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    Post #1 - December 17th, 2006, 11:44 pm
    Post #1 - December 17th, 2006, 11:44 pm Post #1 - December 17th, 2006, 11:44 pm
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    Within seconds of our eating lardo, the alert had gone out and help was on the way.

    * * *

    "This would really suck if it sucked," said G Wiv as he passed his risotto with wood-fired chicken over to me, and I picked off a hunk of pork shank to share with Ms. Wiv.

    What he meant by that Zen koan was: if Timo had turned out to suck, or even to be just okay, we would have a difficult diplomatic mission to undertake. John Bubala, chef-owner of Thyme, now Timo, was one of the earliest chefs to acknowledge that he read LTHForum for whatever combination it offered each day of entertainment, gossip, feedback, competitive intelligence, and the fun of watching people get insanely verbose about what they eat. He had also hosted the first Purple Asparagus event (from which, incidentally, my sons came home with a racing goldfish which has outlived every other fish in our home by a factor of ten), and I had met and talked with him then.

    So Phil Vettel-like anonymity (or imagined anonymity) wasn't possible for our party, even if it was desirable. Frankly, I don't think it is; one because I don't pretend to be a reviewer, I'm a poster on an Internet food board, same as you, and two because I'm not convinced it matters that much, yes, you can up my portion size and give me better service than anyone else, but if I'm not a total moron I'll notice that other people have to wave their hands in the air to get water glasses refilled, and a mediocre chef can't start cooking as well as Grant Achatz just because he knows somebody special's in the house, any more than I could suddenly sing like Streisand. So rather than put on airs about having identities important enough to be kept secret, we made the reservation under G Wiv's name and let the spiffs fall where they may.

    Thus, for instance, we were treated to this, an off-the-menu (so to speak) amuse-bouche made with private-stash lardo brought back on Bubala's recent trip to Turin with Slow Food:

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    Luscious, melt-in-your-mouth cured pig fat, atop an evanescently smoky piece of grilled bread. No, you probably won't see that at your table (although who knows, now that you know about it, maybe you can talk a good enough Slow Food game that it might appear) and thus it was a privilege to have it-- but it's not like we were being plied with things completely unlike the normal fare at the restaurant, caviar at a place known for tuna melts. Bubala has been one of the prominent local-natural-slow-food chefs for some years, if a bit overshadowed by others of late, and something like this-- incredibly simple, elemental even, but full of all the rustic soul-satisfying wonderfulness you hope for in peasant food-- is a perfect exemplar of what his whole restaurant is aiming for.

    What impressed me at Timo-- and frankly left me wondering why this restaurant's reputation isn't higher, at least in its category of casually chic, organically natural, pan-Mediterranean, non-laboratory-deconstructionist food-- was clean-tasting, natural ingredients prepared to bring out the best in what was in them... without taking them into the Bizarro Universe. Exactly one thing we had-- another amuse-bouche, this one available on the menu, of shrimp crusted with bread crumbs in a vanilla bean sauce--

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    tried a bit too hard and got a little too weird, although I should note that that was my opinion and my wife's was more along the lines of "Oh my God, this is one of the best things I've tasted, ever." Far more typical was an item like this, a South American mako, which as I recall from my extensive study of the species is a term for shark, although the skin didn't seem especially shark-like:

    Image

    Lightly salted, wood-grilled with only a little hint of smoke flavor, and topped with little sprigs of something or other, it too was incredibly simple and yet seemingly the best imaginable end to which this piece of fish could have been taken.

    Since Thyme became Timo the menu has been reorganized along Italian primi-secondi lines, though somewhat arbitrarily since risotti and ravioli appear on both halves. We started with three things: the grilled romaine salad which everyone who's written about Timo seems to have tried (another dish where just a hint of woodsy roastedness lifted pretty good to damn good); four cheese ravioli, in a cream sauce with corn and peas which hit the only distinctly American as opposed to pan-Mediterranean note of the evening; and an antipasto plate containing manchego cheese, olives, almonds, and a variety of dry and cured salami and jamon serrano:

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    I assume none of this is made in-house-- although the jamon serrano can be seen aging in-house as you walk past the kitchen to enter the dining room-- but it was beautifully chosen to be complementary, and the cured salami in particular was superb.

