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Thurk- underground dining

Thurk- underground dining
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  • Thurk- underground dining

    Post #1 - October 29th, 2012, 11:47 am
    Post #1 - October 29th, 2012, 11:47 am Post #1 - October 29th, 2012, 11:47 am
    A month or so ago here I saw a post here on LTHForum by a chef looking for places to do underground dining events. It happens to be that I have such a space, having set up my apartment as basically a giant dining room with a decent kitchen. I met Justin for coffee one morning and I thought, well, let's take a risk and do this!

    Justin's underground pop-up is called Thurk and he now has a reservation system set up. The one on the 9th is also at my place and the rest are at a variety of other places. The 30th is at my friend Tomek's place.

    Overall the weird thing was having a dinner party and not having to do anything at all. Justin Behlke and his sous chef brought all their equipment, even the plates/cutlery...everything. And when they left, the place was spotless. It was insane.

    I drank coffee and honestly lazed about in my library while they did the final prep, fresh warm mini loaves of sourdough coming out of the oven and scents of apple and autumn sifting out of my kitchen

    I loved his attention to detail, which was evident in the place-setting, which had a lovely homemade paper menu of created by a local artist.

    and lovely crunchy pickles made from local vegetables and little boxes of smoked nuts

    Justin and sous chef working

    Amuse of homemade crunchy malt cracker with goat cheese and forest of fresh herbs

    I loved his use of local earthy autumn vegetables, many which I typically dislike, but he did a wonderful job making even broccoli appetizing to me
    this was a broccoli - buttermilk custard, with the shaved stems providing a nice contrast to the silky custard. I think one of the only issues I had here was with the plating, which doesn't photograph well and looks a bit blobby.

    Chestnuts apples and marjoram, was nutty and very herbal and fresh tasting

    One of my favorite courses, the duck with fall lettuces and pears. It had seared duck breast plus fatty wonderful duck rillettes that were nicely cut by the acidity of the pear.


    Another favorite course of mine: homemade creamy ricotta, crunchy chicken skin, a wonderful meaty chanterelle, and a broth of grassy dandelion. I also loved the lamb tartare with the fresh bread, but didn't get a picture of that unfortunately.

    BYOB fun

    Also hard to photograph, but very good- a beet mousse with chewey sunflower bread and sour concord grapes. Loved it.

    Horrifying aftermath of the party.

    You can find the full menu here and I think there are seats available at the upcoming dinners. I am planning to write more about my experience on my blog, but lately it has been taking me a long time to write posts.

    It was a wonderful experience and I'm glad it happened at my place. He is also looking for more spaces to have dinners
  • Post #2 - February 28th, 2013, 10:00 pm
    Post #2 - February 28th, 2013, 10:00 pm Post #2 - February 28th, 2013, 10:00 pm
    So Justin now does them at his own apartment which is on the Humbolt Park/Logan Square border near Scofflow, which has definitely allowed him to refine things. I had a meal there last month that was excellent and I wrote a post about it and the browser crashed before I could post anything :( But here is what I can remember. He is still using pretty much 100% local, even in the dead of winter, with impressive results.

    A really excellent clear and savory pork broth poured over lightly fermented cabbage and a perfect egg yolk.

    A creamy trout pie with a buttery crust

    Luscious dumplings made with fresh cheese balanced nicely by some earthy winter roots

    The meal was hearty, but not heavy. It is a very naturalistic style of food. I brought a variety of delicious ciders and beers which worked great with the food.

    Overall, definitely one of my favorite finds via LTHforum.
  • Post #3 - March 17th, 2013, 2:05 pm
    Post #3 - March 17th, 2013, 2:05 pm Post #3 - March 17th, 2013, 2:05 pm
    I neglected to take pictures, but I had a wonderful dinner at Justin's place last night. The food was nearly 100% local and expertly prepared. All 8 of us there last night were quite happy with the meal.
  • Post #4 - March 17th, 2013, 9:49 pm
    Post #4 - March 17th, 2013, 9:49 pm Post #4 - March 17th, 2013, 9:49 pm
    I also dined recently at Thurk with a group of nine friends and we had such a fun time. I too have no pictures to share (sorry Steinfeld) as the lighting was rather dark. Food wise it reminded me most of Iliana Regan's underground venue (One Sister) that she ran before opening Elizabeth in that much of the ingredients were local, an emphasis on vegetables, some foraged goods, and Justin played a large role procuring everything and trying to keep as much as possible local. Very impressive, especially for the winter season; amazing what he does in such a small kitchen and for being so young! Most of the courses tasted really good, some outstanding (and there were a lot of interesting flavors and creativity). The biggest difference than One Sister is the dishes are generally more simple than Iliana's were and lack her whimsical component. Probably my only negative of the experience was the only meat dish was a chicken dish; I would have enjoyed a bit more meat to balance out the heavy vegetable focus and make the meal a bit heartier, but all-in-all I loved my meal at Thurk and was really impressed with Justin. At $70 for 13 courses it was quite a bargain too; for the spring most of the dinners are apparently going to be a bit more expensive, but he is expanding the number of courses. He is really going to be a star down the road.
    Twitter: @Goof_2