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  • Post #61 - May 27th, 2014, 12:40 pm
    Post #61 - May 27th, 2014, 12:40 pm Post #61 - May 27th, 2014, 12:40 pm
    Maybe - No Big Deal?
    Life is a garden, Dude - DIG IT!
    -- anonymous Colorado snowboarder whizzing past me March 2010
  • Post #62 - May 27th, 2014, 1:07 pm
    Post #62 - May 27th, 2014, 1:07 pm Post #62 - May 27th, 2014, 1:07 pm
    edb60035 wrote:As I wrote several months ago, we had a bad night of service and not-entirely-memorable food for our wedding anniversary last summer. After I wrote the review, I also contacted the restaurant, who offered us a partial credit towards a future dinning opportunity as goodwill for the bad night. When they announced the renovation and changes in the kitchen, I thought it might just be that time and that we should plan to return again. We did, this past Sunday night, and it was a most wonderful experience.

    Everything we ate was very good to excellent. The grilled Spanish octopus starter was deemed "the best octopus I ever had" by Mrs EdB60035. The heirloom carrot salad was several mouthfuls of flavor. The grilled scallops with chorizo was the slowest I ever ate scallops, wanting to savor every bite. The cocktails and wines were very nice. And, most importantly, the service was attentive but not overwhelming.

    The new room is a fair bit louder than the old one (in the room with the bar anyway), with fewer soft surfaces and no tablecloths. But we were mostly able to hear each other (not so much at the bar), so NBD.

    Boka is very good value for money, too. I was a little disappointed that they no longer offer a tasting menu, but OK, there's a lot of flexibility in what they do offer. The room was packed on a Sunday/holiday weekend, so others have figured out that the new guy's got game. In short, go. Now. Worth the return or first visit.


    Glad you had a much better experience on your more recent visit; for me I have been fortunate to have had consistently excellent meals across my visits.

    Regarding the tasting menu situation, I too generally prefer tasting menus and inquired about this at the "new" Boka. I was informed that they can try to accommodate requests for tasting menus and advised that it would be easier to be accomplished on a weeknight and with some advance notice. Two weeks ago I dined there on a Tuesday night and enjoyed a fantastic seven course tasting with pairings (for pairings they even had the option of a standard wine pairing or a more expensive reserve pairing). As with the "old" Boka they were happy to factor in dietary preferences and aversions when crafting the menu. We loved the meal so much we went back the next week and ordered some additional items a la carte. Chef said that he will soon start replacing some dishes with newer items as he rolls out the summer menu.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #63 - May 27th, 2014, 1:59 pm
    Post #63 - May 27th, 2014, 1:59 pm Post #63 - May 27th, 2014, 1:59 pm
    Sorry. "No big deal". I live for acronyms :-)
  • Post #64 - May 27th, 2014, 2:26 pm
    Post #64 - May 27th, 2014, 2:26 pm Post #64 - May 27th, 2014, 2:26 pm
    :) Thanks.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #65 - May 27th, 2014, 8:54 pm
    Post #65 - May 27th, 2014, 8:54 pm Post #65 - May 27th, 2014, 8:54 pm
    riddlemay wrote:
    edb60035 wrote:The new room is a fair bit louder than the old one (in the room with the bar anyway), with fewer soft surfaces and no tablecloths. But we were mostly able to hear each other (not so much at the bar), so NBD.


    Tangential question: What does NBD mean? I know what NB stands for--nota bene, or note well, which kind of works in this context. But I don't know NBD. Thanks.


    No Big Deal.