    "Appetizers great, entrees ennh" is such a common experience that it really stands out when entrees as a whole equal or surpass what had come before. Our entrees were melt-in-your-mouth braised pork shanks in an orange and cinnamon-tinged broth, accompanied most happily by a few fat fried noodles; a risotto again lifted way above the good enough by the hint of woodsmoke in the chicken in it; sea bass, prepared simply (and, perhaps, a bit boringly) but set on mashed potatoes whipped with mascarpone-- as I think about it, basically the same dish one of our party had had at the lamentable Devon Seafood Grill, but executed far better even when I wouldn't call it one of the best things we had; and tortellini dish with cream sauce, wild mushrooms and asparagus, rendered intoxicating with white truffle oil, not applied sparingly either. (Since I just got a new bottle of the stuff, large enough to use generously while it's still good, I was glad to have a tip on another dish to use it in.)

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    Dessert was better than an afterthought but not really a highlight, I must say. The little plate of multiple creme brulees-- one chocolate, one almond, one with a bit of orange peel-- was the best; I was less excited by a heavyish chocolate gateau, pear crepes or an apple crisp. Each was decently done, each was something you've had many times before.

    Timo's food is approachably upscale, big city hip but comfortable, and so is the room, with its eclectic mix of cultures and its equally eclectic mix of everything from shaven-headed trendies to big-haired older ladies who'd come here seemingly after seeing the line at the Walnut Room. I can't speak to the transformation from the French Thyme to the Italian Timo-- most people seem to think the actual change was smaller than the name suggests-- except to say that I don't think it's all that much of an Italian restaurant per se. What it is is a restaurant in tune with the folkways and heritage of a broad range of European cooking-- Italian first, but Spanish, French and even Moroccan in our meal-- which means, more than anything, being in tune with age-old wisdom about what you do with certain foods to make them the best example of themselves they can be. Throughout most of our meal, that's exactly what we had.

    Timo
    464 N. Halsted St.
    (312) 226-4300
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  • Post #2 - December 18th, 2006, 12:24 am
    Post #2 - December 18th, 2006, 12:24 am Post #2 - December 18th, 2006, 12:24 am
    Thanks for the review. I'm glad to hear positive things, because during the summer, Timo has the best outdoor dining area of any restaurant in the city, and I like to have that to look forward to.
  • Post #3 - December 18th, 2006, 1:59 am
    Post #3 - December 18th, 2006, 1:59 am Post #3 - December 18th, 2006, 1:59 am
    I absolutely hate to be the one to follow a great write-up with service gripes... it just smacks of sour grapes... but I was most certainly waving my hand in the air. I'm so torn on Timo. I have really, really enjoyed the food I've had there, but I'm three-for-three on lousy service visits. We've gone multiple stretches of more than 20 minutes without a server in sight, despite constant attempts to flag down the same... including once when we were seated for nearly half an hour before a server finally stopped by. And even more frustratingly, on two occasions I've been told that items were 86ed at horribly inopportune times. The first time we had ordered a tasting or a prix fixe menu (I don't recall which), and were told that the dessert was unavailable... two hours after we ordered, and right before said dessert was to be served. On the second occasion, upon ordering I was told that the entree I'd selected was gone for the night (despite a 7:00 reservation... not early, but hardly late), only to be told when our first course arrived that they did in fact have it, only to be told ten minutes after we'd finished eating our first course that, whoops, sorry, we really ARE out.

    To be clear, I really don't mean this in a vengeful or spiteful "pfft... yeah, but their service sucks" kind of way, as I frequently observe. I'm usually the forgiving one at any table when it comes to service snafus and I'm cognizant of the fact that even the most attentive joints screw up sometimes. I cling to the hope that I've just had horrible, horrible luck because I love the food and the room, but my wife and I finally decided that three chances were enough, and we gave up. I'd love to talk myself into giving Timo a fourth try, but I just can't do it without knowing that our experience was horribly freakishly atypical.

    Was it?

    (Honest question)
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #4 - December 18th, 2006, 11:05 am
    Post #4 - December 18th, 2006, 11:05 am Post #4 - December 18th, 2006, 11:05 am
    Dmnkly wrote:I'd love to talk myself into giving Timo a fourth try, but I just can't do it without knowing that our experience was horribly freakishly atypical.

    Was it?

    (Honest question)

    Dom,

    Saturday night Timo was a smooth running machine, waiter at the ready, water filled, silver changed out, not just our table, but the entire house, which was full.

