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Vie - Blackbird lite? Even Better! [edited]

Vie - Blackbird lite? Even Better! [edited]
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  • Post #121 - September 29th, 2009, 8:33 am
    Post #121 - September 29th, 2009, 8:33 am Post #121 - September 29th, 2009, 8:33 am
    Image

    I liked the idea of Vie more than I liked the reality when I ate there in early 2008. I went in the dead of winter, hoping to taste deeply of the bounty of their closet full of preserved things (above, as seen in Sky Full of Bacon #5; it's actually been moved upstairs now, though). I liked the idea of a place so devoted to local eating that it was doing all this canning and building a cuisine around those tastes. That said, I found it nice, well-prepared and skillful, but kind of tamed down for the good burghers of suburban Western Springs, certainly not as adventurous in terms of nose-to-tail eating as John Bubala's short-lived Baccala or the wonderful spot that would open a few months later, Mado.

    But I kept having tastes from Vie, and they kept suggesting a much better place than I felt I had been to. Mike Sula and I had the secret hamburger (made from the sides of artisanal Dietzler beef they were getting in house) and the superbly well-balanced Vie salad, and even though I found the toppings on the burger eccentric, there was no denying that it had a purity of beef flavor that left other hamburgers in the dust. The cotechino (a kind of peasanty fresh sausage with bits of organ meat and skin it) Vie provided to the mulefoot dinner was unquestionably one of my top two dishes from that dinner. And Vie's take on Southern food for the Green City Market BBQ was maybe my favorite thing there, too, smoked turkey with pickled greens on it that reminded you of a big bowl of collard greens, but dialed up to 11. So we invited a couple of other couples and went out there again Saturday night.

    I don't know if it's my perception or the restaurant that has changed more, but there's nothing timid or suburbanite-safe about Vie as it exists in September 2009. In fact it might be the most radically whole animal-oriented restaurant in the Chicago area, even moreso than Mado, the Bristol, the Publican, anybody. The menu has item after item which takes a turn into organ meats, offal, once-ignored cuts like pork belly— and an older suburban crowd had packed the place and was eating the weird stuff happily (believe me, you know when the table behind you gets a plate of pork belly and smoked pork loin).

    It's easy to see why they trust his kitchen with such stuff— because Virant and his crew are preternaturally good at mining deep flavors from a dish. They can get away with offal because they use it to add complexity and depth to dishes— you don't taste aggressive liver, you taste an orchestra which includes some earthy bass notes. A lamb "bolognese" had all the brightness of lamb, the funkiness of offal, the comfiness of a warm, nurturing pasta dish with housemade pasta— it was as deeply satisfying as anything I've had in years. Yet they do delicate just as well— sturgeon was topped with a fruity root-vegetable slaw that sang of the simple virtues of well-chosen in-season produce. And taste after taste seemed sharpened to its best possible result— earthy cotechino with crisped edges, a supple, eye-opening slice of cured goat loin (!) on "Nathan's charcuterie plate" (sous chef/charcuterie whiz Nathan Sears), the flavor of smoke trailing off a wood-smoked pork loin, a melt in your mouth blue cheese served with local honey, a smooth and concentrated strawberry sorbet (I saw their new ice cream machine, which Nathan said costs as much as a car— "But a car can't make ice cream.")

    I don't know enough about the tippy-top of the dining scene to say what the best restaurant in Chicago is; even when I've been to such places, I haven't been enough and recently enough to make a remotely fair judgement. But I do know that as much as I admire what's happening at the very high end, my soul likes a little funk in the mix, and I find the precious arrangement of things into little cubes to get sterile sometimes, however exquisite it may be. For me, then, in my experience there's no Chicago restaurant at work right now better than the meal I had last Saturday night, for its dedication to getting the best, richest, most purely satisfying flavor out of the best ingredients. And if you can think of other things a restaurant should be doing first, well, we just have different priorities, I guess.

