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Galit: Israeli in Lincoln Park

Galit: Israeli in Lincoln Park
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  • Post #31 - May 14th, 2019, 7:28 pm
    Post #31 - May 14th, 2019, 7:28 pm Post #31 - May 14th, 2019, 7:28 pm
    I went last Tuesday for a solo dinner before a show at Lincoln Hall, and as such was only able to try a small portion of the menu that's already been extensively covered above. So I will add only my comments about the dessert I had, which was a take on khachapuri (a traditional savory Georgian pastry -- the restaurant is clearly embracing the broad view of "Middle East" that includes the southern Caucasus): puff pastry filled with hazelnut cream and some lovely roasted apricot, topped with tarragon ice cream. Each component was delicious, especially the tarragon ice cream, but all eaten together as a single bite didn't really meld well for me.

    (Plus I found I prefer the cheesy salty glory of the traditional Georgian khachapuri to the sweet -- maybe Galit will find a way to incorporate the savory version into its menu someday.)
  • Post #32 - May 17th, 2019, 11:38 pm
    Post #32 - May 17th, 2019, 11:38 pm Post #32 - May 17th, 2019, 11:38 pm
    Four of us descended on Galit earlier this week and ripped a pretty wide path through the menu. The consensus was very favorable. I thought it was a great meal, with dishes ranging from very good to outstanding. While there were some items I liked more than others, we didn't order anything I wouldn't happily order again. Israeli? Maybe to some degree but based on the descriptions and origins of many items on the menu, it's seems clear that Galit is trying to be a lot more than that.

    The menu is divided into 3 sections: Hummus, Salatim and (mostly) Over Coal. One and three are fairly self-explanatory. The Salatim is self-contained and consists of baked-to-order pita and a variety of mezze-style pickles, cheeses, etc.

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    Pita
    As mentioned above, these were served as part of the Salatim, which included five small, mezze-style portions of labneh, cipollini onions & feta, assorted pickles, roasted brussels sprouts and ezme. Pita just doesn't get any better than this . . . piping hot, beautifully blistered, pillowy-light and pleasantly chewy. The mezze were delicious, too (sorry I missed that shot).

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    Trumpet Mushroom Hummus - collard greens, harissa, gribenes
    Did someone say gribenes? This hummus was outstanding, a creamy and unctuous umami bomb.

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    Masabacha - chickpeas, herby tehina, aleppo
    Terrific combination of flavors here and again, perfectly smooth and creamy texture, with the exception of the whole chickpeas, which provided a very nice textural contrast.

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    Wood-Roasted Asparagus - barberries, pecans, smoky & spicy at the end
    The asparagus had a great, wood-fired flavor that matched up particularly well with the other components.

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    Beets - black garlic, dill, tehina, pumpernickel bits
    An excellent and thoughtful combination of flavors and textures . . . and visually stunning, too.

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    Iraqi Kubbeh Halab - crispy saffron crust, lamb, golden raisins & almonds
    These kubbeh were excellent. I loved how the lamb really came through and I could have eaten a bunch of these bad boys. The sauce (comprised of the raisins and almonds, I think) was a bit too sweet for me but my companions were oohing and aahing over it.

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    Falafel - funky mango, labneh, Persian pickled turnips
    Not much to say here other than this was a pristine and perfect take on something I've eaten dozens, if not hundreds, of times.

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    Chicken Thigh - crispy skin, harissa, peas, whipped feta cheese
    Loved the crispy skin and juicy meat here.

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    Fried Fish Tunisian Style - all the dips, lemon & herbs
    This was a combination of redfish and catfish, both fried to crispy perfection. I thought the seasoning with which it was dusted after it came out of the fryer was excellent. It gave the fish a pronounced, zippy lift.

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    All The Dips - (clockwise from bottom): Avocado-Labneh, Tehina, Harissa
    These were great with the fish and some of the other items on the table at the time. I cannot verify that I have them 100% correct but I think I do.

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    Shakshukah - farm eggs, coal-roasted sweet potatoes, so many fresh herbs, with one laffa on the saj
    I really appreciate how well-made this dish was. Having made it a few times myself, with widely varying degrees of success, I was excited to find perfectly jiggly, runny-yolked eggs here. On top of that (literally) was a bright and bold tomato sauce, with tender pieces of sweet potato, and an aromatic pile of fresh herbs.

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    Balkan Stuffed Cabbage - lamb kebab, harissa, labneh
    This might have been my favorite dish of the entire meal. The lamb was so flavorful and moist. And I loved the way the intensely flavored, mildly spicy sauce brought the whole dish together. There was a noticeable cinnamon note here, too, which would normally not wow me but it was in perfect balance with the other components and I thought it accentuated the dish as a whole really well.

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    Desserts (clockwise from bottom):
    Basbousa, Krembo, Strawberry Sorbet
    As shown on the menu, the sorbet was made by "the incredible Meg Galus" and it was truly amazing. I couldn't believe how intense, tart and vibrant the strawberry flavor was. I also liked the basbousa, which featured a moist, dense and not overly sweet semolina cake. I was pretty neutral on the krembos, which reminded me of the mallomars I could never stand as a kid! :P

    Along the way, we had a bit from the bar -- a few nicely balanced, food-friendly cocktails at the start and then later, a few glasses of wine and a couple of interesting canned beers. At the end, some Israeli Arak, as well. The selection of spirits on the back bar was not monstrous but it was well curated.

