels for shabu-shabu, incredibly fresh halibut, unfiltered sake, vegetable purees and sauces that exploded with intensity, amazing wines, and the best scallop I’ve ever eaten. The breads were small masterpieces. The room was beautiful. The dishes themselves were beautiful. The newly-engaged Italian couple sitting nearby were beautiful. Our server was relaxed, friendly, and welcomed all of our questions.

And instead of taking notes (or pictures) we simply enjoyed the experience. We talked and had fun and were the last table to leave. If you can, go.

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