    Dept. of Disclosure: We paid for our meal but the kitchen knew we were there and sent out a couple of extra things, which we enjoyed happily.
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  • Post #122 - October 19th, 2009, 8:41 am
    Post #122 - October 19th, 2009, 8:41 am Post #122 - October 19th, 2009, 8:41 am
    With the exception of a reliably brilliant recent post by Sir ronnie in a thread I do not wish to alter the direction of, there ain't much on Vie here. Since this dedicated thread already exists (and since LDC's birthday is coming up faster than green grass through a goose), I'm wondering: anyone been lately?
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #123 - October 19th, 2009, 8:46 am
    Post #123 - October 19th, 2009, 8:46 am Post #123 - October 19th, 2009, 8:46 am
    This is the real Vie thread
    ...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 #124 - October 19th, 2009, 8:50 am
    Post #124 - October 19th, 2009, 8:50 am Post #124 - October 19th, 2009, 8:50 am
    there ain't much on Vie here
    :?: :?: :?:

    Okay, maybe as not as much as Kuma's, or eating only sausage pizza for a month, but... :cry:
    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 #125 - October 19th, 2009, 8:56 am
    Post #125 - October 19th, 2009, 8:56 am Post #125 - October 19th, 2009, 8:56 am
    With apologies to Mike G and thanks to Kennyz, it quickly becomes apparent that I erred, goofed, and otherwise failed to dig deeply enough. Oops. :oops:

    I will now get me hence.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #126 - October 20th, 2009, 7:26 pm
    Post #126 - October 20th, 2009, 7:26 pm Post #126 - October 20th, 2009, 7:26 pm
    The chef is also going to be on Iron Chef November 1st. He's serving the Iron Chef meal until Wednesday after at the restaurant. I think that's a pretty good recco. (check vierestaurant.com)

    I live in Western Springs, by the way. I was amazed to find the restaurant when we moved here. It really is terrific. There are many like it in the city but it's a real standout here.
  • Post #127 - October 20th, 2009, 8:01 pm
    Post #127 - October 20th, 2009, 8:01 pm Post #127 - October 20th, 2009, 8:01 pm
    chuckr wrote:There are many like it in the city but it's a real standout here.


    Nice of you to say, but there are few like it in the country.
  • Post #128 - January 24th, 2010, 11:00 am
    Post #128 - January 24th, 2010, 11:00 am Post #128 - January 24th, 2010, 11:00 am
    After getting some good news and having a reason to celebrate, we headed out to Vie last Thursday. I'm happy to say that they were very busy by about 8:00 PM. I can never be as descriptive as others with regards to the details of our meals but suffice it to say that Paul Virant and his team continue to amaze me with their talent and respect for ingredients. In the dead of winter, I felt like I was eating the best of the produce and locally grown ingredients they could find. Usually, when I go out to eat, I feel like I've just really "blown the diet" but I never feel like I've done that at Vie because he's never heavy handed with sauces and ingredients that just cover up what isn't really a good product. For me, that's really important. Of course, I do "blow the diet" on those Manhattans that I've grown to love! So glad to have this restaurant reasonably close to my stomping grounds.
  • Post #129 - January 24th, 2010, 2:20 pm
    Post #129 - January 24th, 2010, 2:20 pm Post #129 - January 24th, 2010, 2:20 pm
    Vie has scheduled a special Sunday night family dinner for $25.00 per person. anyone been? Typical menu? next scheduled for Feb 7 Superbowl Sunday, available in March also. Kids eat for the price of their age.

    Thanks Babaluch
  • Post #130 - January 29th, 2010, 10:29 am
    Post #130 - January 29th, 2010, 10:29 am Post #130 - January 29th, 2010, 10:29 am
    Vie has a new bar menu. I didn't see it on their web site yet but I did get an email. Looks interesting and they're done some redecorating that gives the space a nice, warm feeling.
  • Post #131 - February 1st, 2010, 8:11 pm
    Post #131 - February 1st, 2010, 8:11 pm Post #131 - February 1st, 2010, 8:11 pm
    Jean Blanchard wrote:Vie has a new bar menu. I didn't see it on their web site yet but I did get an email. Looks interesting and they're done some redecorating that gives the space a nice, warm feeling.

