Thursday, February 28, 2008

Media Tasting: Deleece

Last night Tighe and I had cocktails and a 5 course tasting menu at Deleece in Lakeview. The drinks weren't like anything I've tried before and the dishes packed enough flavor to cure my tuna-from-a-can-with-day-old-lettuce lunch funk. The restaurant's exposed brick interior, dark cherry floors and warm lighting didn't hurt either.

After arriving (and convincing Tighe that the photographer was not going to destroy her food writing career by plastering her face all over the internet) we parked it at the bar and were given two different cocktails made with Shochu. The first was a mix of blood orange (the sexiest fruit ever, next to pomegranate) and coconut milk. Normally I'm not a fan of cream in my alcohol, but I am a lush and it was free so I gave it a go. The milk was so subtle that I probably wouldn't have detected it had I not been told the ingredients beforehand. The second cocktail was not at all to my liking: apple and leche; I let Tighe handle that one on her own.

It probably didn't hurt that the Shochu drinks were complimentary, but the people here were loving this obscure import; a good sign for owners, Lynne Wallack and John Handler, who are naming their newest restaurant after the stuff. Shochu is slated to open this April and, much like Deleece, will offer eclectic fare (mostly contemporary American with a Japanese twist) using fresh ingredients and novel concepts. Executive chef Josh Hansen (culinary mastermind behind Deleece's menu) will be manning the kitchen.

If the menu at Shochu is at all similar to our 5 course tasting, I'll be adding it to my list of favorites.

Here's what we ate:
  1. Polenta layered with smoked shallot mushroom duxelle
  2. Salad of morels and grilled asparagus in a white soy pancetta vinaigrette
  3. Seared diver scallop with braised fennel, pimenton risotto and a light basil aioli
  4. Grilled NY strip with truffle mashed potatoes, baby carrots and port wine demi-glace
  5. Blueberry Basque cake
4004 N. Southport Ave.
(773) 325-1710

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