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Acadia - Fine dining in the South Loop

Acadia - Fine dining in the South Loop
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  • Acadia - Fine dining in the South Loop

    Post #1 - January 5th, 2012, 5:27 pm
    Post #1 - January 5th, 2012, 5:27 pm Post #1 - January 5th, 2012, 5:27 pm
    We just wrapped up a year where many high-end restaurants shuttered or reconcepted into more casual spots. There were some restaurants that did open in 2011 that serve this level of cuisine (Next, El, Goosefoot), but these lack the atmosphere/privacy that I sometimes enjoy when going to a nice meal. Acadia, which opened in the South Loop 10 days ago, is bucking this trend.

    I went there for dinner last week. I went in blind (no recommendations, read no reviews, didn't know of the chef) and was blown away.

    The space is gorgeous. Tall ceilings...plush seating...contemporary, but warm decor...spacious.

    The service was excellent. Our server had spent time at L2o and Trotters and knew what he was doing.

    The food tasted great and looked even better. Each plate was beautifully presented with bright colors and its contemporary look matched the vibe of the room (An LTHer with a camera needs to go). We had a potato "risotto", a foie torchon, a scallop dish and a pork belly dish for Firsts. I liked all of them. For entrees we had the Lobster and Wagyu beef. The lobster was phenomenal. It is called "Stonington Lobster Pie" on the menu. It is a perfectly cooked lobster tail served with onions, carrots, small potato balls, a small pastry and topped with a bisque tableside. Wow. I would probably skip the Tri-tip Wagyu dish and instead get the chicken presse entree next time, but I don't like beef with a ton of marbling.

    We didn't try any of their cocktails, but we had a couple of wines by the glass and had a bottle. There were plenty of wines by the glass; I could argue that the list lacked some high end choices.

    This restaurant is a tremendous value right now. The menu Firsts are $8-$15 and Seconds are $22-$32. I don't know if they intend on increasing prices in the future, but I would expect to pay 25%-30% more than they were charging. I don't know how much the location has to do with that, however.

    Acadia
    1639 south wabash avenue
    http://acadiachicago.com
    http://blog.acadiachicago.com
    312.360.9500
  • Post #2 - January 6th, 2012, 12:43 pm
    Post #2 - January 6th, 2012, 12:43 pm Post #2 - January 6th, 2012, 12:43 pm
    I'm glad to see a thread started on Acadia.

    We were there for their New Year's Eve dinner - early seating, and our feelings are mixed. Some courses absolutely sang to us, the opener lobster with "truffle foam" was heaven in a cup. Other courses, like their signature Wagyu Beef fell short in our estimation - tough meat and stone cold potatoes. The timing was very off, with the beginning courses taking forever, followed by the rest of the meal coming with no gaps whatsoever. The check arrived at the same time as the final course along with "do you need a cab, and do you have a coat checked", since it was now 9:00 and they clearly needed us out to seat the next group. Service was spotty, with some much better trained than others.

    I wish them luck, but this will be a hard sell on that stretch of Wabash. We'll certainly be back for a regular dinner service sometime soon.
  • Post #3 - January 8th, 2012, 12:04 am
    Post #3 - January 8th, 2012, 12:04 am Post #3 - January 8th, 2012, 12:04 am
    milz50 wrote:(An LTHer with a camera needs to go).

    But please don't use a flash. The space is nice, with soft lighting. It's a special occasion place. I've never had a meal ruined as I did last night because there was someone in the dining room shooting everything with a big, honkin' flash. (Not a case of the flash going off by accident.) When I mentioned it to the GM, who was brought over to talk to me when I asked for the bill prematurely, his explanation for the flash was, "She's a food blogger." The staff was trying to be helpful, but that response to the situation sucked.

    Aside from all that, the food and cocktails seemed really promising. I thoroughly enjoyed the charcuterie, and while it swung a touch sweet, the Amnesiac cocktail was compelling.
  • Post #4 - January 8th, 2012, 7:30 am
    Post #4 - January 8th, 2012, 7:30 am Post #4 - January 8th, 2012, 7:30 am
    happy_stomach wrote:
    milz50 wrote:(An LTHer with a camera needs to go).

    But please don't use a flash.


    That goes without saying...always.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - January 28th, 2012, 6:29 pm
    Post #5 - January 28th, 2012, 6:29 pm Post #5 - January 28th, 2012, 6:29 pm
    Although Acadia has only been open for a month, there is no doubting the level of talent in the kitchen. That is, some truly outstanding flavors . . . slightly marred by major pacing issues which I hope will vanish as Acadia evolves. Let me first note that the menu is now posted on the website, but I will tell you that almost every item is actually $1-2 more on the current menu (except for the chicken which is now selling for $23).