    I was there the other night for a special event, so I didn't get to try any of the new bar menu items but they looked great . . .

    The Adam - local red onion gratin, edelweiss creamery emmenthaler

    The Nathan - "cold" country fried chicken salad, pea shoots, piquillo peppers, caperberry vinaigrette

    The Who? - honey and sherry vinegar glazed pork spareribs

    In other big Vie news, they've been named one of Gayot's 40 Top U.S. Restaurants, which puts them in some pretty good company. Congrats, to everyone at Vie on their well-earned accomplishment.

    Ok, onto the 'business' of the evening, the occasion back on January 28th was a special dinner featuring ingredients from Dietzler Farms in Elkhorn, WI.

    The meal began with a reception during which 2 delicious passed appetizers (not pictured) were served:

    House-made Pastrami with pickled Nichols Farm beans & horseradish
    Flat Iron Tartare with cracker and Yuppie Hill Farm egg

    The passed appetizers were accompanied by a non-vintage Veuve Du Vernay, Brut, Champagne.

    Once we were seated, the following procession of glorious courses was served . . .

    Image
    Country Game Pate with 3 Sisters Garden pea shoots, winter radishes, pickled beets, plum preserves and toast
    NV Veuve Du Vernay, Brut, Champagne, continued
    Great stuff here. Pleasantly gamey with a complex and satisfying definition. I'm almost 100% sure that both the quail and partridge in this exquisite pate were from Dietzler Farms.


    Image
    Bresaola with pickled artichokes, preserved Genesis Growers peppers, Washingon Island wheatberries and Prairie Fruits Farm Kaskaskia
    '07 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy, Rose, Verdigny-en-Sancerre, Loire Valley
    I loved the earthy and supple bresaola, which contrasted beautifully with the toothsome wheatberries. The pickles and aromatic cheese brought the entire dish together well.


    Image
    Braised and seared Quail with lentils, mizuna, concord grape mostarda and quail jus
    '07 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Pinot Noir, Cote D'Or, France
    Super juicy and tender quail with complexly-flavored lentils. The mostarda was masterful. I could taste the distinctive concord and mustard notes separately, yet they also came together wonderfully.


    Image
    Yukon gold potato Gnocchi and red wine-braised Oxtail with roasted carrots and Parmigiano Reggiano
    '05 Chateau Fleur Haut Gaussens, Bordeaux Superior, France
    These gnocchi were notably light and the oxtail was intensely beefy. The sweet, aromatic carrots were a perfect inclusion. This was a hearty dish that was just perfect on this cold winter night.


    Image
    28-day aged Roasted Beef Top Round with crispy bone marrow dumpling, Werp Farms tuscan kale and bearnaise sauce
    '08 Substance, 'Me' Merlot, Walla Walla, Washington
    This beef had been smoked perfectly on Vie's WSM smoker. I thought it was pretty damned ballsy to serve this cut at a restaurant dinner but the flavor was spectacular. As good as the beef was, the sauce, the kale and the dumpling vied for best item on the plate.


    Image
    Dietzler Farms Beef and Seedling Farm fruit Mincemeat Tart with organic creme fraiche apple slaw
    Spiced Seedling Farm Cider, Hirsch Selection Small Batch Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
    Count me as a fan of mincemeat, especially Vie's takes on it, which I've enjoyed a couple of times lately. The short, flavorful crust on this tart was a fantastic accompaniment for the complex mincemeat. The spiked cider was dangerously delicious. It was one of the best bourbon concoctions I'd ever had and I wished I'd brought one of those jugs with the 'XXX' on it to take some home. :lol:


    Image
    Chef Paul Virant, Michelle Dietzler and Chef Nathan Sears (left to right)

    I really have to hand it to Vie. I've been to several of their theme dinners and they're always delicious and satisfying. I also love how diligent they are about connecting local farmers with diners. They get the message out in a way that is effective, with no hint of finger-wagging or snobbishness. They've obviously done a great job of creating an audience for this asethetic, too. This was yet another weeknight dinner with around 60 people in attendance. And the cost -- $60 for dinner, $25 for the pairings -- was very friendly. I'm guessing that while most folks appreciate the important message, they show up because the food is so consistently excellent. On this night, Vie not only showcased Dietzler Farms, but also featured a handful of other great local farms, too. When you eat like this, you begin to get spoiled by it. The local movement should has benefitted greatly via Vie's committment to their cause. I think this restaurant has done more to effectively advance the message than just about any other I can think of. When you eat this food, you can't help but ask yourself "wow, where did this come from?" At Vie, they can always answer that question for you.

