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Vie - Blackbird lite? Even Better! [edited]

Vie - Blackbird lite? Even Better! [edited]
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  • Post #31 - August 26th, 2007, 4:35 pm
    Post #31 - August 26th, 2007, 4:35 pm Post #31 - August 26th, 2007, 4:35 pm
    I count 14 dishes between the two of you, was this a tasting menu? And if so, is it available to the general public, and how much does it cost?

    Anyway, unbelievable, stunning photos. It makes me want to get back down there again..
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #32 - August 26th, 2007, 4:45 pm
    Post #32 - August 26th, 2007, 4:45 pm Post #32 - August 26th, 2007, 4:45 pm
    gleam wrote:I count 14 dishes between the two of you, was this a tasting menu? And if so, is it available to the general public, and how much does it cost?

    Anyway, unbelievable, stunning photos. It makes me want to get back down there again..

    There were 3 of us and we each ordered 3 courses, plus a dessert, from the regular menu. We each also received the amuse, the sturgeon and a delicious scoop of Veuve Clicquot sorbet (before dessert), which I forgot to mention above. The corn-okra, also sent out by the kitchen, was a 'side' that we shared. The mignardise were also shared.

    With cocktails, wine, other beverages and tax, the total was about $275, before tip.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #33 - August 26th, 2007, 5:10 pm
    Post #33 - August 26th, 2007, 5:10 pm Post #33 - August 26th, 2007, 5:10 pm
    Oh, I totally misread "2 adults" as "2 people".

    Cool, thanks.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #34 - August 26th, 2007, 5:22 pm
    Post #34 - August 26th, 2007, 5:22 pm Post #34 - August 26th, 2007, 5:22 pm
    gleam wrote:Oh, I totally misread "2 adults" as "2 people".

    Cool, thanks.

    We took our son, who is 10. He's normally a very good restaurant patron because he tends to be interested in food and cooking -- and he is a good 'tryer' with a decent appetite. And since my wife and I love Vie, we wanted to share the experience with him. He did pretty well last night, although he wasn't at his best. I'm fairly certain his squirrelliness didn't bother anyone in the restaurant but us -- he wasn't loud or disruptive in any way.

    But in either case, that's why we dined at 5:15 :D

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #35 - August 27th, 2007, 11:26 am
    Post #35 - August 27th, 2007, 11:26 am Post #35 - August 27th, 2007, 11:26 am
    So much for my claim that Vie can be a reasonable and wonderful dinner :D . But it is still true if one limits oneself a bit more (not that there is any fun in that).

    A good friend had his daughter's rehearsal dinner there last fall, and found the whole experience delightful as well, so it seems to be a good place for special celebration dinners.

    Spectacular posts, Ron. I have a Restaurant.com gift certificate that is only good on Tuesdays, so I am thinking that tomorrow night I really should go.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #36 - August 27th, 2007, 1:49 pm
    Post #36 - August 27th, 2007, 1:49 pm Post #36 - August 27th, 2007, 1:49 pm
    Thanks Ronnie for those fabulous pictures. I really need to squeeze in another visit to Vie. I've become a Vie "groupie."

    Tuesday nights are great when you can use that coupon.
  • Post #37 - August 28th, 2007, 8:08 pm
    Post #37 - August 28th, 2007, 8:08 pm Post #37 - August 28th, 2007, 8:08 pm
    My husband and I went to Vie Saturday night to celebrate our anniversary. It was our first time there and I had been wanting to go after reading all of the glowing reviews. I made the reservation for 7 p.m. on Open Table and indicated that we were celebrating our anniversary. Our appetizers were very good. My huband had the gnocchi and I had the scallops. Those were the best things that we ate that night. Unfortunately, our entrees were not that good. I had the halibut which was just okay---nothing special. The best part was the grits. My husband had the kobe steak. It was extremely tough. He has eaten kobe steaks at other restaurants and they have not been so chewy. And, especially at $33 it should have been a great piece of meat. We did not receive an amuse or any other "freebies" from the kitchen. My husband had the sorbet for dessert and I had the plum crisp which was very good. I thought that maybe the kitchen would have done something for our anniversary but when they didn't even write happy anniversary on the plate, we assumed that the restaurant just wasn't aware of it. However, when our waitress came with the check, she asked us "how our anniversary dinner was?" Based on our experience, we felt that Vie just didn't live up to all the hype. We won't be back.
  • Post #38 - August 29th, 2007, 6:47 am
    Post #38 - August 29th, 2007, 6:47 am Post #38 - August 29th, 2007, 6:47 am
    That's really a shame. I've never had anything that wasn't of the very best quality at Vie in all of the times that I've eaten there. As far as the amuse goes, I think that like most restaurants, the more you frequent the place, the more they send things out for your party. It sounds though like you had an off night and I'm sorry to hear that, especially on your anniversary. I hope you decide to give it another try.
  • Post #39 - August 29th, 2007, 9:41 am
    Post #39 - August 29th, 2007, 9:41 am Post #39 - August 29th, 2007, 9:41 am
    Took the daughter last night. Started with a dish new to the menu - a sort of a winter squash flan with shaved pear, almonds, and baby greens in a light dressing. Not totally successful, in that the individual parts were not that exciting, but the size and shape of them made it a little work to eat them together - if you did, it was a very pleasant experience.