    The four of us had a memorable meal, I'm still in lardo afterglow, of which I'm in the process of writing a post about this very moment.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - December 18th, 2006, 8:45 pm
    Post #5 - December 18th, 2006, 8:45 pm Post #5 - December 18th, 2006, 8:45 pm
    funny this thread should appear now as i was about to sing the praises of timo, myself. we'd never been, and with a sitter to watch the wee one, we decided to try it out last friday. i'll admit that for a few reasons, i was expecting a good but notmemorable meal. i vastly underestimated timo. in overall terms (food, service, ambience,...), it ranks in the top tier of my experiences, along with spiaggia, the immigrant room, and the since departed printer's row.

    i started with a risotto w/sausage, asparagus, mozzarella, and scallions. fantastic. creamy, but not too rich; i hate rich dishes, and i took a worthwhile gamble with this risotto. the sausage was the key, but it was not so overpowering as to dominate the dish. the wife started with a beet, cherry, ... salad. i guess beets and cherries go together, but i wouldn'ta thought to do it. it worked really, really well. clean and crisp. my entree was chicken and prosciutto w/orecchiette and a porcini cream sauce. again, deep, but not so rich as to feel like a punch to the head. the wife had the special, seared tuna with, iirc, a red pepper emulsion. i didn't try it, but the wife scarfed it down and sung its praises, along with a riesling that, although german, coulda passed for a really good alsatian. we also had a corn risotto that was wonderful.

    for better or worse, i'm a pretty tough food critic. and now that the wee one prevents us from going out as much as we used to, i'm maybe even more demanding. that said, it takes a lot for me to slam a restaurant or to hold it up on a pedestal. my middle ground is expansive. timo gets pedestal status.
  • Post #6 - December 19th, 2006, 2:44 pm
    Post #6 - December 19th, 2006, 2:44 pm Post #6 - December 19th, 2006, 2:44 pm
    As a neighbor, I get to visit Timo a little more often, perhaps, than those who have to get a sitter or make a major plan out of it. We are able to walk around the corner on a weeknight, and grab a table for a nice, relaxing dinner out. Or just stop at the bar for a very perfectly executed martini. I have to say that I have never had anything less than exemplary service, and almost always a short visit from John Bubala to describe a recent vist to Italy or to tell us of something that he recently found at a local market. He knows we love food and drink, and he is only too happy to share the same love that he shares with us for well thought-out and well prepared food. We are proud and glad to have John and Timo as our neighbors.
    Last edited by YoYoPedro on January 15th, 2007, 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    ...Pedro
  • Post #7 - December 19th, 2006, 4:50 pm
    Post #7 - December 19th, 2006, 4:50 pm Post #7 - December 19th, 2006, 4:50 pm
    Wow, I think it's about time I headed back to Timo, something I didn't anticipate doing after this unimpressive experience a few months ago.
    JiLS
  • Post #8 - December 19th, 2006, 5:31 pm
    Post #8 - December 19th, 2006, 5:31 pm Post #8 - December 19th, 2006, 5:31 pm
    Mike G wrote:"This would really suck if it sucked," said G Wiv as he passed his risotto with wood-fired chicken over to me, and I picked off a hunk of pork shank to share with Ms. Wiv.

    Mike,

    It's true, I said something to the effect it would suck if this sucked, though I remember being more articulate.:) Fact of the matter I both like and respect John Bubala, he's committed to the community in which he lives, contributes generously of his time, energy and resources to Slow Food, Purple Asparagus and others, uses, when possible, local, sustainable, organic, John even, unsolicited, contributed a flock of cooked chickens for a Katrina evacuee dinner Rob and Sheila set up last fall. Though proof is in the pudding, or in Timo's case, polenta.

    That said, our meal at Timo rocked, from the Bulleit with two cubes at the bar all the way though Grand Mariner Creme Brulee with slivers of orange peel.

    We started with lardo, dear sweet luscious lardo, silky, voluptuous, flirtatious on the palate. Lardo puts the amuse in amuse bouche.

    Lardo (~sigh~)
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    Mako, lightly salted, grilled, skin was deliciously crisp
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    Both Ellen and I enjoyed the Parmesan shrimp, the hint of vanilla taking it over the top. Though Mike may have been nonplussed I distinctly remember Susan G saying she felt like giving the chef a hug after her first taste.

