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Chaise Lounge - New Chef

Chaise Lounge - New Chef
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  • Post #31 - November 17th, 2009, 10:41 am
    Post #31 - November 17th, 2009, 10:41 am Post #31 - November 17th, 2009, 10:41 am
    Had brunch there on sunday. It's a late brunch, starting at 2. I thought I misread that, but it does in fact go from 2-5. I don't know if this is a great idea in theory, but in reality, it worked for us that day. But I'm not a huge brunch person; about 5'10", 170 lbs. We had a good group so I got to taste a lot of different things, here is a quick summary.

    Bacon and chocolate pancakes: Pretty good, but I don't care for chocolate. My wife can't believe I don't like chocolate chip cookies, but I don't, so stop nagging me, lady. I'm sure these will be someone's favorite dish if they give it a chance. Seems a little weird at first, but these days, it's weird that I even wrote that.

    Eggs en feugo or something: Eggs in tomato/tortilla soup. Eggs had soft yolk, (poached?) with toast for dippin'. This is what I would have ordered if someone didn't beat me to it. It was baked, so it was super hot when it was served, so we all burnt our tongues because we couldn't stop eating it.

    Crabcake Benedict: Only had a small bite of this, but it was great.

    Croque Madame Cuban Sandwich: This is what I ordered. Incroyable! So, it's basically a cuban sandwich, pork, pickles, mild mustard. But on top, a fried egg and a mess of greens with a creamy, cool white sauce. I was stuffed after eating/sharing half of this, but kept picking away until it was almost gone. I was embarrassed to ask for a box to take home the tiny remaining sliver, but I did.

    Fried Chicken and Waffles: Only had a small taste of this, and surprised that it was a half chicken. Sticky sweet as I think the dish is supposed to be, but not my thing. I've had this once before at Kitch'n, and I really really want to like this dish, but it's just not for me. Like anything sweet for breakfast, i just want a bite.

    Anyway, as you know, I love this place so take my recommendation with a grain of salt, but it was a great meal to end the weekend.
  • Post #32 - November 21st, 2009, 11:43 am
    Post #32 - November 21st, 2009, 11:43 am Post #32 - November 21st, 2009, 11:43 am
    My wife and I had another terrific meal last night, highlighted by Chef Cary's deft hand with fish. Though it has a diverse menu and doesn't call itself a seafood restaurant, Chaise Lounge does a better job with fish than any place I can think of at a similar price point in Chicago.

    The pièce de résistance, and the thing that nudged us to the restaurant last night, was a lobster pot pie for 2 that I'd read about on Twitter. It was as good as advertised, with a generous quantity of perfectly cooked lobster pairing beautifully with sweet, nutty sunchokes and edamame. The sauce tasted like classic, flavorful lobster bisque, and the mushrooms in the pie absorbed all of that lobster flavor like a sponge. The combination was so good that I wanted to go right home and marinate some mushrooms in lobster stock myself. Great as the pot pie was, if the Chef figures out how to make it with a double crust that bakes into the pie with all of those ingredients, it'll reach an even higher level. As served, it appeared that the perfect, flaky crust had been baked off separately then placed atop the bowl. I imagine this is a tough balancing act, because last night's preparation allowed every ingredient to be cooked to just the right doneness, and I'm not sure that'd be possible with a double-crust, all-baked-together version.

    Before the pot pie, we shared a flawless cod preparation which was probably the best seafood dish I've had all year (in a year that's included two visits to L20). There was nothing fancy about this, but the kitchen had sourced a fantastically fresh piece of cod, and managed not to screw it up. Believe me when I say that I don't mean that as any kind of backward compliment, and the truth is that the kitchen did plenty more than plate it. A flour dusting, some seasoning, a perfect sear to create a bit of crisp giving way to ethereal flesh, some crispy shoestring leeks, and sweet roasted peppers all complemented this perfect specimen well. And sourcing something this good doesn't happen by accident; it's the result of a smart and talented chef at work.