    Ok, what else? The west-facing dining room, which let in a flood of natural light, was beautiful and comfortable. Light-toned wood throughout, soothing, glossy-blue subway tile and lots of stainless. The kitchen and the bar, on opposite sides of the main room, are both open. We started at 5:00 and it definitely filled up shortly thereafter but even as the room hit capacity, our conversation was not challenged by noise.

    Service was stellar. It seemed like they were very much in 'all hands on deck' mode, which I normally associate with a place that's just opened. Galit's been open a little longer than that but considering how busy it's been, this made perfect sense. It seems they are pulling out all the stops to make sure that service is on a par with the food and I think they succeeded. It felt like a place that had been open for years, not weeks.

    Before tip, our meal for four clocked in at $320, so definitely not inexpensive but for this kind of across-the-board high-quality dining experience, it was absolutely worth the splurge. And we clearly ordered more than we needed to because it was our first time and we really wanted to try a lot of things. That's not to say we had any food left over because . . . well, we didn't. :wink:

    =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 #33 - May 18th, 2019, 8:23 am
    Post #33 - May 18th, 2019, 8:23 am Post #33 - May 18th, 2019, 8:23 am
    What a beautiful and thorough review, thank you.
    The expense I guess is to be expected.
    Chicago is not a moderately-priced town in which to do business.
    Jill
  • Post #34 - May 18th, 2019, 12:09 pm
    Post #34 - May 18th, 2019, 12:09 pm Post #34 - May 18th, 2019, 12:09 pm
    jilter wrote:What a beautiful and thorough review, thank you.
    The expense I guess is to be expected.
    Chicago is not a moderately-priced town in which to do business.
    Jill


    It's not a Chicago thing as much as it is a more labor-intensive preparation than a falafel restaurant. We have accepted it for Thai and Mexican, which are also typically inexpensive at their core.
  • Post #35 - May 18th, 2019, 1:34 pm
    Post #35 - May 18th, 2019, 1:34 pm Post #35 - May 18th, 2019, 1:34 pm
    spinynorman99 wrote:
    jilter wrote:What a beautiful and thorough review, thank you.
    The expense I guess is to be expected.
    Chicago is not a moderately-priced town in which to do business.
    Jill


    It's not a Chicago thing as much as it is a more labor-intensive preparation than a falafel restaurant. We have accepted it for Thai and Mexican, which are also typically inexpensive at their core.

    As one of my dining companions astutely pointed out, and I agree, the most relevant comparison isn't with Middle Eastern places. It's with other eclectic, chef-driven places like The Publican and Giant. This is especially true because Galit is not very specific or strict in setting its geographical parameters. There's no attempt being made here to create an authentic, traditional menu. As such, there are several dishes on this menu that you're just not going to find anywhere else. Taking it a step further, I wouldn't refer to Giant an Italian restaurant or compare it to other Italian restaurants but they do turn out some of the best pasta in the city. Do Galit's hummus and falafel make it a Middle Eastern restaurant? Not necessarily.

    I think this supports your point about the cuisine at Galit being labor-intensive. I'd also add the provenance of ingredients to the list of factors driving their pricing. On top of that, the 2400 block of N. Lincoln Avenue is not inexpensive real estate.

    Separate thought now: Yes, Galit takes its inspiration from dishes that are connected to certain regions/cultures but it doesn't attempt to authentically recreate them. They're not aiming to replace or supplant these dishes, as much as riff off them. They're just a starting point for a menu that (at least, based on our meal) succeeds far more often than it doesn't.

    =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 #36 - May 19th, 2019, 10:42 am
    Post #36 - May 19th, 2019, 10:42 am Post #36 - May 19th, 2019, 10:42 am
    spinynorman99 wrote:
    jilter wrote:What a beautiful and thorough review, thank you.
    The expense I guess is to be expected.
    Chicago is not a moderately-priced town in which to do business.
    Jill


    It's not a Chicago thing as much as it is a more labor-intensive preparation than a falafel restaurant. We have accepted it for Thai and Mexican, which are also typically inexpensive at their core.


    Couldn't agree more. In America, there are numerous cuisines that are presented to the masses as cheap or just a very minor percentage of the actual cuisine. There is this weird expectation that food like Mexican, Chinese, Middle Eastern, etc must be cheap and that anything expensive is not "authentic." In the countries themselves, there are restaurants with price points run the gamut. While there's a lot of street food and cheap sit down restaurants, there's also the more expensive (not wildly expensive, just like $15 - $30 per plate type of thing). We've come to expect it from Indian food in various US cities that it can be more expensive and elegant at times, yet many people haven't gotten to that point with Middle Eastern, Chinese, Mexican, etc.
  • Post #37 - May 20th, 2019, 2:31 pm
    Post #37 - May 20th, 2019, 2:31 pm Post #37 - May 20th, 2019, 2:31 pm
    Thanks for posting this great review Ronnie, now I won't have to!

    Most of your experience was in line with ours, and we ordered several similar dishes - the trumpet mushroom hummus, kubbeh, chicken thigh, falafel, stuffed cabbage.

    The restaurant had been open less than 2 weeks when we dined there and service was excellent at that time as well. I should note we spent less than half of your total pre-tip but didn't order as many dishes, and only one glass of wine. But we certainly didn't leave hungry, it was the perfect amount of food.

    Not sure if it's an appropriate comparison, but I enjoyed Galit's food more than at Aba, or Ema for that matter.

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