    My two favorite items of the night were risotto appetizer and the lobster pie entree. The risotto was really yukon gold potato with leek, green apple and Oregon black truffle. Amazingly, it was the flavor and texture of the potato that really elevated this dish.

    Image
    Yukon gold "risotto" with leek, green apple, Oregon black truffle and fines herbes


    The Stonington lobster pie was deconstructed and featured not merely the most perfectly cooked lobster, but a surprisingly generous portion of lobster too. While the tarragon pommes dauphine on the plate did little to impress me, the accompanying bisque was delicious, and the sour cream pastry ensured that I left minimal bisque on the plate (I still would rather have had it served in an oversized bowl however).

    Image
    Stonington lobster pie with pearl onions, carrot, sour cream pastry, bisque and tarragon pommes dauphine

    The lobster and risotto dishes were absolutely outstanding and probably as good as any restaurant food I've had in months. A couple of other appetizers also impressed quite a bit. Pork belly with red cabbage, caraway pudding, pear mostarda, candied mustard seeds and chicharrones - tender belly, flavors somewhat reminiscent of Eastern Europe, but elevated. Though it seems House made charcuterie is on every restaurant's menu these days, Acadia's version stands above most I've tried. The plate featured wild boar terrine (with mustard), a duck "ham" (with kumquat shallot confiture) and a chicken liver mousse (with mosto cotto) - all were great, although the duck ham was my favorite.

    Image
    Charcuterie - clockwise from bottom, chicken liver mousse, duck ham and wild boar terrine


    As for entrees, the black cod which was absolutely delicious and served in a New England clam chowder fashion with leeks, chowder, bacon vinaigrette and beautifully fried clams. Slightly less successful was the Deer Isle shrimp with cauliflower, cuttlefish noodles, chorizo, Marcona almonds and fried spoon bread. I thought the flavors were fine, but the overcooked and rubbery shrimp really marred the dish.

    Image
    Deer Isle shrimp

    There was an amuse I can't recall precisely, and bread service - a miniature, but delicious buttermilk biscuit with perhaps the creamiest and most delicious butter I've ever tasted.

    Desserts were not quite as successful as appetizers and entrees. Roasted pineapple with mascarpone ice cream, olive oil and fennel puree sounded very interesting, but I don't necessarily think that the sum of the parts equaled the quality of each component - it looked prettier than it tasted. The same can be said for the passion fruit toffee with banana coffee cake, cardamom, meringue and cookies. The passion fruit (more like a custard) was delicious, it worked well enough with the banana flavor, but it just didn't excite the taste buds and was merely adequate. While I can't recall every element of the cheese plate, I can tell you that cheese is the way to go here and not dessert (at least not until the quality of the dessert meets the quality of the appetizers and entrees). That being said, a parting treat of a simple cinnamon scented coffee cake was a very nice gift and turned out to be quite delicious. Perhaps this shows that while there may be pastry talent in the kitchen, they are overthinking and overcomplicating flavors and dishes.

    Image
    coffee cake parting treat

    Service was fine, but our three-course dinner (and one cocktail each) lasted 3 hours and there were long, long delays between courses. We were there on packed Saturday night - and since they've only been open for a few Saturday night, I'm assuming they'll resolve these pacing issues. They'll need to and given the obvious talent I suspect they'll be up to the task. When they are, I will really look forward to returning.
  • Post #6 - April 26th, 2012, 11:23 pm
    Post #6 - April 26th, 2012, 11:23 pm Post #6 - April 26th, 2012, 11:23 pm
    Well, well, well . . . traditional fine-dining is still very much alive and well in Chicago. Who knew?! :P

    Happily, it's residing at Acadia, which had been on my' need-to-try' list for a while and is now atop my 'must-return-soon' list. The wife and I went with friends of ours, who'd been there a few times before, and they set up the reservation for the 4 of us.

    One thing I suspected going in: the bar would be great. That's because it's helmed by Michael Simon (formerly of Black Sheep, Graham Elliot, the Boiler Room, etc.), who is engaged in his craft like almost no one else I've ever encountered. His bar is thoughtfully curated and his cocktail menu is populated by complex, signature creations that reflect his deep passion for -- and obsession with -- libations. There are house-made ingredients in many of the drinks on the menu. Even if you don't love every drink (not the case for me, lol), Mr. Simon is exactly the kind of person you want behind the bar when you show up to drink. He is, as he once jokingly described himself to me, The Sheriff of Boozetown.

    Before we took our table, we had a round of cocktails, all of which were quite delicious . . .