    For dessert we shared Chaise Lounge's version of a banana split, which replaced the traditional banana with a caramelized plantain, then topped that with dulce de leche ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. Every component was great, except the starchy, vegetal plantain which - despite the caramelizing - didn't belong on a dessert plate. No matter, as we left it alone and ate a very nice hot fudge/ dulce de leche sundae.

    Though I haven't seen the episode, I hear that Chaise Lounge was lauded recently on Check Please, and that the episode may be increasing traffic. I hope so, because the food here deserves all the recognition it can get.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #33 - November 21st, 2009, 4:14 pm
    Post #33 - November 21st, 2009, 4:14 pm Post #33 - November 21st, 2009, 4:14 pm
    based on Kenny's, and moreso Ginger Zee's review on Check Please(sorry kenny.. :wink: ), I think I need to give Chaise Lounge a try asap.
  • Post #34 - November 21st, 2009, 6:08 pm
    Post #34 - November 21st, 2009, 6:08 pm Post #34 - November 21st, 2009, 6:08 pm
    jimswside wrote:based on Kenny's, and moreso Ginger Zee's review on Check Please(sorry kenny.. :wink: ), I think I need to give Chaise Lounge a try asap.

    you should go to give Cary (the chef) some smoker tips (and to eat, of course). He's jerry rigged some home depot thing to make it work in his kitchen for hot-smoking fish, but I suspect he could use some pointers from a seasoned BBQ Apprentice like yourself. :)


    Speaking of smoking. Ginger Zee. Yeah.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #35 - November 21st, 2009, 6:12 pm
    Post #35 - November 21st, 2009, 6:12 pm Post #35 - November 21st, 2009, 6:12 pm
    Kennyz wrote:My wife and I had another terrific meal last night, highlighted by Chef Cary's deft hand with fish. Though it has a diverse menu and doesn't call itself a seafood restaurant, Chaise Lounge does a better job with fish than any place I can think of at a similar price point in Chicago.

    The pièce de résistance, and the thing that nudged us to the restaurant last night, was a lobster pot pie for 2 that I'd read about on Twitter. It was as good as advertised, with a generous quantity of perfectly cooked lobster pairing beautifully with sweet, nutty sunchokes and edamame. The sauce tasted like classic, flavorful lobster bisque, and the mushrooms in the pie absorbed all of that lobster flavor like a sponge. The combination was so good that I wanted to go right home and marinate some mushrooms in lobster stock myself. Great as the pot pie was, if the Chef figures out how to make it with a double crust that bakes into the pie with all of those ingredients, it'll reach an even higher level. As served, it appeared that the perfect, flaky crust had been baked off separately then placed atop the bowl. I imagine this is a tough balancing act, because last night's preparation allowed every ingredient to be cooked to just the right doneness, and I'm not sure that'd be possible with a double-crust, all-baked-together version.

    Before the pot pie, we shared a flawless cod preparation which was probably the best seafood dish I've had all year (in a year that's included two visits to L20). There was nothing fancy about this, but the kitchen had sourced a fantastically fresh piece of cod, and managed not to screw it up. Believe me when I say that I don't mean that as any kind of backward compliment, and the truth is that the kitchen did plenty more than plate it. A flour dusting, some seasoning, a perfect sear to create a bit of crisp giving way to ethereal flesh, some crispy shoestring leeks, and sweet roasted peppers all complemented this perfect specimen well. And sourcing something this good doesn't happen by accident; it's the result of a smart and talented chef at work.

    For dessert we shared Chaise Lounge's version of a banana split, which replaced the traditional banana with a caramelized plantain, then topped that with dulce de leche ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. Every component was great, except the starchy, vegetal plantain which - despite the caramelizing - didn't belong on a dessert plate. No matter, as we left it alone and ate a very nice hot fudge/ dulce de leche sundae.

    Though I haven't seen the episode, I hear that Chaise Lounge was lauded recently on Check Please, and that the episode may be increasing traffic. I hope so, because the food here deserves all the recognition it can get.


    You're killing me, Kenny! Gotta go there.
  • Post #36 - November 21st, 2009, 6:12 pm
    Post #36 - November 21st, 2009, 6:12 pm Post #36 - November 21st, 2009, 6:12 pm
    the food looked as good as the clientele last night on check please.

