We were directed to an article in Esquire on the best new restaurants in America in 2007, and we were equal parts incensed and outraged that not a single Chicago opening made the list. In 2007 openings starting with the letter ‘S’ alone we have Sepia and Shikago! We canvased the other MP:bloggers, and none of them were overly impressed with the restaurants chosen for their cities. Maybe John Mariani has a thing against Illinois?
We bring this up because…2007 is not over yet, baby! Brasserie Ruhlmann opened mere moments ago, and all of Chicago is abuzz. Wait, what’s that? You don’t really care? BUT WE CARE.
In case you were wondering, it’s basically the same principle as Brasserie Ruhlmann at Rockefeller Center in New York,
where people rather seem to like the (modernized) classic French brasserie fare. How’s that different from classic French bistro fare? Mostly in atmosphere - think of a brasserie as brassier. Also, more raw seafood. A lot more. Like, $115 will buy you Le Plateau Royale, with twelve oysters, thirty-six shrimp, six mussels, six Manila clams, six Cherrystone clams, cookies, periwinkles, and tuna tartare. That is over sixty-six individual organisms for your gustatory delight, not even counting the precious little periwinkles. Should that not be enough, lobsters and king crabs can be added at market price, a figure which ought not concern you in the slightest!
Chef Christian Delouvrier, who’s put in time at Lespinasse and Restaurant Alain Ducasse, has a whole host of entrees to entreat you past the raw bar section of the menu, like Carree De Porc (oven roasted pork tenderloin with mustard sauce and carmelized endives, $28), Bouillabaisse (bass, snapper, scallops, clams, mussels, shrimp, aioli-rouille cheese, also $28), and the infamous Chateaubriand (filet of beef for two with macaroni au gratin, $65). So…nothing on the menu that you have not seen before, but sometimes, the name of the game is high quality French food done right, innovation and daring be damned. And if the asparagus hollandaise needs to be $11 for a side order, so be it - cannot but be delicious asparagus. Because if it’s not delicious, all hell’s going to break loose.
p.s. There’s no Ruhlmann the chef who started all this off in a small kitchen in Paris, obviously. The restaurant’s name is a “homage to the great Art Deco designer Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann,” according to their website. Take it or leave it.
[Photo: some sort of elaborate fish preparation, Brasserie Ruhlmann - New York]