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Baccala [Pictures]

Baccala [Pictures]
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  • Baccala [Pictures]

    Post #1 - April 9th, 2007, 11:12 am
    Post #1 - April 9th, 2007, 11:12 am Post #1 - April 9th, 2007, 11:12 am
    LTH,

    The bride and I had a very nice meal at Baccala with Steve Z and the ChowPoodle Saturday evening. Comfortable space decorated with 100 plus pictures owner John Bubala took during a recent trip to Italy, reasonably priced wine list, knowledgeable service and clear clean flavored food, including a few nose to tail items.

    Image

    (We started with a delicious, though unphotogenic, Porcini Tortellini in chicken broth with scallions and lardo. Earthy mushrooms, rich broth, flecks of lardo offset by sharp shards of scallion peaked both interest and appetites.

    The menu is a mix of appetizer and entree portions, with a few available as either, Silky fleshed Atlantic Cod with risotto, pancetta, peas and lemon thyme nage for example. Appetizer portion pictured

    Atlantic Cod
    Image

    Spanish Mackerel was terrific a toss-up with lamb tongue for best of the evening. Full fish flavor, though not over the top, you knew you were eating fish, very good fish at that. Skin was crisp, fennel and sun dried tomato nice counterpoint.

    Spanish Mackerel, sun dried tomato, fennel and mustard
    Image

    Baccala was mild, creamy, not in the least bit salty. Frankly, I would have preferred a slightly more aggressive flavor.

    Baccala, salt cod, scallops, potato, garlic and chives
    Image

    Daily special of squid, sausage, potato, mascarpone cheese worked like a charm. I particularly enjoyed the fennel flecked sausage.

    Calamari, sausage, potato, mascarpone cheese (daily special)
    Image

    House made ravioli plump with seafood, lightly dressed with creamy artichoke sauce and finished with fresh cut corn, one terrific dish.

    Seafood Ravioli, artichoke sauce, Parmesan and scallions
    Image

    Pork belly gets a lot of LTH love, and rightly so, and this particular belly was piggy jelly belly, gelatinous, mouth coating scrumptious, killer belly. Might have been my pick of the evening, but I’m not a fan of smoked cheese, which was a component of the accompanying risotto.

    Pork Belly w/risotto, smoked cheese, peas and balsamic syrup
    Image

    Tender lamb tongue finished on the grill bits of outside char providing variety to the meat. Grainy mustard went perfect, I could see this chilled, sliced thin and served as part of a charcuterie plate. Slight livery taste, in a good organ meat way.

    Lamb Tongue, red wine sauce, grilled fennel and grain mustard.
    Image
    Image

    Good quality coffee and a couple of share desserts, Panna Cotta with peaches and Pear Crepes w/pistachio ice cream, rounded out our meal.

    Baccala offers Italian wines, we drank Vivalda Barbera from the Piedmont region with dinner, 10 Goose Island beers and a few sparklers all reasonably priced. Small, though comfortable, bar.

    John Bubala
    Image

    I’m very much looking forward to a return visit to Baccala. Compliments to chef/owner John Bubala (Timo) and chef Armando Cabrera.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Baccala
    1540 N. Milwaukee Ave
    Chicago, IL
    773-227-1400
    Wednesday - Saturday 6-11
    Last edited by G Wiv on April 9th, 2007, 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - April 9th, 2007, 11:18 am
    Post #2 - April 9th, 2007, 11:18 am Post #2 - April 9th, 2007, 11:18 am
    Mmm. You certainly do a good job of making a place look appealing, G Wiv. I can almost taste the photos. Thanks for the delicious post. I clearly need to add Baccala restaurant to my list.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #3 - April 10th, 2007, 12:20 pm
    Post #3 - April 10th, 2007, 12:20 pm Post #3 - April 10th, 2007, 12:20 pm
    looks wonderful and authentic. I'll have to try it as it's in my 'hood.

    However, that one picture looks like something other than lamb's tongue :wink:
  • Post #4 - April 19th, 2007, 8:19 am
    Post #4 - April 19th, 2007, 8:19 am Post #4 - April 19th, 2007, 8:19 am
    LTH,

    Was at Baccala last evening with a small group, second time equally as enjoyable as the first. The 13-item menu has rotated a bit, Squid with sweet Italian sausage, marscapone and arugula and Beef short ribs w/roasted cauliflower strewn with razor thin pickled garlic slices were delicious additions.