    Looked like a great summer spot,
  • Post #37 - December 15th, 2009, 10:43 am
    Post #37 - December 15th, 2009, 10:43 am Post #37 - December 15th, 2009, 10:43 am
    I admired the things I heard about Chaise Lounge since they hired Blackbird/Avenues vet Cary Taylor, and about his commitment to using the good stuff from local farmers, and I liked him when I met him, but I have to admit all that didn’t quite nudge Chaise Lounge to the top of my fine-dining must-try list until Kennyz said “Chaise Lounge does a better job with fish than any place I can think of at a similar price point in Chicago.” Intrigued by this— since it was swimming against the current of Chicago’s, and my own, rampant porkophilia at the moment— I picked it for my birthday dinner last Friday.

    I loved the pork dish.

    I don’t mean that to slight the fish dishes at all. We didn’t try as extensively of the fish dishes as I expected, but the things we did have were generally very good. Scallops are the new salmon, in terms of being ubiquitous and a bit boring, but these had more flavor than most, were cooked flawlessly, and the stuff they swam in— mainly a schmear of sweet beet puree— was bright and imaginative; in every way it was a cut above most of the scallop dishes I’ve had lately. A smoked trout brandade was comfy enough to crawl into and pull the crock’s lid behind you; while a special of lobster pot pie showed that Taylor can do comfy and complex and cooked to perfection all at once, big hunks of lobster in a warm and savory gravy of root vegetables like sunchokes. (Though he talked with us beforehand about the one conceptual/logistical problem with a lobster pot pie– how to do an upper crust without cooking the lobster to rubber. The solution— a thick disc of pastry baked separately and plopped on at the end— is inelegant but, it seems, a small price to pay for the lobster being cooked superbly.)

    Oh, but the black-eyed pea cassoulet, with housemade garlic sausage and duck… that’s what I spent the next day dreaming about. You know how on the last season of Top Chef, the Voltaggio brothers would impress you with highly imaginative, conceptual platings, and then Kevin would win because his just tasted so damn good? This was a Kevin dish, reflective of Taylor’s Southern background but with complexity that comes from classic French cookery. (Even though it’s somewhat hidden on the menu, Taylor takes his Southern heritage seriously, and we got into a discussion of the classic Junior League cookbook Charleston Receipts at one point; a relative of his was one of the authors.)

    I didn’t have a lot of expectations for dessert, since he told us beforehand that he is his own pastry chef and he kind of lets his staff play around and come up with ideas for that part of the menu. But if the process he described sounded a bit lackadaisical, you’d never have thought that from the desserts themselves, which (like the scallop, actually) rose above the good enough with intelligent choices of accent flavors on the plate which suggested greater sophistication, like little bits of bourbon gelee around an apple crisp. An almond cake (not one of my favorite flavors) was one of the best parts of the meal, beautifully balanced for a flavor that can be cloying.

    Chaise Lounge, and the fact that it has a first-rate chef, are not unknown; Phil Vettel recently gave it three stars in the Tribune, in fact he reviewed it before he ever got to Mado, which perhaps says something about his being drawn to what he reviews by the scene more than the cuisine. But it may still be a bit underappreciated, not least by the raucous crowds attracted by its lively nightclub atmosphere, and it belongs on the foodie radar like any other place run by a Blackbird alum with a keen sense of how to get deep flavor out of top quality ingredients in a simple, unfussy way. In other words, don’t hate Chaise Lounge because it’s beautiful; inside this raucously lively nightclub, there’s a serious restaurant getting down.
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  • Post #38 - December 15th, 2009, 11:03 pm
    Post #38 - December 15th, 2009, 11:03 pm Post #38 - December 15th, 2009, 11:03 pm
    Beautiful write-up, Mike G.

    Cary Taylor rocks, and I'm glad you thoroughly enjoyed your experience. I need to get in to check out the brunch, especially now that the hours have been pushed up to a more doable 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

    Ever since my last dinner there a few months ago, I have beyond-fond memories of crunchy fish tacos, a mammoth pork chop with black-eyed peas, a frosted, pistachio-dusted carrot cake, and more, more more.

