9:42 AM sians 0 Comments

province was indeed a great way to kick start my chicago restaurant week 2010 experience. i was especially excited when my friend told me three weekends ago that restaurant week was just around the corner when i had brunch with him.

to recap how chicago restaurant week works, it is essentially 170 food establishments around the chicago area offering a prix fixe three course meal for lunch or dinner or both. lunch would cost $22 and dinner at $32 for an appetizer, an entree and a dessert from their special restaurant week menu.

province is located in west loop, chicago, serving up cuisines inspired by central, south american and spain. we've decided on dinner at this place because ryan and i have never tried duck confit or any sort of confit (at least not that i can remember) and it was on their menu. i think it was also featured as one of the top 8 restaurants recommended on redeye for restaurant week.

we decided to take the 'el' to our location this time for a few reasons: we didn't want to pay insane amounts of money just on parking, it was close to loop and it was saturday evening. but i was cranky when we decided to take public transportation cos it was a freaking cold night. poor ryan got cranked at the whole way there but i was freezing!

when we walked into the restaurant, i was taken by the decor of the place which modern contemporary. even though the room was dimly lit, there were spotlights illuminating each table they had in the room and there were ample space between each table - a feature of the restaurant that i really adore. it was as if to mimic a feel of having a private dining experience with your party. it also almost felt like i was on center there is two pink accent walls (when i looked at it it was red, most probably due to lighting) with interesting food arts. they also have a private dining area in the back part of the restaurant as well with a wall lined with bottles of wine. i really love the overall ambience of the restaurant.

p.s. more photos can be found here

the menu came on a colorful clipboard which i thought was interesting. i just browsed through their regular menu to see what they offered regularly and found that they have an extensive selection of wine to choose from. ryan ordered a glass of their house wine which is an argentinian malbec. he thought that it was one of the smoothest wine he has ever had and absolutely loved it.

they started us off with some complimentary appetizers. the waiter explained what it was but i could barely hear him. it was kinda like caramelized onions and mushrooms topped with a chives cream. the taste of reminiscent of french onion soup. we also had some bread sticks with an onion/garlic spread. oh did i tell you i really like their silver ware? it's different and it's awesome! i told ryan i'd like to have those when i have my own house..hehe

appetizer| ryan ordered the house smoked salmon tartare parfait which has layers of avacado, cucumber and chive crema. the diced smoked salmon tasted excellent with the savory smokiness and the crunch of cucumber with the richness of avacado were good accompaniments. we did feel it needed more citrus to give the dish a lil more freshness and cut through the richness.

i opted for the roasted wild mushrooms and market winter vegetables tossed in orange mojo. i particularly love this dish. it had so many levels of textures with the different crunch and sweetness from the red bell pepper, jicama, and pumpkin paired with the earthiness of the mushroom and then finished off with the spiced, citrus-y mojo. i looked up what mojo is and mojo's basic ingredients are olive oil and large amounts of garlic, cumin and paprika. i guessed that the spice in the vinegarette was cumin which i wasn't sure but i am right! :D  between the two appetizers, we both prefer the wild mushroom salad.

main entree| the main reason why we came: we both had the gunthrop farms duck confit (pronounced "Con-fee") served with white beans, piquillo peppers and braised greens. what is confit you say? lemme qoute wikipedia for you (yes wikipedia is my best friend):

Confit of duck (confit de canard) are usually prepared from the legs of the bird. The meat is salted and seasoned with herbs, and slowly cooked submerged in its own rendered fat, in which it is then preserved by allowing it to cool and storing it in the fat
when the dish came, it looked mighty delicious and comforting. and it delivered! i usually don't like beans in my food but i gobbled it up all the same with the braised greens and the shredded duck meat. it was warm, yummy and good for the soul especially in this cold weather.

dessert| there were only two selections in this case and we both went for the warm bosc pear cobbler served with cinnamon ice cream and pear syrup. we aren't big fans of carrot cake which was the other dessert offered. the cobbler had good flavor and paired well with the cinammon ice cream. it was crunchy on the sides and slightly chewy (which is what i liked) and i could taste the slices of those bosc pears. plus it wasn't overly sweet. it was a good way to end the meal.

overall service was excellent and i totally loved the ambience and atmosphere of the place. to describe the food in province in a few words, it would be homemade comfort food with sophistication. i'd probably recommend this place to a friend but i'd have to try their regular menu first to say for sure. and i hope my next visit to province will be in a very near future :)

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

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