    Image
    White Manhattan | Low Gap white whiskey, Cocchi Ameicano, Dolin dry
    I saw a bottle of Low Gap white whiskey on the back bar and even though I'm not normally a fan of of white whiskey, this is one I really wanted to try. I'd read some very positive things about it and had not seen it anywhere else before. I asked Michael if he could create a cocktail with it for me, and this White Manhattan is what he came up with. It was really nice. I'm not sure what the other ingredients were but the whiskey combined very nicely with the dry vermouth and the sweet/bitter cocchi. This was a real treat.


    Image
    Michael Simon
    Head Bartender, aka the Sheriff of Boozetown.


    Image
    Aviator | Farmer's gin, The Bitter Truth violet, homemade lemon soda, maraschino


    Image
    Hanky Panky | Hayman's Old Tom gin, Dolin rouge, Fernet Branca, Zucca Amaro


    Image
    Rum & Kola Smash | English Harbour 5-year, homemade kola tonic, cherry bark bitters, Root, mint
    This cocktail currently includes Root liqueur but I learned on a subsequent trip to Acadia's bar that Michael is currently working on a batch of homemade root beer bitters that, I'm guessing, will replace the Root in this cocktail (and others).


    Image
    Mezcal Old Fashioned | Sombra, Allspice liqueur, tomatillo agave, mole bitters, dill & coconut ice cubes
    Michael's very proud of this cocktail and he sent it out for us to try. I'm very glad he did because it was excellent. It was smokey and complex. The use of compound ice cubes here was very well-applied, as the drink changed while the intensely flavorful cubes slowly melted and worked their way into the beverage. I've had mezcal old fashioneds plenty of times before and I've had flavored ice cubes several times, too but this drink stood out as a truly distinctive creation.

    Our friends had arranged for us to have chef/proprietor Ryan McCaskey's tasting menu, an option an I didn't realize was available. We perused the distinctive, well-priced wine list, which was assembled by sommelier and GM Jason Prah. There were some interesting, offbeat choices but since we didn't know what we were having to eat, we let Mr. Prah create pairings for us that were very well matched for the food. They're listed in the menu posted here . . .


    Image
    Tasting Menu - 12.0407


    Image
    Amuse
    Sad to say I don't remember the details about this amuse but I do remember really enjoying it.


    Image
    Beets | frisee, arugula, Ocumare "Soil" chevre, orange, fennel
    I'm kind of over beets these days but this successful salad easily overcame that obstacle. The beets were cooked perfectly and the accompanying elements were very well matched.


    Image
    Peeky Toe Crab | squash blossom, zucchini puree, grit cake, confit tomato, lemon verbena
    A magnificent dish both in terms of conception and execution. It was intricate but in a way that really made sense as the manipulation of the ingredients really allowed them to shine.


    Image
    "Risotto" | yukon gold potato, leek, green apple, perigord truffle, fines herbes
    I loved the intense flavors here. After my first bite, I thought the potato might have been a tad too al dente for me but after another bite or two, I started loving the ever-so-slight crunchiness of the potato "grains." I think if it had been cooked any further, the dish would not have worked nearly as well as it did.


    Image
    Pork Belly | red cabbage, caraway pudding, pear mostarda, candied mustard seeds, chicharrones
    A very interpretative, deconstructed and delicious take on a fairly traditional combination of components. Elevated comfort food.


    Image
    Deer Isle Shrimp | cauliflower, cuttlefish noodles, chorizo, marcona almond, squid ink vinaigrette, fried spoon bread
    This may have been my favorite dish of the night. It combined a group of ingredients, many of which are favorites of mine, into a winning dish that was far greater than the sum of its excellent parts.


    Image
    Biscuit | butter, rock salt
    This delightful interlude was snarfed down by the four of us. This steaming-hot, flakey biscuit may have been the best one I've ever eaten . . . and the simple addition of butter and rock salt took it to a whole other level.


    Image
    Gunthorp Farm Duck | foie gras custard, red wine-braised endive, ginger snap, sour cherry gel, maple gastrique, savoy cabbage
    I loved the tender duck breast and the perfect foie gras custard was not only delicious but it paired extremely well with the duck.


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    Headwaters Tomme | kumquat-shallot confiture
    I'd never had this cheese before. I loved its medium-level funkiness and thought it was a great bridge between the sweet and the savory portions of the meal.


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    Bread
    Served with the cheese.


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    Quenelle
    All I can remember for sure about this dish -- other than realy digging it -- is the fact that the stuff that looks like nuts is actually white chocolate.


