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  • The Promontory

    Post #1 - September 1st, 2014, 12:13 am
    Post #1 - September 1st, 2014, 12:13 am Post #1 - September 1st, 2014, 12:13 am
    The Promontory has a distinctive concept and space that is well-matched by an excellently sourced and executed menu and drink program. Taking its cue from "The Point" which is a quirky summer (and ice-storm) wonderland to Hyde Parkers, Promontory is centered around the marriage of rustic stone hearths with a modern urban backdrop. The menu is divided into sections based on how long things take to prepare, from cold to slow-fired with quick-hot in the middle. There are multiple, reasonable price entry points unlike nearby A10, and I think the staff and food are much better here as well. Reclaimed elements from the historic Piccadilly Theater make the dining room and the jaw-dropping upstairs music club really neat.

    I can't remember the last time I had an amuse at a Hyde Park restaurant, this one showing off some nice fish and herbs grown on site. The grilled feta and olives, and the mezze platter with smoky spreads, should not be missed, each with their own fresh-baked breads. Not pictured, house-cut spaghetti and veal meatballs, textbook slow burgoo with quail, spicy game sausage, and cornbread, and three veal preps with sauces were all delightful.

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    Everything was warm and toasty without being heavy or overly salty, a nice balance. Drinks were imaginative, savory, and potent on multiple visits, though there are recurring anecdotal reports that the sweet drinks (and desserts) trend a little too sweet - might be worth asking for adjustments. This is the winner of the recent boon of Hyde Park additions; Yusho may be a more frequent haunt when it opens, but the space doesn't have the potential to touch this one. I should mention that while A10 continues to disappoint with high prices, loud volume, aloof service, and bland draft cocktails, Porkchop is slinging some great chicken and waffles, elotes, and bourbon cocktails; don't believe Yelp (service is admittedly inconsistent).

    The Promontory
    5311 S Lake Park Ave
    Chicago, IL 60615
    promontorychicago.com
  • Post #2 - September 1st, 2014, 12:04 pm
    Post #2 - September 1st, 2014, 12:04 pm Post #2 - September 1st, 2014, 12:04 pm
    Wow, Matt. My experience at The Promontory could not have differed more from what you describe here. 3 of us shared 10 dishes (2 from each section of the menu). For the most part they seemed amateurish, overwrought and ill-prepared. Of those 10, there were maybe 2 I'd even consider ordering again (escabeche, po' boy). Lots of gussied up meats in brown sauces. Many of the dishes on the menu should have been in quotation marks because they strayed so far from their standard incarnations. Panzanella (lettuce salad with soft cornbread croutons), Burgoo (broth containing assorted meats), "Osso Bucco" (loin, not shank and which actually was in quotation marks) were prime examples of this -- and there were others, too. On the drink side, a house Manhattan varied so much from a genuine Manhattan, the misnomer was especially egregrious. Our Hearth Roasted Feta was so overcooked, it had oozed down to nothingness and barely appeared on the plate. The meatballs in our Spaghetti and Meatballs were ice cold.

    Service was friendly but not very knowledgeable, and pacing was brutally slow.

    If I lived or worked nearby, I could possibly see returning and giving it another try but 5300 South is a long way from home. If this were my neighborhood, I would have been so much happier with a Longman South rather than this concept, where the menu seems largely populated by unsuccessfully stylized versions of tried and true classics. If you're going to go off-road so severely, the destination really needs to justify the route. This was some major culinary detour-ism that didn't work for me at all. The only thing I truly enjoyed was the space itself, which reminded of Oaxen Slip in Stockholm, Sweden.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - September 1st, 2014, 7:10 pm
    Post #3 - September 1st, 2014, 7:10 pm Post #3 - September 1st, 2014, 7:10 pm
    Yup, that sounds like a really, really bad night. Can't help on their takes differing from orthodox preparations, though (much as it occasionally annoys me as well). Glad you enjoyed the space at least.
  • Post #4 - November 10th, 2014, 8:07 am
    Post #4 - November 10th, 2014, 8:07 am Post #4 - November 10th, 2014, 8:07 am
    Had a dinner here last night, and enjoyed it very much...

    My wood guy (A1 Country Firewood) supplies this hearth-cooking centered kitchen with their cooking fuel, and he had recommended I give it a try...

    It's a bit of a trek from Rogers Park, but not too bad on a Fall Sunday evening (while the Bears were away), 25 minutes door to door.

    Great space! It's in an area with a lot of redevelopment, so it resembles a well-planned affluent suburban downtown - which is not usually my preferred style - but they did a good job with the inside of Promontory.

    I feel like this is a seemingly "trendy" restaurant that is easy to be critical of: wildly different interpretations of classics, brainstorm session drinks (non-traditional with creative names), $300 Butch-y designer aprons, and the need to cook everything over a (beautiful) wood fire. It doesn't have the character/grit of other projects from this group, and this makes it a target. Build a cool space in an old, abandoned building - you're hip. Build a nice, new, well-planned restaurant with a live music venue in a former Border's Books - you're easy to pick on...

