Tag Archives: new american

Blackbird | Chicago

30 Jul

Blackbird’s prix fixe lunch is one of the best lunches in Chicago. Grab it for only $22 prix fixe.

Chilled White Onion Soup with Sturgeon Belly (4.5/5) – Nice cold texture. A single plop of fish. Makes use of the “drowned world” soup plating technique, where a mini-Atlantis of ingredients is smothered at your table with soup.

wood-grilled sturgeon with green cabbage, enoki mushrooms, walnuts and kaffir lime (4/5)

Interesting sour walnuts (I thought them pickled walnuts). Enoki mushrooms were fried and added crisp. Sturgeon was bland, but easily disguised by heaping the generous kaffir lime mayonaise on top.

Blueberry Buttermilk Affogato with Blackberries and Cinnamon Basil (5/5) – Fantastic buttermilk biscuits, with blueberry sorbet and cinnamon basil ice cream. Drowned in blueberry sauce. Deserves to be mentioned with Charlie Trotter’s Thyme-Glazed Brioche with Georgia Blueberry Compote & Lavender-Blueberry Sorbet (5/5).

Charlie Trotter’s | Chicago | 12/07/12 | “last hurrah”

24 Jul

Address: 816 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Phone: (773) 248-6228

One of the better meals of my life. Much has been written about Charlie Trotter’s closing his restaurant after 25 years in operation. But the menu is delightful. The kitchen tour afterwards surprised me. It was cramped and in a small space, and it was a wonder that so many dishes were able to come out of that small kitchen.

One of the breads was incredibly delicious. It was a crispy bread drizzled with maple syrup on the outside, and had tender bacon cuboid strips on the inside. I dub it the “Baconator”.

Big Eye Tuna with Charred Red Onion & Mussel Vinaigrette (5/5)
Wine: Champagne Pehu-Simmonet “Selection-Grand Cru” Brut, Verzanay NV (pairing: 3.5/5)

Boston mussels, sweet pea sauce.

Hamachi with Green Tomatoes, Avocado & Kalamata Olives (5/5)
Wine: Santorini Assyrtiko Domaine Sigalas 2011 (pairing 4.25/5 – sweet I think)

Avocado-lime sorbet. hamachi with squid ink. Incredibly tender, white hamachi.

King Salmon with Sweet Potato, Horseradish & Myoga (4.5/5)
Wine: Parr “Sanford & Benidict” Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills 2008

King salmon and myoga (Japanese ginger) paired well. King salmon lightly seared to perfection The salty horseradish and sweet potato lent body to the dish, but the horseradish amount could have been pared down. It ended up being a bit starchy for my taste.

Muscovy Duck with Smoked Coconut, Spring Onion & Venezuelan Chocolate (5/5)
Wine: Amarone della Valpolicella Classcio Tomasso Bussola 2006 (5/5)

A crisp lightly caressed of duck fat appeared on our slices of duck. Coconut, Chocolate were supporting actors for this play. Wine was deliciously complex, as if all the noxious fumes of uncracked petroleum were transmogrified into sugars.

Elysian Fields Farm Roasted Lamb Saddle with Toasted Espresso, Crispy Veal Tendon & Boudin Noir (4.75/5)
Wine: Soliste “Out of the Shadows” Syrah, Bennett Valley 2008 (2.75/5)

Tender veal. The lamb had a background sourness that only looking at the menu in hindsight I realised was espresso. The pea ravioli next door (you can spot the dark green ravioli peeking out behind the cracker) was delicious.

Wine tasted like a generic red.

Raspberry Sorbet with Lemon Verbena Cream & Raspberry Tart (4.75/5)

The tart was made like a baklava. An ode to raspberry.

Thyme-Glazed Brioche with Georgia Blueberry Compote & Lavender-Blueberry Sorbet (5/5)
Wine: Jorge Ordonez & Co “Victoria-#2” Moscatel, Jorge Ordonez, Malaga 2005 (5/5)

Triple Criollo Riviera Cake with Lemon Balm Puree & Strawberry-Tonka Bean Sorbet (4.75/5)

Wine: Dash “Late Harvest” Zinfandel, Dry Creek 2009 ()

The Tonka Bean sorbet tasted like an artificial strawberry candy, but the riviera cake sandwiching the lemon balm was divine.

Verdict: A fantastic meal, a great triumph. Some of the best classical cooking in Chicago.

Memory: Blueberry Compote with Thyme Brioche,

Overall Rating: 17.5/20

Keystone Restaurant | Singapore

21 Jun

Keystone was hanging around the top of the Singapore restaurant rankings when it came to Tripadvisor ratings. (As I type, it’s currently #14). Was it that good?

Price: $120++ pax w/o wine. [Menu]

It’s a participant of Palate so there’s a 50% offer occasionally.


We went to Keystone on a leisurely Monday night, having read ladyironchef’s recommendation. It really is food worth “eating with your eyes”.

First was the amuse-bouche, which featured halves radish, seared eel, and a spread of cumin and pumpkin, and a delicious charcoal bread with parmesan. The charcoal bread (5/5) was highly delicious and was warm and crisp. Along with their nice touch of having pepper over their butter, this bode well.

Appetiser was Georges Bank Sea Scallop (3.75/5) with [Hummus Purée | Confit of Cherry Tomato | Smoked Kurobuta Soil ].  The scallops were well seared and were quite sweet, but nothing amazing. The outstanding thing about the dish was the cherry tomato, which was really sweet. (Grape-level sweetness). (Georges Bank is a fishing bed off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachussetts – home to a famed oyster festival in October – to Nova Scotia)

Main was Snake River Farms Pork Belly (4/5) with [Kakuni | Blood Orange & Chili Jus | Yukon Chip | Karashi Paint]I didn’t fall in love with this dish. The texture of the pork was expectedly soft, (as something sous-vide-d for 36 hours and finished in brandy for 10 should be). The taste reminded me a bit of Wang Wang rice crackers. There was a rolling pungency that came from the pork, which probably is due to the meat itself. The Yukon Chips were a bit soggy and a let down. The poached radishes were not bad.

Snake River Farms, a quick Wikipedia search tells me, is the premium provider of Kobe beef in the USA, since importing the bull Fukurutsu from Japan in the early 1990s. Which also means it is part of a most mendacious marketing technique. There is no Kobe beef outside of Japan!!!

I also got to try a bit of the Chilean Seabass ConfitDecent, but not great.

Dessert was a trio of Silken Curd (4.25/5), Valrhona Genoise (4.75/5) , and Nutella Bar (3.5/5)Silken Curd featured two well-desiccated lychees, which tasted every bit as lychee-ish and was a delight to eat along with the Curd.

Valrhona Genoise was a chocolate cake with a hole in the middle, which they filled with something that tasted like condensed milk (in a good way!). What made the dish was eating the chocolate soil with yuzu sorbet. It was crunchy and sweet-chocolatey with a tangy taste. Something to replicate next time with a sorbet and cookie crumbles in my home, methinks.

Nutella Bar was a good hazelnut dessert. However the chocolate beads in the middle of the dish were a bit soggy, and detracted from the crunch I think the chef was going for.

Overall that was the story of the meal – slight flaws in some of the dishes – not fully crisp nutella crunch, soggy yukon fries – that made those dishes fall short of excellence. It was quite good, but I’m not sure if I’ll come back on my own dime.


Address: 11 Stanley StreetSingapore

Tel: +65 6221 0046 | Website