    ~M@
    Twitter: @Mattsland
  • Post #39 - December 15th, 2009, 11:16 pm
    Post #39 - December 15th, 2009, 11:16 pm Post #39 - December 15th, 2009, 11:16 pm
    Oh yeah, I forgot about the fish tacos but we had those too. At first I thought they were a bit misshapen because the chunk of fish was large, but actually it was kind of nice to have a big piece of grilled fish in the middle and there was a lot of flavor to the housemade tortilla shell-- a lot more flavor than the ones at Big Star, certainly.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #40 - December 18th, 2009, 11:50 pm
    Post #40 - December 18th, 2009, 11:50 pm Post #40 - December 18th, 2009, 11:50 pm
    As this place seemed to be getting some respect, my daughter and I decided to dine here this evening. They had a special three course for $30 menu tonight which was quite a dining value. We started with two salads. My daughter had a Caesar which was quite nice and I opted for the Lyonnaise. Both were quite enjoyable but I found the french fries in my Lyonnaise a bit surprising. For seconds I had croquettes of smoked turkey, serrano ham and cheese. Jenny had some pretty good shrimp and grits. For mains we had the short rib and the cod.

    All in all the meal was quite nice and a particular value at $30 per person. My cod plate was a bit busy with crushed garbanzo beans and a pile of peppers but the cod was very nice. Jenny had a short rib which was properly prepared but twice as large as it should have been. All in all everything was quite good and a particularly good bargain at $30. We could have subbed a dessert for a starter. The portions were much larger than we needed. I'll be back.
  • Post #41 - January 25th, 2010, 2:07 pm
    Post #41 - January 25th, 2010, 2:07 pm Post #41 - January 25th, 2010, 2:07 pm
    Some girlfriends and I went out for dinner on Saturday. It was our "Martini Night" and I had suggested the Chaise Lounge based on what I had read here about the food. I figured they would do good martinis as well. Imagine our surprise when we walked up and saw "1/2 price wine" on the chalkboard. That's usually something you see early in the week, not on a Saturday night.* Bonus for us! The service all around was great, from the gracious person who took our coats (who I discovered today was none other than Chef Taylor) to our waiter and bus staff.

    We decided to start with wine and move to martinis after dinner. Probably wise since we were all starved. Our table was familiar with and liked the Jade Mountain Syrah, so we ordered that as we perused the food menu. My friend who tasted it made quite the face and said it didn't taste right. After a second person tasted it, we sent it back. It was like vinegar. I jokingly said that's why it must be 1/2 price tonight. Leery of the Jade Mountain, we chose the Alexander Valley Vineyards Cyrus, which was a terrific wine, and not one we would have normally ordered at $100. But at $50, we were in! We decided to split the crab cakes and the beet salad. The crab cakes were okay, but we all really enjoyed the beet salad. The dressing on the arugula under the beets and goat cheese was excellent.

    For entrees, two of us had the short rib, one had the sturgeon and the other had the scallops. Given that we all pretty much cleaned our plates, I'd say we enjoyed our meals. I enjoyed the short rib -- it seemed like a fancy pot roast to me. I did taste a scallop and thought it was well-prepared. (Forgive me for not knowing the dish details.) No dessert for our table -- we followed dinner with martinis (for my friends) and a manhattan (for me.) We didn't mean to be a problem table, but it kind of ended up that way. My friend's dirty martini must have been made with the wrong vodka as it was sweet. And undrinkable. Again, the waiter graciously replaced her drink. The second one was much better.

    The place was hopping the entire time, but we never felt rushed. We were at our table for 3 1/2 hours. It was entertaining to watch the folks coming more for the scene that was in the upstairs lounge. We forgot that many young women don't seem to mind the January chill as evidenced by the very short skirts. (Granted, it was a warmer January evening, but still!) I enjoyed the vibe, even with my more sensible jeans and boots ;-), and definitely enjoyed Chef Taylor's cooking.