    BTW, yw.
  • Post #66 - July 12th, 2014, 10:00 am
    Post #66 - July 12th, 2014, 10:00 am Post #66 - July 12th, 2014, 10:00 am
    Had a great meal here last night. Carrot salad, short ribs, octopus, cauliflower entree, ravioli, everything was excellent, as was the service and, best of all, perhaps, the space itself, which is gorgeous. Wonderful cocktail, too, a creative concoction of bourbon, amaro, blueberry, bitters and ... something crunchy. A few of the dishes were exactly as I wanted but not what I expected, in the best way. The short rib, per the above, was closer to an uber-tender traditional cut of meat than the usual stringy pile of protein, garnished with chard and fresh from the forest mushrooms, while the octopus deviated from the standard grilled to something closer to a salad. Everything incorporated ample earthy flavors and the occasional unusual spice or flavor component (such as perfectly piquant pickled grapes). Can't wait to go back.
  • Post #67 - November 2nd, 2014, 6:25 pm
    Post #67 - November 2nd, 2014, 6:25 pm Post #67 - November 2nd, 2014, 6:25 pm
    I had eaten Lee Wolen's food at the Lobby restaurant inside the Peninsula, and though I was generally impressed, that was nothing like what he's doing at Boka. My dinner this past week at Boka was one of the best non-tasting menu meals I've had in ages; well, better than many tasting menu meals also. I'd rank the meal right there with Sepia in terms of the best meals I've had in Chicago at non-tasting menu restaurants. And after Boka and Sepia, there's a massive gap.

    The meal started with an amuse, if I recall correctly, a Jerusalem artichoke bisque, and it was excellent. Bread service was fine, but not as exciting as other aspects of the meal.

    But appetizers were sensational. Grilled Spanish octopus in roasted pork broth was fantastic. The octopus and rich pork broth worked so well together, and the octopus was tender with a perfect char. Even better were the heirloom carrots with pistachios, amaranth and smoked goat cheese. I just don't know how to describe this dish and do it any justice. Suffice to say I've never had carrots come anywhere close to being this delicious.

    As for entrees, I was wowed by the sweet and earthy fall flavors of the slow cooked walleye - pears, sweet potatoes and matsutakes. Brilliant in its simplicity, and very delicious. It reminded me more of a dish I'd expect to be served at a Michelin 3-star kaiseki dinner. Perhaps richer but no less delicious were the scallops with cauliflower, apple and blood sausage in an uni broth.

    A couple of terrific desserts, with my favorite being the coffee ice cream with mascarpone, hazelnuts and honey.

    All said, a fantastic dinner and I love the new decor . . . the one wall looking slightly like something out of Alice and Wonderland. I can't wait to return.
  • Post #68 - November 15th, 2016, 8:09 am
    Post #68 - November 15th, 2016, 8:09 am Post #68 - November 15th, 2016, 8:09 am
    I was looking at Boka's menu, noticed an entree: "Whole Roasted Dry Aged Duck"

    Anyone tried this?

    It is listed as a dinner for two.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #69 - November 15th, 2016, 9:01 am
    Post #69 - November 15th, 2016, 9:01 am Post #69 - November 15th, 2016, 9:01 am
    Sweet Willie wrote:I was looking at Boka's menu, noticed an entree: "Whole Roasted Dry Aged Duck"

    Anyone tried this?

    It is listed as a dinner for two.


    I greatly enjoyed the whole duck a few weeks ago; really well executed and delicious course. It definitely is large enough to be be shared; it comes with three sides (in addition to a couple preparations of the duck) and is well more than double the size of a typical Boka entree. Highly recommend.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #70 - December 11th, 2016, 12:26 pm
    Post #70 - December 11th, 2016, 12:26 pm Post #70 - December 11th, 2016, 12:26 pm
    Gonzo70 wrote:I greatly enjoyed the whole duck a few weeks ago; really well executed and delicious course. It definitely is large enough to be be shared; it comes with three sides (in addition to a couple preparations of the duck) and is well more than double the size of a typical Boka entree.
    Now I'm curious the version you had. The duck was indeed excellent, so much so that Mrs Willie & I went back 5 days later and this time took 3 of our family members. So I've had the duck twice now, there were two preparations of the duck and a single side. Thighs & legs are removed, breast w/skin on is then roasted on the remaining skeleton. Liver and legs are used to make a fois gras sausage.