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    Milk Chocolate Cremeaux | candied huckleberry, hazelnuts, meyer lemon, buttermilk sponge
    Chef McCaskey delivered this course to our table personally and explained that he just wanted to serve something comforting, like chocolate pudding. I loved that sentiment and thought the dish was terrific. It was comforting but also sophisticated without being overwrought or overthought.


    Image
    Mignardise
    More chocolates . . . m'okay. :D


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    Signing our menus
    Before we left, our friends asked the staff to sign the menus that they'd printed out for us to take home. Being the last table out, it was Miller time. :D That's chef McCaskey leaning over and our awesome server Tyrone, who did an awesome job, in the foreground on the right.

    I haven't been this enthused about a fine-dining experience in a long time. I've been lucky in that I've been able to do quite a bit of it over the past several years. But the more I do of it, the less special it becomes. Experiences run together, certain preparations and ingredients seem ubiquitous and the stand-out experiences become harder and harder to find. This meal at Acadia stands out for a number of reasons but mainly because the food and beverages were inspired and distinctive. This place is a real gem and I'd be shocked if it does not earn at least 1 Michelin star the next time stars are awarded. Bravo, to the team at Acadia for speaking with a voice that resonates above the impressive chorus that is the Chicago culinary scene.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - April 27th, 2012, 7:03 am
    Post #7 - April 27th, 2012, 7:03 am Post #7 - April 27th, 2012, 7:03 am
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the meal, and based upon your review I'm guessing you didn't suffer the pacing issue I had (which was the major issue). You'll definitely have to return and try the lobster pot pie shown in my post - really terrific.
  • Post #8 - April 27th, 2012, 9:17 am
    Post #8 - April 27th, 2012, 9:17 am Post #8 - April 27th, 2012, 9:17 am
    BR wrote:Glad to hear you enjoyed the meal, and based upon your review I'm guessing you didn't suffer the pacing issue I had (which was the major issue). You'll definitely have to return and try the lobster pot pie shown in my post - really terrific.


    On pacing, I recently had a 9:30 reservation on a Friday and was able to comfortably make it to my next appointment by 11 despite enjoying 3 courses.

    I'll add that the food and service were both tremendous. The only quibbles I had were minor. I'd like to see a traditional bread service (there was a 'bread course'...a delicious miniature biscuit served between my starter and main). The soup and sauces I encountered were exceptional, but the plating was a touch too precious to allow me to take full advantage of them. Some bread would have been helpful with this. Also, coffee service could be much improved. If you're going to only offer a press pot, you need to have better timing...an awesome passion fruit toffee helped cover the flaws of the cup, but it was an unfortunate note on which to end.
  • Post #9 - April 27th, 2012, 9:30 am
    Post #9 - April 27th, 2012, 9:30 am Post #9 - April 27th, 2012, 9:30 am
    kl1191 wrote:
    BR wrote:Glad to hear you enjoyed the meal, and based upon your review I'm guessing you didn't suffer the pacing issue I had (which was the major issue). You'll definitely have to return and try the lobster pot pie shown in my post - really terrific.


    On pacing, I recently had a 9:30 reservation on a Friday and was able to comfortably make it to my next appointment by 11 despite enjoying 3 courses.

    I'll add that the food and service were both tremendous. The only quibbles I had were minor. I'd like to see a traditional bread service (there was a 'bread course'...a delicious miniature biscuit served between my starter and main). The soup and sauces I encountered were exceptional, but the plating was a touch too precious to allow me to take full advantage of them. Some bread would have been helpful with this. Also, coffee service could be much improved. If you're going to only offer a press pot, you need to have better timing...an awesome passion fruit toffee helped cover the flaws of the cup, but it was an unfortunate note on which to end.


    These are actually the only issues I had at Acadia as well, overall, it's just a really tremendous restaurant. I would love to see the plating addressed - I had to beg the kitchen for additional bread for the lobster pot pie as I did not want to waste a bit of it and it was unspoonable being served on a plate. They were incredibly accommodating upon request, though, bringing me a selection of freshly baked items from the kitchen. Looking forward to a return visit, it's a special place.
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
  • Post #10 - April 27th, 2012, 9:45 am
    Post #10 - April 27th, 2012, 9:45 am Post #10 - April 27th, 2012, 9:45 am
    Pacing was no issue at all. In fact, it was a big part of why I enjoyed our meal so much. They kept it moving without ever making us feel rushed. Part of the fatigue that sometimes comes with fine dining is simply a matter of how long a meal can take. The pacing was adeptly handled at our meal.