    Squid w/sweet Italian sausage, marscapone and arugula
    Image

    Of particular note is the barley risotto which accompanies Alaskan Salmon, I plan on trying this at home next time I make risotto.

    Alaskan Salmon w/barley risotto
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    Steve Dolinsky, aka the Hungry Hound, was filming at Baccala last evening and, if the reaction to his piece is anything like Smoque, I suggest going soon to beat the rush.

    John Bubala, Steve Dolinsky
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - May 2nd, 2007, 5:43 pm
    Post #5 - May 2nd, 2007, 5:43 pm Post #5 - May 2nd, 2007, 5:43 pm
    Had a very enjoyable dinner here last Saturday. Everyone was quite happy with their selections. I went with the pork belly, and found it delicious though formidable: about 4 oz. of hugely flavorful, satiny, luxurious meat-free fat.

    After dinner, I spoke with the gregarious and genial John Bubala, who told me (quite reasonably) that the actual meat content of this course varies based on the animal. I could eat only about 70% or my piece and The Wife would have none of it, but I would recommend it (though in the smaller tasting portion).

    Overall, this is quite an excellent and high-value dining destination, in a fun location.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #6 - May 3rd, 2007, 4:27 pm
    Post #6 - May 3rd, 2007, 4:27 pm Post #6 - May 3rd, 2007, 4:27 pm
    My wife and I enjoyed a nice meal at Baccala last Thursday night. We had to the place to ourselves, which seemed strange. It was cold and rainy, and no one was out on the streets, so maybe that was the culprit.

    The food was very good. We had the Baccala, squid, and pork belly, all mentioned above, as well as the porcini tortellini soup. We got everything in the smaller portion size, and were glad we did. Everything was great, but be warned - everything was rich. Real rich. Even the brothy soup. After sharing 4 "small" dishes (the portion sizes were still generous), we rolled out of there.

    All in all, it's a nice place in our 'hood, and we'll be back. Especially for those squid. Mmm squid.

    MJ
  • Post #7 - May 14th, 2007, 9:02 am
    Post #7 - May 14th, 2007, 9:02 am Post #7 - May 14th, 2007, 9:02 am
    LTH,

    Steve Dolinsky, ABC 7 Chicago's Hungry Hound did a very nice video segment on Baccala Friday.

    You may recognize an LTHer or 5 in the background.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #8 - May 14th, 2007, 11:08 am
    Post #8 - May 14th, 2007, 11:08 am Post #8 - May 14th, 2007, 11:08 am
    Went last Wednesday-expected a bit of a mob scene-only 3 other occupied tables. Hopefully it has or will pick up.
    Had baccala, belly, tortellini, and squid. Vegmoto is certainly correct about the richness. I would even say there was a one dimensional aspect going on-the food was screaming for some acidic notes to brighten things up. Everything was good, but I almost felt a thud after swallowing.
    I love animals...they're delicious!
  • Post #9 - May 14th, 2007, 11:51 am
    Post #9 - May 14th, 2007, 11:51 am Post #9 - May 14th, 2007, 11:51 am
    stewed coot wrote:the food was screaming for some acidic notes to brighten things up.


    I believe this is a valid insight. I enjoyed the food we had very much, but an acidic counterpoint would have added a bit to several of the dishes. Then again, if you have a bottle of wine with dinner, you are filling in some of the higher notes.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #10 - June 16th, 2007, 4:12 pm
    Post #10 - June 16th, 2007, 4:12 pm Post #10 - June 16th, 2007, 4:12 pm
    Last week a client graciously took me to lunch at The Gage. It's a nice-looking place, tile on the walls is obviously this year's thing, and the menu of dressy lunch food reasonably priced in the teens will clearly fill a need in the area for business lunches nicer than Cosi but less posh than, I dunno, the University Club or whatever.

    Still, neither my client (who knows food too) nor myself was entirely in love with The Gage. It's a little hotel-restauranty in its way of hitting all the notes yet doing nothing unexpected. It just doesn't have a personality, a clear point of view to set it apart from any other place for business lunch. I ordered the one really unexpected thing on the menu-- a trio of "locally sourced" sausages, which were cooked exactly right, and more funky-gamey than you might have expected, accompanied by a crock of potatoes cooked with way too much cheese. I liked it... but it sticks out from the menu like the one Cajun or stir-fry dish on the menu at an all-American place, and doesn't really tell you something about what the overall food-gestalt is. About who the chef is.

