Friday, October 27, 2006

BRASSERIE JO is the place to go in Chicago

Last night I had to dine early before those silly 730pm opera curtains, so I chose BRASSERIE JO ( 59 W Hubbard), the Alsatian bistro of Chef Jean Joho, who reigns over EVEREST, where I dined earlier this year in Chicago. It was just a block or two from our hotel, so I was happy and hungry when I showed up as the weather was turning chilly to boot.

The wonderfully cheery staff set me up at a streetview table in the very tall room with its hints of Art deco decor. I enjoyed the plate of carrot sticks in an intensely mustardy slaw-like sauce, and realized that I was back in the real Alsatian cuisine I so adored several years ago. My server, Andy, brought over the list of specials and I was hooked in two seconds on the TARTE FLAMBEE ALSACIEN (literally a thin crust Alsatian-style pizza) with DUCK CONFIT, ROASTED PUMPKIN, MUSTARD AIOLI, Onions and Herbs. I sipped a yummy glass of GUSTAVE LORENZ 2004 Pinot Gris Reserve from Alsace of course! The tarte arrived and I was in heaven, but was afraid I could not eat an entire entree because it was huge (they are prices at $7-9!!).

Restaurant Manager David Johnston came over to welcome me and proffered TWO small plates of SAUCISSONS en CROUTE with tasty sausage in a brioche croute over a yummy mustard sauce and lentils. By now I was drinking KLIPFEL RIESLING 2004 which was very dry and indeed tart with apples with lots of fruit at the back of the tongue. It worked wonderfully with all the mustard flavors, as they are so tart as well.

After long consultation with Andy I chose the STEAK TARTARE with POMMES FRITES. The 6 ounces of gorgeous meat came with an intense spicy and mustard flavor (Alsace, again) on plate resting on a bed of ice to keep the meat cool. The frites were thin and crispy, not a soggy one in the bunch. I enjoyed this with a glass of KALI HEART 2004 PINOT NOIR from MONTEREY Valley, California that exhibited a bit of spice to work in harmony with the tartare!

Dessert was tough, so I passed by the Pumpkin Creme Brulee, Poires Belle Helene, World Renowned Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce (which appeared to be almost 8 inches tall at the next table served with a 1/2 quart of sauce!) and the Iles Flottants, and took instead a CUPPA JO, literally, as the coffee comes in cups marked "Brasserie Jo."

I will, however, get the chance to report on more and to have dessert, as I have convinced everyone here with us in Chicago to go back again tomorrow night!