    While I have been to Vie a number of times and they have me in their computer, I have succeeded in remaining pretty anonymous, and at the beginning of the meal our server (who amusingly had been our server in May the last time I went), kept explaining the concept of the place to me. I nodded and smiled. At some point this changed, for whatever reason. The amuse, a little bit of fish with some pickled fennel and herbs arrived after our flan.

    The daughter, at my urging, had the tomato watermelon salad, which was lovely. I had the summer beans, burrata and home-cured salami. It was good, but most surprising the perfect italian parsley was the dominant note and a very good one at that.

    For main courses we had the Green City Market vegetable pasta, big, thick fresh noodles heaped with vegetables in a light and subtle butter sauce that just kept developing as you savored it. I had the braciole in lentils and kale, which was steak meets braised pork shank, meets rich Illinois earth. Rich, deep and terribly earthy.

    To further inflame you bigmamma, the couple at the table next to us were celebrating an anniversary, and the lady's dessert came out with Happy Anniversary written in chocolate around the edge of the bowl. I have no idea whether that was Vie's idea or the guy requested it, but that is what happened. I was a little surprised by how busy the place was, so I can imagine that they are very busy on weekends. Like with all places, I am sure you will get a little better service, and more attention, on weeknights, which is not meant to minimize your disappointing experience.

    We also finished with the plum crisp. Plums are perfect, it was great. And if I had not had quite so much wine, we would have come in within my $50pp target, so it is still possible. In the past, when dining with the Bride, I have usually brought my own wine, but this time I relied on their offerings. A very enjoyable Meursault and a wonderful Casa Silva Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Paul and his father-in-law were both very much in evidence in the dining room. There also was a wine dinner that night.

    The daughter and I have no complaints at all :D .
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #40 - September 26th, 2007, 7:40 am
    Post #40 - September 26th, 2007, 7:40 am Post #40 - September 26th, 2007, 7:40 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Again, I'm so glad that we got this one 'under our belts,' so to speak. I love Vie and the food they turn out never fails to please me. I'm probably not alone in my belief that dining there in mid to late August is a must. Ordering at Vie is harder than at any other restaurant I can think of because their menu is so filled with fantastic items. Our party could go back there tonight, not order one thing we tried last night and still be utterly compelled. In fact, I cannot rule out another meal at Vie before this produce season ends.

    =R=


    When I stopped by the LTH table at S&W the other day, I mentioned to Ronnie S., that I kinda disagreed with his sentiment here. My feeling was that to some extent, Vie in August was a no-brainer. If he could not whip up a great meal then, well he had no right to wear his localvore crown. Come see him in February, that's the challenge. Perhaps it was all the wine, but Ronnie, nodded and agreed that maybe I was on to something. Of course, one should not necessarily wait until February to go to Vie. Late September, they were nailing it (as usual)--except for dessert, I'll get to that.

    We had a couple of the dishes pictured up thread, so just refer to Ronnie Suburban's post for the chicken three ways and the lettuce salad. Otherwise it was as follows:

    - The amuse was a riff on the Sicilian rice ball, arancini. Here the ball was made of salt cod and the stuffing was Venetian black rice. Salt cod and black rice being two of Chef Virant's favorite ingredients. This dish also (maybe) converted my kidz to bacala lovers. I've said this before, but it often seems like Chef Virant works from something like Joy of Cooking. It's encyclopedic cooking, the frequent versions of classics. The only problem with this dish is that there was only one ball per customer. For the record, it was served with a small arugula salad of proper local deliciousness.

    - Red pepper soup with croutons and house made feta. My wife found this the best dish she's ever tried at Vie. There was such intensity of flavor in the local Green Acre Farms heirloom peppers, magically enhanced with a strong dose of smoked paprika (another V fave).