    =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 #132 - February 2nd, 2010, 7:14 am
    Post #132 - February 2nd, 2010, 7:14 am Post #132 - February 2nd, 2010, 7:14 am
    Well stated, Ron. Wish I had been in town for this latest event. It sounded wonderful and from your pictures, I really did miss a great meal. I've said before that the restaurants in Paris have nothing on Vie. Every experience there is memorable.
  • Post #133 - February 2nd, 2010, 8:56 am
    Post #133 - February 2nd, 2010, 8:56 am Post #133 - February 2nd, 2010, 8:56 am
    ronnie-

    You're using a new camera, right? I didn't think your photos could get better, but I was tempted to get a knife and fork and dig into those dishes you photographed!

    I'll have to convince Mr. X we should return to Vie soon.

    -Mary
    -Mary
  • Post #134 - February 2nd, 2010, 12:30 pm
    Post #134 - February 2nd, 2010, 12:30 pm Post #134 - February 2nd, 2010, 12:30 pm
    The GP wrote:ronnie-

    You're using a new camera, right? I didn't think your photos could get better, but I was tempted to get a knife and fork and dig into those dishes you photographed!

    I'll have to convince Mr. X we should return to Vie soon.

    -Mary

    Thanks, Mary, for the kind comments about the shots. Aside from being delicious, Vie's food is beautiful and it essentially shoots itself. As for the camera, this isn't the new one (Canon s90), it's the old Canon 20D but with a new 15-85mm lens. It's a full stop faster than my old 17-85 lens and offers some other improvements, as well. I think the main advantages show up in situations with limited or low-light, like this one.

    Even though I was just there, I feel like I need to go back to Vie. I've been trying to get there about once a month, even though it's a good 30 miles from my house. This was such a great meal and I just love the vibe. The staff is friendly, the wine list, spirits and cocktails are excellent, the food is the focus and there's zero pretense.

    =R=

    5,000
    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 #135 - February 2nd, 2010, 1:36 pm
    Post #135 - February 2nd, 2010, 1:36 pm Post #135 - February 2nd, 2010, 1:36 pm
    Headed to Vie on Sat night for my first time and couldn't be more excited.
  • Post #136 - February 19th, 2010, 11:54 pm
    Post #136 - February 19th, 2010, 11:54 pm Post #136 - February 19th, 2010, 11:54 pm
    Going to Vie tomorrow night for my birthday dinner. So excited :D

    It's my first time. The menu looks so good, I have no idea what I'm going to eat.
  • Post #137 - February 20th, 2010, 4:49 pm
    Post #137 - February 20th, 2010, 4:49 pm Post #137 - February 20th, 2010, 4:49 pm
    Hey Ronnie - I originally had reservations for the Dietzler dinner and it would have been fun to run into you there, but the cousins from up north had wanted to try Vie for a while and they chose the following Saturday, so the Bride and I made the executive decision that dinner at Vie two out of three nights was too much of a good thing. Of course your pics make me question that decision.

    Dinner was excellent that Saturday. Not a lot new to add, just the same high standard. Paul does seem to be playing with some intensely earthy flavors lately, which I guess is a bit of an evolution. His food has always had this Burgundian aspect to it, IMO, but he seems to be pushing that even further.

    Someone at Vie seems to be really on the ball in terms of trying the varios menus and all the different special dinners. It does not seem they are going to rest on their laurels or get into any kind of rut any time soon. I also like picking up my farm share at Vie every Friday through the summer and fall, visiting while things are starting up for the day, and running into Paul with one treat or another every few weeks and getting highlights of what he is going to do with that treat.