    On the other hand: if you order a few sharing plates, ignore their names, sit at the Chefs Counter to watch the action, and are treated to multiple "tastings" from the chef - you can quite enjoy yourself.

    My experience was the latter. Our meal consisted of an amuse bouche from the kitchen, a plate of truffled white bean hummus w/charred flatbread, Pan-Roasted Bay Scallops, Ash Roasted Beet and Carrot salad (one of the highlights of the night - really great flavor balance in this salad), and then we shared the Burgoo. We also had a few other plates sent out by Chef, all delicious...I was there for my wife's birthday dinner - so I just relaxed and enjoyed what I was doing without any obsessive R&D (hard for me to do this when I go out, so I appreciated whatever relaxing factors allowed this to happen)...

    The truffled white bean hummus had just enough truffle flavor, not overpowering the perfectly smooth and well-made hummus, Grilling/Charring the flatbread was a nice detour from the standard - bread obviously warm, with small circles of bitter char that balanced out the creamy richness of the truffled hummus.

    The Pan-roasted Bay Scallops were a gift from the kitchen, and were cooked perfectly. I love that they use cast iron skillets on the beautiful Santa Maria Grill (side note: this type of cooker is extremely underutilized in the industry outside of California, and I love that it is the center of their kitchen/menu), adding some smokey flavor to non-grilled dishes: (cauliflower-almond puree, white beans, preserved lemon, parsley pesto, brown butter vinaigrette) This dish was excellent .

    The Burgoo, while very untraditional, had some delicious venison sausage, grilled rabbit, pork collar, a mildly spicy/smokey tomato broth (I'm told smoking the Burgoo was a new technique - and I hope they continue as the smokiness really made the dish for me), with some corn/beans/other grilled vegetables...It was non-traditional, but very good. The wedges of cornbread were especially good when dipped in the smokey tomato broth..i made my only studious R&D note of the evening, I am going to build a smoked tomato soup this winter - the smokey tomato/cornbread combination was fantastic.

    We sat directly next to plating/service counter, so we saw a lot of good-looking plates going out - the Pork Po' Boy looked especially good (though what's with all the lobster rolls in Chicago these days?)...and the GRILLED LAMB BURGER (preserved tomato relish, pickled red onion, smoked feta, black olive tapenade, chickpea fries) is on my "next up" list. We asked about the chickpea fries, they looked like delicious thick cut wedge fries, and the kitchen sent out a small order. We were already stuffed, but these went down easily with their house-made chermoula (slightly spicy) ketchup...

    Pics below...I had a good time, and will return:

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    I love comfortable food, and comfortable restaurants.
    http://pitbarbq.com
    http://thebudlong.com
    http://denveraf.com
  • Post #5 - June 22nd, 2016, 10:12 am
    Post #5 - June 22nd, 2016, 10:12 am Post #5 - June 22nd, 2016, 10:12 am
    I had a business associate in town for a show at McCormick Place and so, since I was on the south side anyway, I decided to take her to The Promontory in Hyde Park. As soon as you walk in the door, you can smell the wood burning in the hearth, which is the cooking method used for most of the menu. The menu for the limited cocktail selection is arranged in a sort of grid pattern that lets you pick from three or four preparations of each of three spirits.

    Since I was on the south side, we started off with a southern specialty; warm gougeres stuffed with pimento cheese. Despite the gougeres being somewhat on the heavy side, the warm gooey cheese on the inside more than made up for that slight shortcoming. These were very good, and very gooey! We also got some clam fritters that, though lacking in very much actual clam meat, had a great, briny taste to them. We rounded out our appetizer selections with house made burrata that was excellent. It was topped with green almonds that added some great textural interest and was served with a smattering of BBQ artichoke pieces and morel mushrooms along with a schemer of rhubarb puree and slices of hearth-toasted bread. This was perhaps the best dish of the night.

    For our mains, we had Kalbi style beef shortribs which, despite the promise of the hearth, were flaccid and lacking in any type of char. Along with that, with thoughts of the outstanding burger served sister restaurant at Longman & Eagle, I ordered the burger, which turned out to be more of a poor imitation of the Au Chervel burger. There were two patties covered in cheese served on a brioche bun. Again, despite having a live flame to play with, the burgers had little to no smoke flavor and even less char.

    All in all, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to return, but if you're in the area, it is a nice venue for catching some music and a meal. Just don't go in expecting too much.

    The Promontory
    5311 S Lake Park Ave West
    Chicago, IL 60615
    (312) 801-2100
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - January 5th, 2017, 8:00 am
    Post #6 - January 5th, 2017, 8:00 am Post #6 - January 5th, 2017, 8:00 am
    Andrew Graves, former sous at Alinea, named new chef at The Promontory

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/ct ... story.html
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #7 - April 10th, 2017, 10:25 am
    Post #7 - April 10th, 2017, 10:25 am Post #7 - April 10th, 2017, 10:25 am
    Wanting to take a drive on a beautiful Saturday, Mr. X and I headed south on Lake Shore Drive to Hyde Park and the Promontory. We sat at the chef's counter which has a great view of the wood-fired griddle and grill. Like rub above, we were next to the plating/expediting counter and got to see everything as it went out. I could have used a few more inches as it was a little too cozy for me, but it was fun to see everything. The kale salad and the burger both looked delicious.