    I should also add that the tasting menu was a great value at $90 per person (wine pairings were $70/pp). I've had similarly-priced tasting menus meals at some other local restaurants after which I've had to stop for dinner on the way home. :D

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - April 27th, 2012, 9:49 am
    Post #11 - April 27th, 2012, 9:49 am Post #11 - April 27th, 2012, 9:49 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Our friends had arranged for us to have chef/proprietor Ryan McCaskey's tasting menu, an option an I didn't realize was available. We perused the distinctive, well-priced wine list, which was assembled by sommelier and GM Jason Prah. There were some interesting, offbeat choices but since we didn't know what we were having to eat, we let Mr. Prah create pairings for us that were very well matched for the food. They're listed in the menu posted here . . .


    Image
    Tasting Menu - 12.0407


    How much was this tasting menu, if I may ask?
  • Post #12 - April 27th, 2012, 9:54 am
    Post #12 - April 27th, 2012, 9:54 am Post #12 - April 27th, 2012, 9:54 am
    fropones wrote:How much was this tasting menu, if I may ask?

    As posted above, $90/pp. :)

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #13 - April 27th, 2012, 10:24 am
    Post #13 - April 27th, 2012, 10:24 am Post #13 - April 27th, 2012, 10:24 am
    Woops, must have missed that one. Definitely a great value; will have to check it out soon! Great pics, btw
  • Post #14 - April 27th, 2012, 11:09 am
    Post #14 - April 27th, 2012, 11:09 am Post #14 - April 27th, 2012, 11:09 am
    The tasting menu isn't offered on the menu presented when you arrive (only a la carte). If you are interested in the tasting, call ahead. They gave me a few options. I could choose a 5 or 7 course. Additionally, they offered that I could select what items to include. I declined that, as I feel that the chef could construct a more logical menu than I. IIRC, the menus offered to me were between $80 and $105. The a la carte menu is still a tremendous value, so don't forget about that.

    Additionally, they do have a small bar menu if your just looking for a few bites. Just ask the sheriff...

    -Matt
  • Post #15 - May 25th, 2012, 6:27 am
    Post #15 - May 25th, 2012, 6:27 am Post #15 - May 25th, 2012, 6:27 am
    Wanted to add my ringing endorsement for Acadia. An anniversary dinner there last night was as delicious and pleasent of an experience as I could have asked for. The courses we sampled have all been reviewed above but I wanted to add that the deer isle shrimp were some of the best I've ever had. Extremely plump, perfectly cooked and just exploding with flavor.

    The service was also perfect, with no pacing issues at all. Perhaps the most jaw dropping part is how reasonably priced it all was. A great dining experience that I look forward to returning to.
  • Post #16 - May 28th, 2012, 7:47 am
    Post #16 - May 28th, 2012, 7:47 am Post #16 - May 28th, 2012, 7:47 am
    I do not have a lot to add to the above posts after my anniversary dinner at Acadia this past Saturday night. The food was tremendous and service was well executed and understated. The atmosphere lends itself to having a conversation, as the room is not loud and table spacing is excellent. I will note that the tasting menu now appears to be regularly offered as both the 5 course and 11 course tasting menus were listed as options. We opted for the 5 course ($85) + wine pairings ($45), and found that both were good value. Favorites on the food were the "risotto" and the lobster pot pie, both of which have been covered in detail above. Would go back just for those two dishes. There was also a frog's leg and veal course, both cooked to perfection and tasty. Dessert was just ok to me, I am not huge on sweets to begin with, but this did nothing to make me want to eat more than a few tastes.

    I also started with a gin cocktail that was very refreshing and had a cucumber note in it that took me a few sips to place.

    Overall, would highly recommend for a special occasion.
  • Post #17 - June 3rd, 2012, 9:26 am
    Post #17 - June 3rd, 2012, 9:26 am Post #17 - June 3rd, 2012, 9:26 am
    Having enjoyed Chef M's work at Courtwrights, I was looking for an opportunity to sample it at Acadia. It was a weekday evening, traffic was awful, and we had tickets for Hubbard Street, so it was all quite rushed (we arrived 40 minutes late). They got us out in about an hour, with no problem.

    Dishes echoed most of what is listed above. Brought my own wine as is my habit - corkage is no bargain at $35, but the second bottle was offered at no charge. The amuse was a house cured head cheese dressed, Quite tasty.

    The starters did not work so well for me. The potato risotto that my wife had, and only gave me one bite, was overwhelmed by the crunchy potatoes and leeks. I could see the truffles, and I know I ate a good-sized shaving, but the taste was overwhelmed. Having read Ronnie's review of a similar version of this dish, it seems my reaction was a lot like his first impression, so maybe it would have improved with a few more bites, but it was the Bride's starter. I had the Swan Creek Duck Egg. It was pretty tasty, the smoky potatoes, crunchy asparagus, and ramp dressing all came together well. The poached egg was quite large, and a bit strange. It almost seemed to be encapsulated in gelatin, with a strange texture. I asked the waiter how it had been prepared, and he reported it was just poached with vinegar. Strange texture detracted a little for me.