    It is wonderfully bizarre that one of the best restaurants in the country doubles as a relaxed neighborhood hangout in Western Springs.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #138 - February 28th, 2010, 3:35 pm
    Post #138 - February 28th, 2010, 3:35 pm Post #138 - February 28th, 2010, 3:35 pm
    Went to Vie when I was in town on 2/18/10 - thoughts are below with pictures in my blog at http://uhockey.blogspot.com/

    For the last meal of my vacation I volunteered to take my aunt someplace nice – we’d originally planned on Graham Elliot but their seasonal menu change left little to my Aunt’s liking and as such a change was needed. Having been to many of Chicago’s top tables over the past year and hearing glowing reviews of a place called Vie “out in the ‘burbs” I looked into the restaurant only to realize it had very recently been named to Gayot’s Top 40 restaurants in America – a quick look at the weekly rotating menu showed some great items and beautiful desserts, plus if things changed up leaving my Aunt’s limited palate unhappy there was always their much celebrated burger. Reservations made for 7:30pm we figured it would be safe to leave around 6:00 or 6:15 given the rush hour traffic – thankfully we decided on 6:00 and arrived only moments before our scheduled seating.

    Driving up to the small building I have to admit I was surprised when we entered to find the restaurant less than 1/4 full – I was also surprised by the extensively modern décor – dark woods and steel aplenty, stark and minimalistic to say the least. Given chef Virant’s pedigree (Blackbird, for one) I guess the design made sense, but given his locavore focus on farm-to-table foods and home-style techniques like pickling and canning I guess I expected something more rustic. Greeted at the door by a young lady we were promptly led back to our table, a small booth/chair two-top in the main dining room, and waited a short while before being greeted by our server – Maureen. Offering cocktails or wine (we declined) and presenting us with the 8x11inch loose leaf-on-clipboard menu we ordered drinks - iced tea for aunt and coffee for myself and perused the menu.

    Returning quite rapidly with water we were asked if we were ready to order – literally only three minutes after we received the menu. Thinking this odd I said we were still looking and subsequently watched her (and later Chef Virant) attend to another table that was enjoying a tasting menu…a tasting menu we were never offered and saw no indication of either in-house or on the website. Returning again we attempted to place our orders only to be told the Burger was not available because “the chef doesn’t want to be known as a burger joint so we only make a few every night and they’re already sold out.” Apparently there were lots of things to know about Vie that are not announced, detailed on the menu, or on the website. My aunt somewhat off-put by this fact went back to consulting the menu and to be fair I’d have considered leaving had it not taken so long to get there (not to mention the tolls.) With decisions finally made we placed our orders, though certainly not the things we’d planned on when we consulted the online menu earlier that morning.

    After a short period of time our drinks arrived (note, given the ordering difficulties it was already 25 minutes into the meal) and shortly thereafter the nightly amuse arrived featuring cured Trout, Creme Fraiche, and Pickled Cabbage. A tasty albeit safe bite I enjoyed the interplay of the smooth trout and sour crème fraiche with the added vegetal component of the cabbage – it tasted not entirely dissimilar from good coleslaw. In addressing the drinks – the coffee was bold and the nutty accents complimentary to the food while aunt stated her tea was very good.

    With our server off helping with the tasting our bread arrived next via a young man who never spoke a word during our stay at Vie. A well prepared whole wheat with sweetness that I believe was derived from honey, a good crumb, and excellent crust I have to say the bread was excellent and the house butter was served in very small pats with a grassy taste and smooth texture that worked well with the bread. While I will note that another serving of bread required prompting (as did my first refill of water) the ancillary servers did an excellent job thereafter in keeping up with our table.