    Parmesan shrimp w/vanilla bean nage, red wine syrup and garlic
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    One of the highlights of our meal was the cured meats with Manchego cheese, lightly toasted almonds and olives.
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    We also shared a very nice salad of wood grilled romaine with caper berries, white anchovies and olives. (Not pictured)

    As Mike said, all too often appetizers outshine entrees, one bite of shredded chicken risotto and I knew this was not going to be the case. Frankly, I rarely order risotto in a restaurant as, all too often, it's a gummy sticky mass of overworked rice laboring under an overload of cheese and blah ingredients, not so at Timo. Shredded chicken with a light wood roast flavor, enlivened by porcini sauce and the faintest hint of prosciutto almost as if just a bit of rendered prosciutto fat was used. Clear, clean flavor.

    Risotto w/spit roasted chicken, mushrooms, asparagus and porcini sauce
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    Sea Bass was set atop mascarpone mashed potatoes, between the mascarpone on my rigatoni bolognese at Pellegrino's and these I am becoming a real mascarpone fan.

    Sea bass w/mascarpone mashed potatoes
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    Tortellini was delicious, the hint of truffle oil accenting, as opposed to overpowering as happens all too often in less skilled hands.

    Tortellini w/porcini mushroom, arugula, truffle oil and asparagus
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    Pork shank was tender as a kiss, that is if you like your kisses flavored with bacon and roasted onions, which I do. :)

    Pork shank w/butternut gnocchi, bacon and roasted onions.
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    Desserts were quite good, with the aforementioned Grand Mariner Creme Brulee with slivers of orange peel, one of a trio of creme brulees, being my favorite. Unfortunately I did not get a good picture. We also had roasted pear crepes, apple crisp and a chocolate gateau.

    With our starters we drank a very nice Gavi followed by Dolcetto, which my emerging oenophile of a bride picked out.

    It had been a while since I had been to Timo, actually Thyme at the time, but it most certainly won't be long before I'm there again.

    Wonderful company, great conversation, terrific food prepared by a chef at the top of his game. Mike G's subject line Timo Supremo nicely sums up our evening.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - December 31st, 2006, 5:00 pm
    Post #9 - December 31st, 2006, 5:00 pm Post #9 - December 31st, 2006, 5:00 pm
    Well, based on the lack of response, it would appear that I have, indeed, just had phenomenally bad luck. Which is good. This means I can return :-)
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #10 - January 15th, 2007, 12:20 pm
    Post #10 - January 15th, 2007, 12:20 pm Post #10 - January 15th, 2007, 12:20 pm
    I am only too pleased to mention that Timo now offers a splendid $25 prix fixe dinner on Sunday thru Thursday nights. Any appetizer, any entree and any dessert, just $25. If I was a happy neighbor before, I'm an even happier neighbor now!
    ...Pedro
  • Post #11 - January 15th, 2007, 1:00 pm
    Post #11 - January 15th, 2007, 1:00 pm Post #11 - January 15th, 2007, 1:00 pm
    That was the deal at Thyme Cafe on some night (or maybe all the time, no pun intended). An excellent way to give Timo a try.
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  • Post #12 - February 10th, 2007, 11:41 pm
    Post #12 - February 10th, 2007, 11:41 pm Post #12 - February 10th, 2007, 11:41 pm
    JimInLoganSquare wrote:Wow, I think it's about time I headed back to Timo, something I didn't anticipate doing after this unimpressive experience a few months ago.


    ... and tonight was that night. Mrs. JiLS and I showed up sans reservation at 8:00 (we like living recklessly like that), which nevertheless resulted in a very manageable 20 minute wait at the bar. That wait gave us an opportunity to enjoy a drink or two and familiarize ourselves with and remark on the eclectic to the brink of bizarre decor in Timo (I guess they decided "pan-Mediterranean" would mean food from the north shore, decorations from the south?). And we also compared notes on the restroom decor; I won the bet that the "exotic yet tasteful" rhapsody on the female form in the men's room would NOT be complemented by a similar ode to naked masculinity in the ladies'; indeed, Mrs. JiLS confirmed a more matronly -- but still naked and female -- combo of murals and photos therein.

    So, why make a fuss over the restroom decor? Because, like so much else about the "look and feel" of Timo, it just felt calculated. Really, the African fertility paintings over the urinals may as well have been LCD screens showing ESPN. The whole presentation at Timo all just seemed lke the restaurant in the Chicago pavilion at Epcot. Still, that has little or nothing to do with the food, but it did impact my experience of dinner.