    I had the Eggs Sardou (toast, artichoke, spinach, poached eggs, creole hollandaise, grits) and Mr. X had the Country Benedict (biscuit, maple sausage, poached eggs, mushroom gravy, patatas bravas.) We liked my dish better, but the potatoes on his plate were fantastic. Mr. X had their version of a bloody Mary and found it rather bland. I had one of their non-alcoholic cocktails (grapefruit soda based), which was delicious.

    Service was fine once our server found us. We ordered our drinks with one person and had to ask the expediter to find our server after waiting at least 10 minutes with no sign of the drinks. Watching the chefs was a highlight. They were busy! I thought brunch was good and I could see coming back to try dinner.
    -Mary
  • Post #8 - March 20th, 2018, 4:17 pm
    Post #8 - March 20th, 2018, 4:17 pm Post #8 - March 20th, 2018, 4:17 pm
    Tried The Promontory for the first time last night. Though we live near by, the menu had never looked that interesting when I happened to look at it in passing, and when we want a nice dinner, we also usually want to get out of the neighborhood. This time, however, the menu looked appealing and we liked the idea of a quick walk home on a work night.
    Overall, the food was very tasty but the operational misfires were such as did not leaving me looking forward to a return.
    Mrs. B. was coming from home. I was coming from work, but arrived first. Told the 2 hosts that we would be 2, and my wife was arriving shortly. Was seated at a deuce on the back wall. When Mrs. B. didn't appear 15 min. after the appointed time, and knowing she was only a few blocks away, I called. And, indeed, she had arrived within 5 min. of me, told the hosts the same story about meeting someone, and had been seated across the restaurant. OK, fine.

    We assembled at her table and the waitress came right over. She was friendly, knowledgeable, and articulate. Took drink and app orders. Drinks came right away. I like that you can order small/med./or large wine pours by the glass. I had a Barbera, very tasty, but I forget the producer. Mrs. B. liked her cocktail, the Fauxjito.

    Apps took a bit longer than I would have liked. We ordered chicken liver mousse and prawns de Jonghe. The runner appeared with the prawns, and something else. When I told him that the 2nd dish was not ours, he looked thoroughly baffled, slightly panicked, and immediately buggered off, leaving the mystery dish behind. After about a couple of min., my mousse appeared and the mystery dish was again left behind, so I figured no one was coming to reunite it with its table and decided to try it. It didn't seem to correspond to anything on the menu. There was "hearth grilled oysters 3/ea., with garlic, parmesan and butter," but this didn't quite look like that. There was a large shell, but whatever it held was blanketed with breadcrumb topping, like a traditional baked clam. The shell rested on a bed of something white. The room is very dark (I really could not see anything I ate all night long.), but it looked like grits, white polenta, or perhaps a puree of some sort. I took a spoonful. As my eyes spronged from their sockets I realized that I was enjoying a large mouthful of salt. I was incapable of tasting anything for a while, but Mrs. B. and I agreed that whatever this dish was it didn't work. We couldn't taste oyster, or any grilling, and the heavy topping was weirdly cold without being redolent of garlic, or parm. or butter.
    The prawns de Jonghe were delicious. If I could have ordered a bowl of the sauce and a basket of bread, it would have been a triumphant evening. Rich, just the right amount of heat, and they really know how to grill a slab of bread.
    The mousse was a different story. Served in a deep ramekin and topped with its accompanying jam, bacon, and herbs, it made a nice, compact presentation but was difficult to get to underneath the condiments. The mousse may have been good, but it was completely overwhelmed by the sweetness of the jam and bacon on top.
    Mains were the Ital Risotto (coconut milk, root veggies, toasted coconut, pickled apple, charred fresno pepper), and Gumbo (prawns, lump crab, turkey sausage, smoked turkey, rice, cornbread, charred okra).
    At least those were the mains when we finally got them. Initially, the same runner arrived with the risotto, and again, a mystery dish meant for some other table. Again he was gently corrected, and again he fled, bewildered---this time taking the errant dish with him.
    Mrs. B. liked her risotto, though I'm not sure what was "Ital" about it. The gumbo was very tasty and generously portioned. The okra was good, but didn't bring any "char" with it whatsoever, which I missed.
    About 3/4 of the way through the main course, someone dropped off a soup spoon for the gumbo.

    Enfin, most of the food was very good. The waitress was very good. But the cock-ups just kept coming. In addition, I'm old (ish) now, and the room is just too dark and too loud for me to really enjoy spending time in.
    I will say that they seemed to be doing a very brisk business for a Monday night in nasty weather, and everyone around me seemed pretty happy.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #9 - September 29th, 2020, 7:13 am
    Post #9 - September 29th, 2020, 7:13 am Post #9 - September 29th, 2020, 7:13 am
    In mid-October, Jonathan Zaragoza is setting up at the wood-burning hearth at the Promontory for El Oso, a three-month (or so) residency of “traditional Mexican and masa-focused dishes.”

    https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/j ... d=83028764
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard

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