    Beginning our appetizers, first for my aunt was perhaps the most “signature” item at Vie outside of the Burger. Titled crispy parisienne gnocchi, black trumpet mushrooms, black truffle butter, pickled and roasted carrots, prairie fruits farm fresh chevre the dish smelled wonderful with the heavy essence of truffle rising from the plate and mingling well with the buttery tones. Thick and plump my aunt had never had pate a choux gnocchi before and was appropriately surprised by the difference from potato gnocchi. Tasting a sampling of the dish I have to say the balance of the dish – sweet carrots versus creamy goat cheese, crispy gnocchi against smooth and earthy mushrooms – worked well but the overall texture of the dumplings was just a tad too gummy for my liking. The truffle butter, however, was marvelous.

    Feeling gluttonous I opted for two appetizers – both items I feel compelled to order each time they are offered. While I was a tad put off by them being delivered simultaneously for the simple fact that one would get cool as I consumed the other, I guess I didn’t specify I wanted them coursed out…then again, it is not as though Vie was hurting for tables or in a time crunch, either. Tasting first the coddled yuppie hill farm fresh egg, périgord black truffles, organic crème fraiche, wood-grilled bread dish I have to say I was disappointed. Having had all three of the components multiple times in the past I could taste each ingredient in abundance but the overall effect was somewhat dull – for the first time in a fine dining establishment I actually considered asking for some salt.

    Faring much better than the egg was the seared au bon canard foie gras, pistachio blini, cherry and balsamic gastrique, wood-grilled Wisconsin shallots, roasted pistachios – as a matter of fact, it was exemplary. Flawlessly cleaned foie gras – sweet and unctuous to bite – was balanced brilliantly by the nutty blini and tender whole roasted pistachios. Further enhancing the dish and highlighting the smoothness of the foie and blini were crisp and smoky shallots while the whole dish was brought to the front of the tongue by the sweet and acidic cherry vinegar.

    Plates collected the Chef made his way from the kitchen again and carried on a lengthy conversation about sourcing local chickens and livestock with the table receiving the tasting – he then stopped by our table and stated “I hope you are enjoying everything – thanks for coming out” before heading back to the kitchen. Shortly thereafter our main courses arrived and much like the foie gras they were both beautiful examples of what a talented chef can do with high quality ingredients.

    Beginning first with my aunt’s dish I was excited because I knew there was no way she’d eat a part of it – and it was something I’d earmarked on the menu that morning as a must taste. Not normally one to order “pork” my aunt opted for this dish first because of the lack of the burger and secondly because she loves ham. Arriving as a rustic presentation, Crawford Farm pork combination of porchetta, hearth sausage and tasso ham, braised cranberry beans, golden turnips and pickled ramps, pork jus was a lovely dish full of flavor, spice, and three entirely different tastes of pork. Favoring the lean ham and spicy sausage my aunt passed off the fatty porchetta to myself and – well, let’s just say there aren’t too many things quite as bad for your heart and great for your palate as porchetta following foie gras. Balancing the savory aspects of the pork were flawless beans, crunchy sweet turnips, and acidic first of season ramps.

    With aunt ordering the pork I’d originally planned on I decided to try something new and went with the chef’s highly touted seared Hawks Hill Ranch elk tenderloin and crispy elk summer sausage, Ted’s organic cornmeal spaetzle, black trumpet mushrooms, roasted Michigan parsnips, and preserved huckleberries. With an appropriate gamey flavor not unlike that of venison the lean elk was prepared medium and had the texture of pork loin without any sinew or fattiness at all. Balancing the lean loin was a fatty and spicy round of crispy fried sausage that (like the porchetta and pork sauage) left me wondering how my egg dish was so bland when the chef was clearly so talented with salt and spices. Resting beneath the loin and adding an earthiness to the dish were several pan-seared mushrooms and a chewy (and unfortunately somewhat bland) spaetzle while the topping of the dish was a sublime reduction of sweet yet acidic berries and smoky slices of parsnip.

    Finishing our mains Maureen returned and after refilling our drinks asked if she could interest us in desserts. Debating making an early exit and heading to Hot Chocolate for dessert we decided to look at the menu and a single option made staying obligatory for my aunt. I too had no trouble finding something that sounded delightful. Beginning first with aunts selection - Baked Butterscotch Pudding, Toasted Walnuts, Whipped Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream I can’t say I was wowed – it was a warm pudding cup – but Aunt was very pleased and that is all that matters.