    And that actually was rather nice, with attentive service, an excellent wine (Aramis Governor" Syrah, an Australian wine with much more complexity, minerals and cedar notes than you find in the typical "She-razz"). I started with a winter vegetable soup with poached pears, which was too sweet for my taste but expertly prepared and a success, just didn't ring my bell but could be a real favorite for the right person. Mrs. JiLS had the goat cheese salad, which I did not try, but she found better than good. My main was the cedar planked salmon, which was served with corn (of all things) in a cream sauce. This was a dish I would return for; the salmon was simple and perfect, the corn a surprising but effectively sweet and starchy complement to the richness of the fish. Mrs. JiLS had the "saltimbocca" pasta, which consisted of shredded chicken in a cream sauced pasta (the waiter warned her that the "quote marks" meant "not real saltimbocca," which was fine by her). Also didn't try this dish, but it was very much enjoyed by Mrs. JiLS. We finished with the trio of creme brulees noted above by GWiv and Mike G; they were good examples of the form, although sort of a Ben & Jerry's version, loaded with hunks of candy and nuts. (Who will be the first to market Chubby Hubby creme brulee? And may I be first in line?)

    Anyway, I don't want to undersell the experience, because it certainly was a very good urban dining out kind of meal. The crowd continues to have that sort of odd mix of 60-somethings and 20-somethings (including the table of 10 recent Big 10 grads seated next to us) that raises my urban-dwelling snob hackles (which in turn makes me feel like something of an effete epicurean ass and wonder who raised me). If Timo were in Indianapolis, it would be one of the ten best urban/casual/chic/fine-dining places in town (a point of reference of my own; substitute Des Moines, Wilkes-Barre, Calgary, etc., as appropriate to your own experience). Just my two cents, but I think for the same kind of meal, I might still prefer staying closer to my home and eating at Lula.
    JiLS
  • Post #13 - March 22nd, 2007, 6:58 am
    Post #13 - March 22nd, 2007, 6:58 am Post #13 - March 22nd, 2007, 6:58 am
    LTH,

    John Bubala and his trip to Turin as a Slow Food chef-delegate was the Chicago Tribune Good Eating section center spread Wednesday.

    Congratulations John, well deserved recognition.

    John Bubala is also reopening his spot at 1540 N Milwaukee, what was Thyme Cafe, as Baccala featuring food from Piedmont. It opens March 30.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Last edited by G Wiv on June 4th, 2007, 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #14 - June 4th, 2007, 9:24 am
    Post #14 - June 4th, 2007, 9:24 am Post #14 - June 4th, 2007, 9:24 am
    LTH,

    In the past when asked for very nice, but not quite Avenues, Everest, Moto etc. in price I've recommended Blackbird. Please allow me to amend to Timo and Blackbird. Both have similar sensibilities, real appreciation of the pig and all it's parts, a more than lip-service commitment to local, sustainable and are helmed by two youthful energetic chefs at the top of their game. That in mind when a recent house guest asked where we should go for a special, yet not break the bank, meal Timo got the nod and came through with flying colors.

    Lardo had a delicate flavor, intensely rich offset perfectly by wood grilled bread. At the risk of being redundant,* Lardo puts the amuse in amuse bouche.

    Image

    While guanciale as an ingredient in recipes such as Bucatini alla Matriciana is not new to me I've not experienced guanciale as centerpiece. In Chef Bubala's masterpiece of an appetizer guanciale gets a quick ride on a wood grill, which enhances with bits of grill goodness and bubbles luscious cured jowl juices to the surface. Flanked by grilled dates accented with gorgonzola/mascarpone and nestled atop creamy polenta. This is the dish I'm still thinking about weeks later.

    Guanciale set atop mascarpone polenta w/grilled dates stuffed with gorgonzola and mascarpone
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    Comb honey set atop butter, lightly spread on the accompanying warm 5-grain was a testament to the beauty of simple, yet exquisite, ingredients.

    Comb Honey with Butter
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    Top quality prosciutto w/melon, gorgonzola, drizzled w/balsamic syrup. Clean complimentary flavors combine for a delicious take on a classic appetizer.
    Image

    Spinach and goat cheese ravioli with corn and pea sauce. Toothsome ravioli are made in-house, richness of the sauce is countered nicely by the mild bite of goat cheese.

    Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli
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    Romaine, or most lettuces for that matter, are wonderfully enhanced by grilling, Timo's wood grilled romaine with purple basil dressing and caper berries is state of the art. This is not the romaine of Hammond's Disturbing Trends post.

