Windy City Bites: Entente
3056 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60657
While I was in the midst of my foodie reconnaissance for an upcoming trip to Chicago, I stumbled across a restaurant new to the Chicago dining scene, Entente. As I began to read through several articles, I became very excited and knew this was a must during my visit. At the helm of this new venture is Chef Brian Fisher, formerly of Michael Carlson's Schwa and Chef Mari Katsumura, formerly of Curtis Duffy's Grace. With that combination of culinary prowess, I knew I would be in for a treat.
I made reservations several weeks in advance because you all know, I am a planner. Not having dinner reservations is like walking out the door without your cell phone. You don't do it. Regardless, I was able to secure a reservation at my desired time. They were even kind enough to accommodate a last minute party change, increasing our number from two to three.
I had scouted out the menu well in advance and perused their Instagram to see which dishes I couldn't miss. Little did I know, I would want the entire menu. As we were escorted to the back of the restaurant, I couldn't help but feel the overall energy. From the wait staff to the restaurant patrons, everyone was very easy going and laid back, quite the converse from most fine dining establishments.
Even though I wanted to be calculated about our order, we couldn't help ourselves and ordered everything but three menu items. No FOMO here! After all, the menu is always changing, I didn't want to risk missing out on a quintessential dish.
And so it began...
Thank goodness I have friends that will throw caution and calories to the wind when we dine. We started our meal with the Pumpernickel Pretzel and Buttermilk Biscuit. Let's face facts, I am a Southerner through and through and I was not about to miss out on a buttermilk biscuit. Served with Benton's Ham, beer cheese fondue and pineapple, three teardrop shaped pretzel rolls made their way to our table. In my book, pretzels and cheese each have their own food groups, so I'll admit my opinion is not an objective one. It was a stellar dish and the incorporation of Benton's ham was sheer perfection. Without a doubt, a winner.
The buttermilk biscuit was moist and flaky and good enough to get this Southern girl's stamp of approval. The seasonal butter was by far from basic, rather it will light and filled with intense flavor leaving you wanting more.
As we finished our carb fest, we moved on to something a bit healthier. I saw a photo of the Wedge salad on Instagram and knew that was a must, but our server insisted that the Kale Caesar was also a can't miss. When in doubt? Order both! What the hell, you only live once!
Out first was the Wedge which was served with Benton's bacon, cambozola, tomatoes and the most delicious green goddess dressing EVER. This my friends is not your typical wedge salad, but more of a deconstructed wedge reminiscent almost of a wreath. The saltiness and smokiness of the Benton's bacon was the perfect compliment to the creamy dressing. My mouth is literally watering as I write this. Bottom line, make sure you order this dish.
Next was the Kale Caesar. I really enjoy both kale and Caesar salads, so after experiencing the other courses, I was interested to see Entente's creation. What a gorgeous masterpiece. The hearty kale dish was paired with fried capers, charred lemon and Japanese fried smelt topped lightly with Parmesan shavings. The dish, which was quite large in size, had spicy undertones and thinly shaved croutons that added just enough flare. While I enjoyed Entente's rendition of this salad, the Wedge was the overall winner of this course.
As we transitioned to the entrees for the evening, I was brimming with excitement. If the entrees were half as delectable and creative as the first few courses, I knew we were in for a treat. Friends, let me tell you, Chef Brian did not disappoint. The Chicken was the first dish to make an appearance at our table. I know, I'm sure several of you are thinking, why the hell would you go to a nice restaurant and order chicken. I can assure you, it's not the norm, but after hearing the server describe it, I knew it would be amazing. And I was not the least bit disappointed. The chicken breast was roasted to perfection topped with the tiniest amount of sea salt flakes. Now let's talk about all of that deliciousness next to the chicken breast. Appearing as a gorgeous garden near the chicken was a combination of flageolet, escarole sausage, and onion. It was a nice compliment to the moist, flavorful chicken.
Next on the itinerary was the Octopus. After reading the menu, I was intrigued to see how these flavors would blend together and balance out one another. Served with eggplant, olive, espelette, romanesco and potato, this dish was not for the faint of heart. I have quite a crush on olives. Green or red, it doesn't matter. While some may find the olives to be a bit overpowering, I was quite fond of their presence. The potatoes provided the slightest bit of creaminess necessary to meld the other ingredients together.
At this point in the meal, I was dying. My eyes were way bigger than my stomach and I was on the verge of exploding. However, we still had one more entree to go. I took a breather and prepared myself for what was to come. What else could you have possibly ordered, you ask? Our last hoorah was the Duck, by far one of the most interesting dishes of the evening. Served with forbidden rice, unagi, chrysanthemum, watermelon rind and burdock root, the presentation was exquisite. Presented with a myriad of textures, I wasn't quite sure how to approach the dish, so I jumped right in. The crispy bites of duck were complimented by the forbidden rice and the unagi added the next level of flavor that was simply divine.
What meal would be complete without dessert, right? After reading so many amazing things about Chef Mari Katsumura, I couldn't come this far and not tackle dessert. Keeping with the theme of indulgence, we ordered not one, but two desserts. I know, we are certifiable :) Emerging from the kitchen was this gorgeous Profiterole served with ribbons of chocolate and morsels of sour cherries. Almost too pretty to devour, I thoroughly enjoyed the crackled brown exterior as it was the perfect pairing for the rich creamy filling on the inside. Mix that with the bits of sassafrass, shiso and sour cherry and you have yourself one perfect little bite!
Our final course of the evening was a creative twist on a Spanish dessert. Being one of my all time favorite desserts, I was thrilled to see Tres Leches on the menu. Having a preconceived notion of this soggy, rich cake, I was quite surprised when it was presented to the table. The overall presentation and concept of the dish was gorgeous, the cornflake tuile was beyond beautiful, but I was rather underwhelmed with the combination of flavors. Expecting rich buttery/caramel flavors, those were ever so silent undertones throughout the dish.
Entente is a welcomed addition to the Lakeview neighborhood and is one restaurant that should be on your radar. Chef Brian's imaginative yet approachable take on food is quite a breath of fresh air. The robust wine and cocktail list not only has personality but pairability and the staff is more than willing to assist with your selection. While this restaurant hasn't officially received any Michelin ratings, I wouldn't be surprised if they showed up on the list in 2018.
Until next time!