    For myself the choice was “Chocolate Sour Cream Cheesecake, Cocoa Graham Cracker, Candied Klug Farm Sour Cherries, White Chocolate and Cherry Bark, Caramel Sauce” and it proved to be not only a study in chocolate colors, but also a study in the nuances of good chocolate. Creamy and luxurious but mildly sour the cheesecake itself was served as a mound overtop a dark chocolate graham cracker- the combination focusing heavily on the cocoa notes of the dish. Alongside the cake were sweetened sour cherries that tasted divine on their own but moreso served to awaken the fruity tones of the chocolate. Finally, a drizzle of caramel highlighted the cheesecake’s more floral tones and finishing off the dish I ate the bark on its own – the tart cherries highlighted by the smooth white chocolate.

    Finishing our desserts we were brought the bill – pricey but not out of line for the quality of the preparation and passion of the ingredient sourcing. Delivered with the bill were two cream puffs that our server described as ethereal – the best she’d ever had…they were good, but I’d not go that far.

    In looking back on our meal at Vie I most assuredly say that aside from the egg everything we had was good or great – Chef Virant is clearly a talented man worthy of all his awards and praise. That noted, there is just something about the front of the house at Vie that did not work for me – the room did not fit the food, the service was unpolished (our server really no better than one at Denny’s or Fridays,) and policy such as not offering the tasting and not informing us regarding the burger just seemed out of place for fine dining. Certainly not as impressive as the top tables of downtown Chicago I personally found Vie to be more comparable to Blackbird, though I preferred the later. A good meal, sure, but with all the great chefs, restaurants, and experiences in the greater Chicago area I just can’t see making that trek again.
  • Post #139 - March 1st, 2010, 6:31 am
    Post #139 - March 1st, 2010, 6:31 am Post #139 - March 1st, 2010, 6:31 am
    uhockey wrote:Offering cocktails or wine (we declined) and presenting us with the 8x11inch loose leaf-on-clipboard menu we ordered drinks - iced tea for aunt and coffee for myself....
    ... there is just something about the front of the house at Vie that did not work for me .


    I've had some mixed FOH experiences at Vie too. That said - for better or worse - I think if you order coffee to start a meal at places like Vie, there is a strong risk that you will be taken for a rube. I'm not at all saying that you are a rube, only that there is a good chance the restaurant will think you are.
    ...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 #140 - March 1st, 2010, 6:55 am
    Post #140 - March 1st, 2010, 6:55 am Post #140 - March 1st, 2010, 6:55 am
    Kennyz wrote:That said - for better or worse - I think if you order coffee to start a meal at places like Vie, there is a strong risk that you will be taken for a rube. I'm not at all saying that you are a rube, only that there is a good chance the restaurant will think you are.

    I occasionally start a meal with coffee, in particular if feeling a little logy. Guess that's a plus 1 for Kenny's theory. :)
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #141 - March 1st, 2010, 9:19 am
    Post #141 - March 1st, 2010, 9:19 am Post #141 - March 1st, 2010, 9:19 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    Kennyz wrote:That said - for better or worse - I think if you order coffee to start a meal at places like Vie, there is a strong risk that you will be taken for a rube. I'm not at all saying that you are a rube, only that there is a good chance the restaurant will think you are.

    I occasionally start a meal with coffee, in particular if feeling a little logy. Guess that's a plus 1 for Kenny's theory. :)

    Sometimes the coffee just confirms what's already known :)

    In all seriousness, I do cringe when people order coffee to start a meal at anything but the down-homiest diner. It overwhelms the taste buds and makes it very difficult, imo, to get a true taste of the food that comes afterwards.
    ...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 #142 - March 23rd, 2010, 7:25 pm
    Post #142 - March 23rd, 2010, 7:25 pm Post #142 - March 23rd, 2010, 7:25 pm
    Going to dinner at Vie on Thursday as a part of Chicago Chef's week. The menu is as follows:

    First
    la quercia prosciutto, marinated scarlet turnips, caramel apple jam, werp farm arugula, spanish olive oil