    - Flan made of kuri squash. For some odd reason my daughter rejected this dish. I loved it. The texture and color was almost that of foie gras, but obviously it lacked the fatitude. Still, it was no slouch in the heaviness department, despite its name, and I mean that in a good way. Like most of Vie's food, the main attraction was accented with all sortsa fun things to eat like candied pumpkin seeds and thin sliced pear.

    - For MikeG, how to build a better caprese salad? How 'bout make your own burrata, fry it (which Vie just does so well, see also arancini above), roast some late season City Farms tomatoes, put the basil in the vinaigrette, and throw a version of Italian pickled veg on the plate too. My daughter especially loved the version of giardinara (I mean traditional giardinara, not Chicago hot version).

    - "Braciole" with beluga lentils and braised greens. The Vie staff must have been hanging out too much at Freddy's, huh? This was not your Nonna's braciole though. They used the much softer chuck for the meat. Who cares. What a wonderful dish; the beef was soft yet beefy, the bread stuffing solid yet moist and the tomato sauce vivid (in color and flavor). The greens went well, and Vie's lentils are great, but this could have used a better sopper like polenta.

    - Which brings me to my wife's dish, pan roasted halibut on top of creamy grits; the Vie fun things to eat category here being nuggets of house made bacon, seasonal chantrelles and some summer beans. My only complaint with this dish was that there could have been a bit more grits.

    - Which brings me to my complaints. As I alluded to above, desserts were not on par last night. Odd as desserts have always been spot on. Ice creams, horchata, buttermilk and carmel, were icy; sweet corn cake with maple cream was one of those few Vie dishes that just did not work. The corn cake was dry and the heavy cream just did not integrate with the cake. This was like something served for breakfast at Bongo Room, but not done as well. I will say that the kidz enjoyed their molten chocolate raspberry cake. Enjoyed it so much they forgot to let me try.

    - Stellar pineapple pate de fruit left us with a great taste in our mouth. It was also fun to note, as we did on leaving, when my kidz were schmoozing the hostess, that our table had been flagged as VIP. It's nice to be considered one, in one of the best rooms in town, even if last night's meal was hardly what I'd consider a VIP experience. Instead, it was the same outstanding meal I've come to expect from my favorite place.

    Which, which, also reminds me that I have to note, over the last few months, I've been to a couple of other places in the same genre of Vie including North Pond and L'Etoile, and I just find the quality, the achievement so much better at Vie. The dishes are creative yet grounded in classic, the ingredients as good as possible, the plates filled with unique accents like the famed pickles, and the executions being nearly always spot-on. It's will be harder and harder for me to visit other places.

    BTW, I'm amazed that Ronnie S and the guy on e-Gullet can get such great pics at Vie, given the darkness of the room. I did not even try last night. Also, in the BTW, for what it's worth catagory, service was its usual excellent.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #41 - September 26th, 2007, 7:45 am
    Post #41 - September 26th, 2007, 7:45 am Post #41 - September 26th, 2007, 7:45 am
    Vital Information wrote:Come see him in February, that's the challenge.


    Thanks for the report Rob.

    I agree about the "Virant February Challenge". For those interested, there's an account of a meal that I had there this past Feb. earlier in this thread.

    Best,
    Michael
    Last edited by eatchicago on October 5th, 2007, 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #42 - October 5th, 2007, 9:17 pm
    Post #42 - October 5th, 2007, 9:17 pm Post #42 - October 5th, 2007, 9:17 pm
    I'm starving. Thanks! ;)
  • Post #43 - October 11th, 2007, 1:37 pm
    Post #43 - October 11th, 2007, 1:37 pm Post #43 - October 11th, 2007, 1:37 pm
    I'm going there tonight, thanks for the preview.
  • Post #44 - October 17th, 2007, 8:51 pm
    Post #44 - October 17th, 2007, 8:51 pm Post #44 - October 17th, 2007, 8:51 pm
    Had another fantastic dinner at Vie recently which, if no longer a surprising experience, is no less enjoyable. The only sad part is that we'd eaten a late lunch and showed up a bit less hungry than we normally do. As such, we got to try fewer items than normal but many of them were quite memorable . . .

    Image
    Amuse of skate wing and pickled red onion
    I loved the way the rich skate and the fruity, aromatic olive oil paired with the sweet/tart pickled onion.


    Image
    Seared Hudson Valley foie gras with spiced Scottish shortbread, date puree, roasted local sunchokes and honey crisp apples
    Just look at the sear on that piece of foie gras . . . absolute perfection. I loved the balance between the sunchokes and the apples and the way that combination paired with the foie. The savory shortbread was ultra-short and complemented the creamy foie nicely.