    When done, the server comes to the table to show off the gorgeous roasted breast, then states that it will be taken back into the kitchen to remove the breast for dinner.
    Boneless breast w/skin on is sliced into 6-7 pieces, served on a plate w/fig jam & duck jus reduction. While this was quite delicious on our first visit, somehow 5 days later, the dish was noticeably better. Not sure how that happens, I'm guessing the duck itstelf was different as prep was same.

    The fois gras sausage is served with some frisee salad and is good. very light sausage, not dense. Again, good but doesn't hold a candle to the breast. Side of roasted squash w/nuts (macadamia I believe) was quite excellent.

    Other items:
    Octopus starter: Roasted Spanish Octopus w/fennel, persimmon, nori. Octopus is poached in olive oil. Fantastic starter.

    Our family also split a 4gram portion of the Alba White Truffles w/tagliolini pasta with parmesan. Um, yes please, should have ordered the 8 gram portion.

    For an entree this time, Mrs Willie ordered the Roasted Lamb Loin & Belly w/grapes, olives, swiss chard. Lamb was perfectly tender but IMO was lacking pronounced lamb flavor.

    My father had both the seafood chowder and the sweetbreads but ate everything so quick that no one else got to try (he was an only kid, still doesn't get the sharing thing).

    Mrs Willie and I had the cheese course to finish off our meal on the first visit, 4 cheeses were served, highlight for us was the Red Rock cheddar, which had a slight blue vein and is colored with twice the amount of annatto as a traditional Wisconsin cheddar.

    This time, our family (the sharing par) spit the Black Sesame & Chocolate (bittersweet), w/grapefruit quenelle, pistachio creme. An "adult dirt cup" is how the server described this to us. Our family found it delicious as it wasn't too sweet, with a nice sesame flavor coming through the rich pistachio creme. Cooling, tart grapefruit quenelle was nice contrast.

    The amuse bouche to start was a slice of smoked eel, w/black pickled garlic on a nori chip. Wow, great way to start.

    Service was impeccable the first visit, second visit was a on a busy Fri night and while the wait staff was excellent, the service was lacking, in particular table full of empty dishes sitting for long time prior to being picked up despite service personnel walking by repeatedly.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #71 - December 11th, 2016, 4:45 pm
    Post #71 - December 11th, 2016, 4:45 pm Post #71 - December 11th, 2016, 4:45 pm
    We did the duck back in early to mid October. Back then it was the two breasts as what I considered the main portion; my wife and I each received a dinner plate with a full breast and then three sides were served family style. If I recall correctly one was the salad with the sausage, one was the squash and the third was a side featuring the dark meat - I believe with some type of creamy sauce, but don't remember precisely.

    Heading tomorrow for the truffle dinner collaboration with Quince.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #72 - December 11th, 2016, 7:03 pm
    Post #72 - December 11th, 2016, 7:03 pm Post #72 - December 11th, 2016, 7:03 pm
    Gonzo70 wrote:... and the third was a side featuring the dark meat...
    oh man, I am a thigh guy, oh well.

    Enjoy the truffle dinner!
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #73 - December 12th, 2016, 11:03 am
    Post #73 - December 12th, 2016, 11:03 am Post #73 - December 12th, 2016, 11:03 am
    Gonzo70 wrote:... and the third was a side featuring the dark meat...


    Not understanding the statement since Duck is all dark meat.
  • Post #74 - December 12th, 2016, 3:19 pm
    Post #74 - December 12th, 2016, 3:19 pm Post #74 - December 12th, 2016, 3:19 pm
    Puckjam wrote:Gonzo70 wrote:... and the third was a side featuring the dark meat...


    Not understanding the statement since Duck is all dark meat.