    The mains were wonderful. We went with seafood and shared dishes. Nothing to add on the Stonington Lobster pot pie, beyond that I loved how the lobster was cooked, just this side of raw, excellent taste and texture. My experience with the Deer Isle Shrimp was similar - perfectly, gently cooked, cuttle fish noodles were tasty and fun. Both mains were great.

    Great tea service - enjoyed the vintage Pu Erh with blood orange. Can't remember dessert, though I know it was very good.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #18 - June 17th, 2012, 5:44 pm
    Post #18 - June 17th, 2012, 5:44 pm Post #18 - June 17th, 2012, 5:44 pm
    Most of what I have to say about our recent weekend dinner here would echo the above (primarily the positive) experiences, with special praise going to the potato risotto and a perfectly cooked piece of sturgeon (surrounded by all sorts of different flavors, none of which overwhelmed it). We tried only one dessert, though, but this category might still be a work in progress; the strawberry-rhubarb compote and fromage blanc sorbet were superb, but the purpose of the black olive puree--despite the accompanying olive oil cake--was a bit of a mystery to me.

    We also experienced some of the best service I've had in Chicago: welcoming, informative, timely, and efficient--all without being in the least bit intrusive.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #19 - July 1st, 2012, 9:41 pm
    Post #19 - July 1st, 2012, 9:41 pm Post #19 - July 1st, 2012, 9:41 pm
    I'd been hearing rumblings all week and sure enough, per Eater.com, Michael Simon, The Sheriff of Boozetown, has left Acadia. :(

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #20 - August 11th, 2012, 4:30 pm
    Post #20 - August 11th, 2012, 4:30 pm Post #20 - August 11th, 2012, 4:30 pm
    There is a great deal to really like about Acadia. For starters, I called on Wednesday and got a 5:30 reservation for that Friday. While that may have been a bit fortunate, reservations do not seem that difficult here. I also noted that the bar was largely empty even when we left, and I think you can order most anthing there. Although they offer valet, parking on the street is very easy. The "mechanics" of eating at Acadia, therefore, are very easy, which is not always the case in Chicago these days.

    As for the food, we did the 6 course tasting menu (they have 6 or 10). Those six courses don't count the amuse, the mini-biscuit course and the blueberry sorbet. We also shared an added course of fois gras. It ended up being a large meal, but not unduly so.

    The quality of the food was uniformly excellent. My favorite course was an all allium plate that that onions, leeks and fennel in mutiple forms. My only very minor critique would be that the chocolate dessert was way too safe. It was well made, but nothing memorable. They should step it up there, a bit.

    I did the wine pairing, which were unusual and some of the best I've had. Sorry that I can't remember the name of a single bottle, but the highlight was a wine that had several spices and aromatics added which was served with the cheese course.

    The price seems a bit below what is generally charged for this kind of meal in Chicago, which is also nice. If you just had an appetizer and main dish, this would not be particulary expensive.
  • Post #21 - November 12th, 2012, 10:15 am
    Post #21 - November 12th, 2012, 10:15 am Post #21 - November 12th, 2012, 10:15 am
    Just wanted to see if there are any new thoughts/reviews on the two different tasting menus now available at Acadia. We had a heck of a dinner this past spring before they were available but are taking some out of town friends this weekend and are trying to weigh the options.
  • Post #22 - November 13th, 2012, 11:30 am
    Post #22 - November 13th, 2012, 11:30 am Post #22 - November 13th, 2012, 11:30 am
    I barely remember what we ate on the tasting menu a few weeks ago, but it was all excellent. I really like this place and its atmosphere.
  • Post #23 - December 2nd, 2012, 11:09 am
    Post #23 - December 2nd, 2012, 11:09 am Post #23 - December 2nd, 2012, 11:09 am
    We stopped in Acadia to eat at the bar. We got there on a Saturday around 5:30, so there was only one other couple at the bar. When we left around 6:30 there were maybe two other couples in the bar. While they have a bar menu, they said we could order anything off the regular menu. Given that we were sitting at a very nice table, with full service, this could be a way to eat at Acadia without making a reservation. We found eating at the table for two, of which they have about 5 (plus about 6 seats at the bar), just as nice as eating in the main dining room. I don't think this will work for larger parties, but for two it's perfect.