    Image
    Wood-grilled, house-made beer-jam-glazed quail with wilted local cabbage, toasted spices, Pleasant Ridge Reserve Farmstead cheese and marinated beauty heart radishes
    Another great quail treatment from chef Virant. This man can flip me the bird, any bird, any time he wants.


    Image
    Pan-seared "hand harvested" sea scallops with toasted tarro root, pine nuts, raisins and local eggplant caponata
    Delectably seared scallops were tasty and texturally perfect. They were accented nicely by the caponata which was distinctive but not overpowering.


    Image
    Celery root fritter with house-made apple butter, preserved meyer lemon emulsion and wood-grilled treviso
    Here, I was expecting the celery root to be more neutral and in the background but it was front and center -- and deliciously so. I loved the other accents on the plate, which highlighted the fritters and made the entire composition sing.


    Image
    Warm salad of roasted Kinnikinnick Farm butternut squash, Hillside Orchards chestnuts, preserved local pears and house-made boar salami
    I didn't love this salad, which leads me to believe that I'm just not a fan of boar salami. I liked the chestnuts and the squash quite a bit but this generously-portioned salad was so filling, I was a bit worried about finishing it.


    Image
    Plapp Farm wood-grilled duck breast with crispy Byrd Mill grit cake, spaghetti squash, duck cracklings and preserved black raspberry duck sauce
    Wow! I loved this combination of flavors and the preparation was wonderful. Every component on the plate was delicious in its own right -- and together, the dish went way beyond the sum of its parts.


    Image
    Slow-cooked Kilgus Farm goat leg with crispy spaetzle, roasted turnips, house-made pickles, mustard sauce and local blueberry mostarda
    Not only was this the highlight of the evening it may have been the best entree I've ever eaten at Vie. I don't even know where to start. I've never had goat that tasted like this. The texture and seasonings were perfect. The other ingredients on the plate showcased the goat magnificently: the spaetzle were comforting, the pickles provided great balance for the fatty goat, and the blueberry mostarda brought it all together smoothly. Run to Vie and order the goat (I 'kid' you not). :wink:


    Image
    Marinated and wood-grilled sturgeon with sweet potatoes, roasted cipollinis, organic creme fraiche and roasted, Nichols Farm brussel sprouts
    I just had a taste of this dish but the sturgeon at Vie is always delicious and satisfying, and this was no exception. It had an irresistable crust and the interior was tender, rich and flaky.

    Not pictured is the marinated and wood-grilled "kobe" steak with a bone marrow dumpling, local broccoli & cauliflower, mushrooms, red wine sauce and fried sweet onions. This was my order on this night because as many times as I'd tasted it (or one of its variations), I'd never ordered it for myself before. The steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare. It was tender, with a little bit of chew (not sure of the exact cut). The sauce was deep and delicious and the broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and fried onions teamed up perfectly alongside the tasty beef. A safe order yes, but one I finally had to experience for myself.

    After entrees, we were served small portions champagne sorbet that refreshed our palates and readied us for dessert. As full as we were, I find it almost impossible to say "no" to chef Todd's desserts. I was glad I pushed the envelope this time around.


    Image
    Raspberry-lemonade sorbet (front), strawberry-banana sorbet (left), horchata ice cream (back) and shortbread cookies; all house-made
    A great variety of bright, distinctive flavors here. The frozen confections at Vie are always well-executed. I especially liked the horchata, which was as good as it was the last time I had it.


    Image
    Warm, caramel gooey butter cake with almond chocolate-chip ice cream, almond lace cookie and almond toffee square
    As I've posted before, I love the warm gooey butter cake at Vie. As the seasons roll by, so too do the specific incarations of this dessert. This time around, the theme was "toffee" and it was a very successful one in that the gooey butter cake pairs perfectly with toffee and its components.


    Image
    Local sweet corn cake with maple and white chocolate ice cream, maple-candied walnuts and corn tuile
    I loved this eye-opening dessert, which I'd never had before. It was like some sort of uber pancake, with the flavors more intense and complex than in a regular pancake, making it a perfect dessert variation.


    Image
    Mignardise of pineapple gelee
    Nicely balanced a bit to the sweet side, this little bite left a fresh light note on the palate after a meal of rich and intense tastes.

    Vie continues to hum along quite nicely. There's not much to say about it that I haven't already posted somewhere else on this thread. It remains one of my very favorite restaurants and the food speaks to me in a way that almost no other food does.