    Parmesan shrimp w/vanilla bean nage, red wine syrup and garlic, pictured upthread, rounded out the starter portion of the meal.

    I opted for wood grilled steak, good quality meat perfectly cooked, though after the abundance of pork products early on in the meal I found myself wishing I had ordered something a bit lighter.

    Wood Grilled Steak
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    Timo nailed our friend John's Swancreek Farm's pork loin, med-rare, moist, delectable pig flesh served with a mascarpone enhanced potato croquet and sauteed veg.

    Pork loin with potato croquet
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    My wife's scallop entree was spot-on, wood grilled w/corn sauce. Delicious as the scallops were the star of the dish was the incredibly fresh flavored corn. The corn, in both the corn sauce and a side of corn risotto, had a clear distinct integrity, as if the kernels had been sheered from the cob seconds prior to completion of the dish.

    Scallops with corn sauce
    Image

    We led off with a 2005 Furlan Mari Me Castelcosa Casarsa and moved to Villa Calcinaia 2001 Merlot with our entrees.
    Apple Crumble w/apple cinnamon ice cream and a pair of sorbet, lemon and raspberry, completed our memorable meal.

    Timo has one of the nicer outdoor dining areas in Chicago, though it was not yet open mid May when we were there.

    Image

    John Bubala
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    *I'm repeating myself from upthread
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #15 - June 21st, 2007, 9:22 am
    Post #15 - June 21st, 2007, 9:22 am Post #15 - June 21st, 2007, 9:22 am
    My dinner at Timo last night was a mixed bag experience, which mirrors probably every single experience I've had at Timo or at its prior incarnation, Thyme. Sometimes the food is good, but the service is poor, or the service is good but the food is meh.

    I love -- love -- Thyme/Timo's outdoor patio, so I'm an easy sell to eat there during the summer. Last night, the patio was mostly full, the weather perfect, but the food was hit and miss, and the service mostly a miss.

    The server sighed the specials - "well, [sigh], today we have a few [sigh] specials, . . . " I don't expect TGI Friday's type enthusiasm, wouldn't want it anyway, but a little professionalism would be nice.

    I started with the wood-fired romaine salad with purple basil viniagrette, black olives and capers. The flavor profile of this dish was fantastic. Smoky lettuce with the tangy capers and salty olives. I just wish there was more green romaine than the bitter yellow insides. I felt like I was getting the leftovers. If the chef wanted a bitter lettuce in the dish, then something else perhaps would have sufficed better.

    For an entree, I had the grilled artichoke ravioli with chicken meatballs and (I believe) a carrot nage and balsamic syrup. This dish was much less successful. The "nage" and the balsamic syrup teamed up to make a sickly sweet combination. I thought I heard the ravioli scream, "Help! I need something savory!" While the texture of the ravioli was nice (some ravioli dough is too thick), there was no discernible artichoke taste at all. The three one-inch chicken meatballs served with the dish were tasty, but seemed out of place. Even more out of place in the dish was a heap of corn served in the middle. (Sort of like having ravioli with a side of corn.) Overall, the flavor profile was quite off, the corn was weird, and at $21 for four ravioli, we're getting into (or exceeding) Cafe Spiaggia prices . . .

    By contrast, the food at Cafe Spiaggia as executed by Missy Robbins, is so perfectly balanced. It is Italian, plain and simple, unadorned. For example, one of my favorite dishes is their fall squash appetizer, which has wood-roasted pieces of squash, a drizzled balsamic reduction , pungent, good quality parmaggiano-reggiano shaved on top and a garnish of toasted hazelnuts. The dish hits all the flavor highpoints, is perfectly balanced, yet is so simple.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is that, in a lot of ways, Timo isn't up there with other Italians in the city. I think if my dish was $6 cheaper, I'd feel that I got what I paid for. A dish that is caringly prepared, but one where the kitchen's ability to conceive of and execute Italian dishes is still a work in progress.

    A note regarding the service. For the prices they're charging, my service was downright distracting. Every dish was slammed down, every fork moved with a bang, the auction when the dishes came out. Again, contrast that with Cafe Spiaggia, where service is refined, professional and unobtrusive. To be clear, while I would characterize Timo as a mid-priced restaurant, service at other mid-pricers is much, much more polished.

    It's not that Timo is crossed off my list, or that my experience was unenjoyable, but it does not seem like they're reaching a bar that the menu prices have set.

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