    We were there to try to bar menu, and weren't disappointed. We started by sharing a charcuterie plate, which was excellent. Nothing groundbreaking, but all well done. After that, my wife had the lobster roll and I had the burger. Mundane items taken to a very high level. The lobster roll was surely the best we've had; perfectly sweet meat with must the right amount of dressing. The burger comes with onion jam, some bacon bits and a slightly spicy Russian dressing, all on an impossibly buttery roll. I can only compare it to the burger at Minnetta Tavern in New York, which was different, but no better. For dessert my wife had something with squash, lots of chocolate and maple syrup, which she really liked.

    All this plus two cocktails and glass of wine came to $94 before tip. Not cheap, but in my mind well worth it for everything that we got. Given this price, the excellent service, and the fact that you don't need a reservation to get this quality food on a Saturday night, we'll be back.

    Jonah
  • Post #24 - December 7th, 2012, 9:10 am
    Post #24 - December 7th, 2012, 9:10 am Post #24 - December 7th, 2012, 9:10 am
    I had dinner at Acadia last night and it was outstanding. I could summarize it but Ronnie's summary nailed it so well that I don't need to:

    ronnie_suburban wrote:I haven't been this enthused about a fine-dining experience in a long time. I've been lucky in that I've been able to do quite a bit of it over the past several years. But the more I do of it, the less special it becomes. Experiences run together, certain preparations and ingredients seem ubiquitous and the stand-out experiences become harder and harder to find. This meal at Acadia stands out for a number of reasons but mainly because the food and beverages were inspired and distinctive. This place is a real gem and I'd be shocked if it does not earn at least 1 Michelin star the next time stars are awarded. Bravo, to the team at Acadia for speaking with a voice that resonates above the impressive chorus that is the Chicago culinary scene.

    Incidentally, nice prediction for Ronnie; Acadia did indeed earn a Michelin star. And IMHO it could easily have been awarded two; it was that good.

    Here are a few additional notes I'll add.

    Beware when you're arriving, because there is NO outside signage. A parking valet was the only sign that the place was occupied. And it gets worse; the outer front door sticks, giving the impression that it's locked. But then you notice the name on the interior wall, and you know you're in the right place.

    The first sign of exceptional service - and there are many - is when the host takes your coat and doesn't give you a number, because he remembers everyone and will bring you your garment.

    The decor is contemporary and beautiful.

    We ordered a la carte rather than the six-course tasting. I had two first courses (appetizers), one second course (entrees), and one dessert, and that seemed about right. And of course the amuse bouche and mignardise.

    Chef does a masterful job of providing contrasts of flavors and textures in each dish. The amuse bouche was cured salmon with a tiny bit of strikingly tart lemon sauce. The 5-spice foie gras was excellent, although when it first arrived it was cold in the middle, so I sent it back to have them warm it through. Most foie gras presentations have one sweet element; this had two, diced pineapple and a small scoop of chocolate gelato. The soup, butternut squash veloute, had a broken-up coffee cookie in it (thankfully there was not much coffee flavor to it; surprisingly it was fairly sweet) and one of the elements was a strong lime-flavored smear on the bowl.

    Those little biscuits were amazing. Just amazing. They were topped with cracked sea salt - again, a contrast of flavors and textures between the salt, the biscuit, and the butter. They were really hot, which IMHO is a sign of great bread service.

    The duck - ahhh, the duck! - was really great. It was prepared sous vide, which I love as a preparation technique for duck. (The only other place I have had it that way was a couple of years ago at Vivere, where Chef McCaskey was chef de cuisine 1999-2001, so it may not be a coincidence.) At many places, duck breast is seared and ends up rare in the middle, well-done on the outside, and to me neither is particularly appealing. With the sous vide technique, the duck comes out uniformly cooked (and is all meat, no need to trim fat). When I was ordering, I asked Marcus, our helpful server, about the doneness, and he said chef normally cooks it to 135F, although a true medium-rare is 140F. I told him I prefer mine more of a true medium-rare and requested it done to 140F, and it was perfect for me.

    The desserts threw me for a loop, because the descriptions on the menu don't do them justice, and three of the four sounded so similar (a chocolate-based dessert, roast pineapple, poached pear, and roast apple). I got the apple and it was way better than the description. The apple part was good... but wait, there's more! The description mentioned cinnamon custard and canele ice cream. What it came with was a small scoop of ice cream that may have been cinnamon flavored (?), and a one-inch sphere that was sort of like a firm panna cotta and which I LOVED. The dessert was on a bed of graham-cracker-flavored crumbs, and was topped with... I don't know what to call them, but they looked like the thin rice noodles you sometimes get at Chinese restaurants, and tasted like graham crackers. Anyway, this was a terrific dessert, and I never would have imagined liking it so much based on the description on the dessert menu.