    I mentioned the breasts were served as the entree; pretty sure you can figure it out. :roll:
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #75 - January 9th, 2017, 9:44 pm
    Post #75 - January 9th, 2017, 9:44 pm Post #75 - January 9th, 2017, 9:44 pm
    A fantastic dinner at Boka Saturday night - loved everything I had, including an amuse which if I recall correctly was a nori chip with smoked eel and black garlic. But the highlight of this fantastic meal was the porcini campanelle with chanterelles, frog leg and pecorino. This was about as perfect a dish as there is.
  • Post #76 - December 13th, 2017, 11:04 pm
    Post #76 - December 13th, 2017, 11:04 pm Post #76 - December 13th, 2017, 11:04 pm
    I was considering posting this in "Best Thing Eaten Lately," but chose instead to give Boka a bit of push and join the plaudits above. All the dishes we had last night were characterized by a complexity of strong and various flavors, but I want to commend in particular the beef short rib, which is served medium rare (huh? Short rib?) yet remains tender and succulent, and the scallops--probably the best we've had for some time in the Chicago area--thick and sweet with a carbonized surface that contributed to the flavor rather than overwhelming it, as it so often does. Those were the highlights, but, again, all the dishes were innovate in both appearance and ingredients and intense in flavor. Service was attentive and timely (a Steppenwolf curtain was calling), and although pricey ($100+/head with drinks), this probably turned out to be the most satisfying meal we had in Chicago this year.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #77 - December 2nd, 2021, 7:35 pm
    Post #77 - December 2nd, 2021, 7:35 pm Post #77 - December 2nd, 2021, 7:35 pm
    Unfortunately, since the pandemic hit, there have been fewer recent reports, especially for upscale restaurants. So here's one to bring us up to date.

    Based on our dinner last night, I can testify that Boka is as good as ever. Every dish was awesome, amazingly delicious. And the service was stellar as well.

    We got photos of most, but not all, of the dishes we had.

    Seared Foie Gras - quince, shallot, black sesame
    Image
    Sweet Potato Agnolotti - black trumpet, brown butter, smoked scallop (no photo)

    Whole Roasted Dry Aged Duck - plum, shallot, buckwheat (first photo shows breast, second shows confit served separately)
    Image
    Image
    Slow Cooked Arctic Char - turnip, grape, tarragon
    Image
    Roasted Blueberry - olive oil, vanilla bean, oat
    Image
    Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake - vanilla bean ice cream (substituted for coffee ice cream), cocoa nib, buckwheat (no photo)

    Hazelnut - whipped praline, whole milk, tonka bean (no photo)
  • Post #78 - December 11th, 2021, 3:48 pm
    Post #78 - December 11th, 2021, 3:48 pm Post #78 - December 11th, 2021, 3:48 pm
    Looks great. Excellent pictures. Thank you.
  • Post #79 - May 1st, 2022, 8:40 am
    Post #79 - May 1st, 2022, 8:40 am Post #79 - May 1st, 2022, 8:40 am
    Mrs Willie & I dined at Boka this past Friday evening. Ate at the bar at 5:15pm as supposedly at the time I made reservations those were the only seats open (which was odd as there were still plenty of tables open when we left at 7:15pm). It worked out well as no one else was seated at the bar until about 45 minutes before we left (& of course the restaurant seated this other couple right next to us :roll: ).

    We started with the Grilled Spanish Octopus w/smoked cauliflower, hazelnut, cucumber. Just terrific

    Seared Foie Gras w/quince, shallots, black sesame. This was served in a bowl and right before serving a luxurious thick chicken stock was poured over. The stock was out of sight however I'm not certain of the goal of adding the stock as it reduced the crispiness of the sear on the foie gras. That said I would very much likely order this again.

    Mrs Willie & I tend to gravitate towards any duck prep so we ordered the whole Roasted Dry Aged Duck w/leek, strawberry, salted peppercorn. The legs were confit and served in a bowl with a strawberry reduction (& sorry my memory is missing the other items). We loved everything about this.

    FWIW, around this past winter holiday season, Boka was selling $100 gift cards with a $25 kicker bonus.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.

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