    On the other hand, if you want food with a definite, unmistakable point of view... go to Baccala.

    * * *

    To vamp just a little longer before getting to Baccala, I have Cathy2 to thank for an autographed copy of Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast: Nose To Tail Eating, whose philosophy is summed up in its first paragraph:

    This is a celebration of cuts of meat, innards, and extremities that are more often forgotten or discarded in today's kitchen... there is a set of delights, textural and flavorsome, which lie beyond the fillet.


    Although John Bubala of Timo and Baccala most directly came by his commitment to "nose to tail eating" as part of a Slow Food-related junket in Italy, Baccala seems to me to be the purest example I've seen of a Hendersonian restaurant in Chicago, braising and stewing bits to reacquaint us with all those parts they don't carry at Jewel (though some of them are still available at Moo & Oink). Here the odd men out on the menu aren't sausages but a mesclun salad and a grilled piece of salmon clearly added to cover off guests who can't see their way to eating lardo or pork belly.

    Speaking of lardo, that was a particular interest of mine because I've got some curing as we blog, and I was curious to taste it again, see what it's supposed to taste like in the end. However, the only thing it was offered with was chicken broth, which didn't sound like the thing to have on a warm Friday night. So I mentioned to the waiter my interest in it (but not in chicken soup), and the reason why... and very shortly I was presented with a plate of six small slices, lightly sauteed, to try. (Which, to be honest, is at least two more than anyone should eat at one time. But salty, calamari-chewy-and-soft, they were delicious and I was extremely grateful for the preview of what I hope my own efforts will result in.)

    Unsurprisingly, not long after waxing poetic on pig fat, I was "made" as an LTHer by another staffer-- who turns out to be poster Mitch Cumstein (not his real name, you will be surprised to learn). He said he had just started at Baccala two days before, out of admiration for the menu.

    So anyway, besides the lardo, I had mostly stuff described and shown above:

    • Squid with sausage and a mascarpone-based sauce. You don't think "lush" with squid, but that's what this was.

    • Artichoke ravioli. Not much artichoke flavor, but a really well-balanced cream sauce around them. Everything had a cream sauce.

    • Lamb tongue. More gamey yet less organy than beef tongue, this is incredibly tender braised meat, set off perfectly by a wine reduction with a sweet note-- but then everything was really well thought-out, finished and brought to a point where they just seemed right. I thought I was being adventurous to order lamb tongue, helping them out by ordering something they weren't selling many of, yet it turned out I got the last one (or two) they had.

    • Wild mushroom tortellini. Nice, but the least unusual or striking thing I had.

    • Spiced peaches with panna cotta. Now this is panna cotta, not the too-firm jello'd up stuff we had at Anteprima a few weeks back. Exactly the right not too sweet and sticky dessert.

    I had two glasses of wine off their list, a decent Montepulciano and (on my waiter's recommendation; he brought me a little of this and a Dolcetto to taste first and choose from) a really good Cabernet, you might find it a little watery for winter but for spring/summer it was light enough yet full of that mouthfilling leathery Cabernet thing.

    As noted above, it was a very rich meal-- of course six slices of salted fat will do that to you-- and maybe a little narrow in its choices, but dammit, that's what a point of view is, narrowing the choices down to what you prefer most. And Baccala, for all that it has two chefs (Bubala is the owner and presumably devised a lot of the menu, but Armando Cabrera is credited as the chef in situ), clearly has one point of view about meat and cream and flavor-- which I highly recommend checking out.

    Doublechecking the spelling of Cabrera's name I foundthis Time Out piece which I think does a good job of elaborating on Baccala's philosophy, if you're interested in that.
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  • Post #11 - July 9th, 2007, 8:20 pm
    Post #11 - July 9th, 2007, 8:20 pm Post #11 - July 9th, 2007, 8:20 pm
    Went to Baccala with DH and 2 friends on Saturday night early (6 pm) MITCH? Did you wait on us? We sat in the front window and one of the guys had a broken foot.

    Anyway, food was good. We had baccala, artichoke ravioli, pork belly, a chicken special, salmon and beef short ribs. I think the best thing was the pork belly. Amazing. Everything else was very good. I thought their bellini could have been colder, but other than that no complaints :)
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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