    I thought the prices were very fair, and significantly less than many comparable restaurants; we had two glasses of wine, four appetizers, two entrees, one dessert, and an iced tea, and the bill was $157 plus $17 tax plus tip.

    The service was flawless. The serving team (there were many) were very helpful, doing all the right things, including the subtleties that you expect from a 2- or 3-star Michelin restaurant. And, to add just one comment to Ronnie's summary, what you expect from a 2- or 3-star Michelin restaurant is food that wows you with deliciousness, one dish after another after another. Acadia accomplishes this brilliantly. This is one of the very best restaurants in Chicago right now. Bravo, Acadia!
  • Post #25 - January 27th, 2013, 11:23 am
    Post #25 - January 27th, 2013, 11:23 am Post #25 - January 27th, 2013, 11:23 am
    Recent talk of the burger at Acadia elsewhere on this forum had me heading there with a friend after Zero Dark Thirty at the nearby Roosevelt Road Icon Theaters. I had the burger, my friend the banh mi, and we split the potato chips and bread and butter pickles. The chips and pickles were terrific. My friend liked the banh mi but found the bread too hard for the sandwich (I didn't try).

    I had the burger. First, I can see why someone would love the burger even though it wasn't ideal for my tastes. The bun was buttery and terrific as Jonah notes. The meat was medium rare as requested and as lightly packed as possible and nicely seasoned. My only complaint is that the bacon and onion jam overwhelmed the beef flavor some with sweetness and smokiness. No problem - I scraped them off for the most part (they were tasty on their own) and enjoyed the burger more. Also, my friend didn't want the hot peppers from his banh mi so I added them on (my favorite burger accompaniment). I tend to be a burger minimalist so take my complaints re: the bacon and onion jam with a grain of salt.

    The burger is also served with a potato salad, which while packing a good dose of mayonnaise, not surprisingly featured perfectly cooked potatoes and was absolutely delicious.

    A couple of cocktails, a dessert and a light dinner made for a very nice and quick post-movie visit to Acadia.
  • Post #26 - January 27th, 2013, 1:04 pm
    Post #26 - January 27th, 2013, 1:04 pm Post #26 - January 27th, 2013, 1:04 pm
    As someone who was not aware of the burger and other bar menu offerings, I thank you for the report. It should probably also be mentioned that the burger is part of the menu served in the bar at the entrance to the restaurant, and not part of the dinner menu in the main dining room. The bar room is pretty good sized, and has some small tables as well as seating at the bar. I'm guessing it is rarely if ever full, so you can expect to walk right in for immediate seating. That was certainly true of the weeknight I ate in the dining room. (Please correct me if I'm wrong about that, at least on weekends.)
  • Post #27 - February 13th, 2013, 11:34 pm
    Post #27 - February 13th, 2013, 11:34 pm Post #27 - February 13th, 2013, 11:34 pm
    Lobster roll with fresh salt and vinegar chips and the pho-spiced pork belly banh mi with house pickles were the two best sandwiches I've had so far this year; my partner for splitting agreed. I note they'll also do takeout on the bar menu (and that's an easy stretch of Wabash to park or pull up at most hours).
  • Post #28 - February 15th, 2013, 5:40 pm
    Post #28 - February 15th, 2013, 5:40 pm Post #28 - February 15th, 2013, 5:40 pm
    New menus are now available, as reported by Eater here.
  • Post #29 - February 16th, 2013, 9:48 am
    Post #29 - February 16th, 2013, 9:48 am Post #29 - February 16th, 2013, 9:48 am
    Lobster roll with fresh salt and vinegar chips and the pho-spiced pork belly banh mi with house pickles were the two best sandwiches I've had so far this year; my partner for splitting agreed. I note they'll also do takeout on the bar menu (and that's an easy stretch of Wabash to park or pull up at most hours).


    Just to help complete the bar menu (and I also agree with the comments on the high quality of the burger mentioned above), the plump mussels swim in a flavorful broth constructed from one of the artisanal beers. My only complaint here is that the single slice of butter-bespeckled focaccia offered to sop it up was hardly sufficient to deal with the quantity of liquid left behind (which was a bit too strong to slurp on its own). Management supplied some brioche when entreated and the situation was remedied.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #30 - February 16th, 2013, 12:21 pm
    Post #30 - February 16th, 2013, 12:21 pm Post #30 - February 16th, 2013, 12:21 pm
    Been skimming the thread for when it opens - does anyone know? Hoping to grab a pre-Django lobster roll and probably need to get there at 5:30 to make it work.

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