i've been searching for new restaurants to try around chicago and one that came into my radar was sprout restaurant. a few of my friends from work joined me in this food adventure - i was a tad nervous because i suggested this place and i didn't want them to be disappointed with the food.
i think unknowingly, i've been going on a top chef restaurant hunt because the executive chef of sprout, dale levitski who is the runner up in top chef seasoned three teamed up with sarah nguyen, also a contender in the same season to open this lincoln park hotspot. serving three course prix fixe menu for $65, they offer quite a bit of interesting selections for all three courses.
i could immediately spot the restaurant since there are several banners with their recognizable logo at the front of the restaurant.
|taken from their website|
the decor was modern contemporary lit by warm lighting and adorned with brown and gold accents around the room. it felt cozy. there was also a room separated by french doors from the rest of the dining area, perfect for a private party.
the restaurant was semi empty when we were shown to our table which didn't quite surprise me since our dinner reservation was for 5:45pm. on thing for sure, sprout NEEDS to start working on a coat room or a coat rack or someplace where their diners can hang their coats and not on their friend's chairs. what started this whole rant was half of my party were seated on the cushioned bench so one of my friends offered to collect the coats and place it on the bench between the our table and the table next to ours. the waitress came by and told us that they needed more space for the other table and needed to hang the coats on our chairs (the other half of my party sitting on chairs) -.-"
what i also found odd was they only gave us four menus instead of six, granted two of our friends were late but that doesn't excuse them from giving us the right number of menu. apparently they were printing the new menu out (since the menu changes periodically) but still it doesn't mean they shouldn't be prepared for the dinner crowd. we ended up sharing our menu. another small thing that annoyed me was that the waitress serving the next table was laughing so loud at the diner's remarks that i wanted to tell her to hush...
regardless, our waitress was friendly and kindly explained to us what the seasonal menu is all about. it's a three course prix fixe menu where we can choose an appetizer, entree and dessert and there are two in between mini-courses so essentially it comes up to a five course meal.
appetizer | frog . mushroom . escargot . garlic . greens
that was my choice of appetizer. the lightly fried frog legs topped the mushroom and escargot which laid on top of a pureed sauce. the frog legs were fried well and not overly greasy. i've never had escargot before and it felt weird when i bit into it. i think it's more of the idea of it being escargot rather than the taste. i've yet to decide if i like escargot but the combination of flavors were alright. nothing really stood out and i thought it could have used a lil more salt.
my friend who loves foie gras was absolutely in love with the foie gras pate with lingonberry sauce. she was especially happy with it and i got a taste of it which was smooth and rich. i didn't try the other appetizers my friends got but they seem pretty happy with their selections.
mini course one | carrot & ginger puree
they came in these cutesy lil cups and tiny lil spoons. the first whiff i inhaled was carrot. it was a smooth puree with huge flavors of carrot with the subtle hint of ginger. and they also added a singlea airy mini profiterole. it was a good light soup in between the appetizer and entree course to cleanse the pallete.
entree | short ribs . truffle . brussel sprout . mushroom . parsnip
entree was one that took me a while to decide what i wanted. i was torn between the venison, the ono and the short ribs. but short ribs had a slight edge when i saw truffle, brussel sprout and mushroom on the list. it was a fantastic combination of flavors and textures that every bite was divine. the short ribs were cooked perfectly and i loved the thick sweet and savory sauce which combines perfectly with the mushrooms. the heavenly wedges of potatoes infused with truffles paired so well with the rest of the dish. all these were served on top of parsnip puree and caramelized brussel sprouts. there are so many things going on but yet the flavors were not overpowering each other and in fact melded together to make a fantastic dish.
mini course two | hard apple cider & grilled cheese
a lot of people on yelp highlighted this mini course as their favorite of the night and i had quite an expectation for it. they first served us the apple cider which was slightly chilled and i loved how refreshing it tasted. then the ever popular grilled cheese was served. what is so different about this grilled cheese? sharp wisconsin white cheddar with sliced honey crisp apples and caramelized onions in between oven crisped bread served with raisin whole grain mustard sauce. and what makes it more different is that they let the cheese ooze out of the sides and crisped them up so it's all salty and crispy at the edges of the bread. was very, very delish with the pairing of sharp saltiness & sweetness and all my friends especially loved this mini course. i begin to understand why so much love was shown to this mini sandwich. in fact i am gonna try to duplicate this at home :)
dessert | beets . ginger . pistachio . chocolate
i've mentioned several times in my past entries about my love for beets. although there was one other dessert that caught my attention - the bacon with apple, root beer and walnut, beets won this round. i am a lil skeptical and wary about desserts at restaurants cos i've been disappointed several times just like i was at david burke's primehouse and spring restaurant (an entry about spring restaurant coming soon).
the dessert looked really beautiful when it arrived to our table. hmm..looks promising. on one side, there was a profiterole (aka as cream puff) filled with vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate ganache and chopped pistachio. the cream puff was light and soft. on the other side, there is a quenelle of rich and creamy dark chocolate mousse and all these are tied together with diced beets. the beets tasted like they were soaked in ginger syrup which gave it a slight bite at the back of the throat. i loved it. :) who knew dark chocolate would go well with beets...(well i guess they did!) one of my friends who ordered beets as well said that she prefered the corn dessert which her bf ordered (i didn't try any) which had quite a whimsical presentation with some popcorn topping the dessert.
by the time we finished our meal, the place was bustling with people. i caught a glimpse of dale walking in the dining room heading back towards the kitchen.
overall, i enjoyed my dining experience at sprout restaurant despite some of its shortcomings. the entree and dessert were really excellent and the grilled cheese has given me a new idea of grilled cheese sandwiches. a lot of yelpers think that $65 for a prix fixe dinner was a steal but imo it was a lil pricey for me and if i do ever come back here it would be on a special occasion.
disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others