    Second
    gunthorp farm chicken breast milanese,
    ted’s organic polenta, fried tuscan kale,
    garlic and herb vinaigrette

    Third
    warm gooey butter cake, tahitian vanilla ice cream, brittled peanuts, chocolate sauce


    To those who have been here, how do these items measure up with the rest of the menu?
  • Post #143 - March 23rd, 2010, 10:50 pm
    Post #143 - March 23rd, 2010, 10:50 pm Post #143 - March 23rd, 2010, 10:50 pm
    Stephen wrote:To those who have been here, how do these items measure up with the rest of the menu?

    These items seem to line up very well with a typical Vie menu. I've been served the La Quercia product there at least a couple of times (though I always enjoy sous chef Nathan Sears' charcuterie even more). The house-made pickles and jams are definitely in their regular rotation and are notable strong suits. The stuff from Werp and Gunthorp are also frequent inclusions on their regular menu, although I can't remember if I've had ever had a Milanese there (sure it will be great, though). I can't remember a time when some incarnation of the Warm Gooey Butter Cake hasn't been offered on the dessert menu. It's a St. Louis tradition and that's chef Virant's home town. This version sounds wonderful to me.

    Based on this menu, I think you're going to get a very representative experience at Vie. I'd expect nothing less from them, so this menu doesn't surprise me at all.

    =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 #144 - March 24th, 2010, 6:30 am
    Post #144 - March 24th, 2010, 6:30 am Post #144 - March 24th, 2010, 6:30 am
    I'd add that Vie does frying very well, so all fried items, like the Milanese, should be very good indeed.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #145 - March 24th, 2010, 11:00 am
    Post #145 - March 24th, 2010, 11:00 am Post #145 - March 24th, 2010, 11:00 am
    I'm headed to Vie tonight so I'll try to post my experience tomorrow. I thought this menu looked good for a friend who is "picky."
  • Post #146 - March 24th, 2010, 12:56 pm
    Post #146 - March 24th, 2010, 12:56 pm Post #146 - March 24th, 2010, 12:56 pm
    Jean Blanchard wrote:I'm headed to Vie tonight so I'll try to post my experience tomorrow. I thought this menu looked good for a friend who is "picky."


    Apparently I will say hi to you there, Jean, as we are partaking of the chef's menu tonight as well, along with some friends and an overabundance of wine. Or at least I am planning to enjoy the chef's menu if I am able to resist what is on the regular menu
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #147 - March 24th, 2010, 1:06 pm
    Post #147 - March 24th, 2010, 1:06 pm Post #147 - March 24th, 2010, 1:06 pm
    We're there at 6:45 PM. Hope to see you!
  • Post #148 - March 24th, 2010, 3:54 pm
    Post #148 - March 24th, 2010, 3:54 pm Post #148 - March 24th, 2010, 3:54 pm
    I was there on Monday and had the Chefs' Week menu you posted. It was a great meal: La Quercia excellent as ever and nicely complemented by the jam and turnips, the Milanese (we were told Chef Paul was working the line and frying the chicken himself!) was delicious, with the fried kale being my favorite part.

    We also got the wine pairings for an additional $15 and they were very good.

    It was definitely comparable to other meals I've had at Vie.
  • Post #149 - March 24th, 2010, 10:47 pm
    Post #149 - March 24th, 2010, 10:47 pm Post #149 - March 24th, 2010, 10:47 pm
    Thanks everyone for responding to my inquiry. One last thing - what's the dress code like?

    Getting very excited for my trek out to Western Springs tomorrow.
  • Post #150 - March 25th, 2010, 7:35 pm
    Post #150 - March 25th, 2010, 7:35 pm Post #150 - March 25th, 2010, 7:35 pm
    Wanted to check in here and note that I had an outstanding dinner at Vie tonight. I took some photos with my phone that came out rather poorly, but suffice it to say that I can't wait to trek back out here for the chef's tasting. Great service, terrific, balanced flavors, and a relaxed atmosphere. A steal at 30 bucks.

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