    * Back to the 1/2 price wine. It made sense after reading the Openings/Closings Thread and in this excerpt from Time Out Chicago. Chaise Lounge has closed.

    "Confirming the bar’s transformation, this morning came word that Chaise has closed and will be reopening on February 5, 2010, as The Southern, a “low-down Bucktown bar,” according to the press materials, featuring regional specialties like poutine, Johnnycakes and shrimp-and-grits as well as a drink list inspired by the South: Abita beers, a mint julep martini, plenty of bourbon and whiskey."
    -Mary
  • Post #42 - January 25th, 2010, 2:14 pm
    Post #42 - January 25th, 2010, 2:14 pm Post #42 - January 25th, 2010, 2:14 pm
    I think the closing is great news for Chaise Lounge; it seemed obvious to me that the Miami disco crowd who went there did not appreciate Cary's food (everybody was ordering burgers; it's a fine burger, but...) and even if they did order something better, were probably too shitfaced by the time they got it to enjoy it as it deserved. I look forward to a version of the restaurant which really gives a great young chef a canvas to call his own.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #43 - January 25th, 2010, 3:10 pm
    Post #43 - January 25th, 2010, 3:10 pm Post #43 - January 25th, 2010, 3:10 pm
    Mike G wrote:I think the closing is great news for Chaise Lounge; it seemed obvious to me that the Miami disco crowd who went there did not appreciate Cary's food (everybody was ordering burgers; it's a fine burger, but...) and even if they did order something better, were probably too shitfaced by the time they got it to enjoy it as it deserved. I look forward to a version of the restaurant which really gives a great young chef a canvas to call his own.

    For what it's worth, in the 3 1/2 hours we were there, I recall seeing only two or three burgers go by. (My back was to the windows where the parade of short skirts was so it was easier for me to watch the food.)
    -Mary
  • Post #44 - January 25th, 2010, 6:31 pm
    Post #44 - January 25th, 2010, 6:31 pm Post #44 - January 25th, 2010, 6:31 pm
    Crab Cakes, Grilled Shrimp, Bourbon...I am there opening week!
  • Post #45 - January 25th, 2010, 9:01 pm
    Post #45 - January 25th, 2010, 9:01 pm Post #45 - January 25th, 2010, 9:01 pm
    When I first read the post that Chaise Lounge was closing/re-concepting, I began to panic - I couldn't figure it out since the place always seems to be crowded. But then I calmed down, read the TOC piece and examined the new menu and my disappointment turned into pure joy. Now I understand.

    And the new menu looks fantastic . . . and I'm excited that Chef Cary has kept a roast chicken on the menu (my favorite item at Chaise).

    But on my first visit, I envision a menu consisting of: cheese straws, poutine, johnnycakes, green tomatoes, grilled shrimp and Mississippi Mud. I can't wait.
  • Post #46 - January 26th, 2010, 6:41 am
    Post #46 - January 26th, 2010, 6:41 am Post #46 - January 26th, 2010, 6:41 am
    I look forward to the new incarnation, but with a bit of concern about the menu. I'm all for the lower-price approach that The Southern seems to be aiming for, but I hope it doesn't force Cary to abandon the fish preparations at which he truly excelled. I don't see much seafood on the menu, so I'm hoping it shows up in the form of unlisted nightly specials. I also wish he didn't feel the need to hop on the poutine bandwagon, and I hope someone realizes soon that people will be insulted by a $14 burger in the context of this new, cheaper bar menu.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #47 - January 26th, 2010, 10:53 am
    Post #47 - January 26th, 2010, 10:53 am Post #47 - January 26th, 2010, 10:53 am
    Well, I cross Fianco off my list and now I have to scratch out Chaise Lounge!! Oh well, at least I get to add The Southern.
  • Post #48 - February 5th, 2010, 2:10 pm
    Post #48 - February 5th, 2010, 2:10 pm Post #48 - February 5th, 2010, 2:10 pm
    Just adding the link to the new thread for the relaunched restaurant, The Southern

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole

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