    The sensibility at Vie is one that just feels right. You know you're getting the best of all worlds (local and chef-selected remote sources) but there's nothing preachy or (as V.I. discussed in person) overzealous about it. Vie's menu offers a lot of lessons. But you're not made to feel as if you must learn them (all) in order to appreciate what you are eating. They are there for your consideration, and learning them can certainly enhance your dining experience. But, at the end of the day, the food at Vie is phenomenal whether you care about where the items on your plate came from or not. The real beauty of it is that unlike with so many other restaurants, the closer you look at this food, the more compelling it becomes.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #45 - October 27th, 2007, 1:59 pm
    Post #45 - October 27th, 2007, 1:59 pm Post #45 - October 27th, 2007, 1:59 pm
    This was my first visit to Vie despite hearing quite a bit about it over the past year or so. My friend called ahead and asked if they would put together a tasting menu for us. Unfortunately, I have no pictures, but I will describe them the best that I can. I was interested to see Ronnie's post and his enjoyment of the duck dish since we had a slightly different experience...

    Amuse: olive oil poached rock shrimp with eggplant caponata and arugula.

    This was a fantastic start to the meal. The shrimp was full of flavor and had a pleasing texture.

    First: celery root fritter, house made honey crisp apple butter, preserved lemon emulsion and wood-grilled treviso.

    These fritters were delicious if dangerously hot (I mildly burnt my tongue after biting into one). I was not as impressed with the accompanying sauces. While not unpleasant, I did not feel like they added much to the fritters. The meyer lemon emulsion in particular was a bit too jarring.

    Second: crispy artic char, yukon gold potato puree, kinnikinnick farm braising greens, french horn mushrooms and radishes with banyuls vinaigretter

    This course didn't do much for me. It was all decent but nothing stood out as exceptional.

    Third: red wine braised burgundy snails, roasted golden turnips, toasted walnuts, garlic and herb butter, wood grilled bread.

    I found the snails to be pleasantly chewy but a bit lacking in flavor.

    Fourth: plapp farm wood-grilled duck breast, crispy byrd mill grit cake, spaghetti squash and preserved black raspberry duck sauce.

    I want to make it clear that this dish actually tasted pretty good. In particular, I enjoyed the grit cake and the preserved black raspberries. However, the duck was tough. I mean tough. As in it was extraordinarily difficult to cut using the knives they gave us. What made it even more shocking was the it was cooked just this side of rare. I would have hated to see what it would have been like well done. But again, for all its toughness, it did taste good so when the waiter asked how we liked that course, I told him that I liked the flavor but it was rather tough. He apologized for that and a few minutes later the chef came out and apologized as well bringing with him a complimentary course of foie gras. This was unexpected but greatly appreciated (and delicious).

    Fifth: crispy slow roasted lamb belly, wieland family farm cannellini bean pureee, local tomato jam, spanish olives and parmiggiano-reggiano

    This course was easily the best of the savory ones. Although it was not listed in the description, intermixed with the bits of crispy lamb belly were succulent juicy shreds of braised lamb shoulder. While the lamb belly was good, the shoulder was the star of this dish. It was just so juicy and flavorful. I think I could have eaten an entire plate of the shoulder despite already being 5+ courses into the meal.

    Sixth: prairie farm krotovina, wood grilled strawberry jam, candied pistachios and sourdough.

    The jam was fantastic, but the cheese was only decent.

    Seventh: local concord grape soup with niagara grape sorbet

    Wow. The concord grape soup was so filled with grape-y goodness that it almost didn't real. This dish was incredible.

    Finish: dessert a la carte
    I had a pear tart and my friend had a maple corn cake that was recommended. I tried some of his, and I would concur. It was delicious.

    Despite the duck mishap, I really enjoyed my meal at Vie. I think it was certainly the equal of the meal that I had at Schwa this past summer. It was also quite reasonably priced at $90/person. My misgivings about the restaurant still do revolve around the duck. It was sliced before it reached our table. The person preparing it had to have noticed how tough it was. While I did appreciate the chef's gesture in bringing out the foie gras, I wonder about the customers who are too shy or intimidated to mention , as I did, that the duck was too tough. In any case, I would not hesitate to make a return visit.
  • Post #46 - February 6th, 2008, 1:43 pm
    Post #46 - February 6th, 2008, 1:43 pm Post #46 - February 6th, 2008, 1:43 pm
    Sun Times food editor Janet Rausa Fuller reports in today's edition that chef Paul Virant was awarded the title of Chicago's Top Celebrity Chef at the 2008 Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence, which took place last Saturday.

    Paul Virant, a west suburban chef with a penchant for pickling, on Saturday snagged the title of Chicago's Top Celebrity Chef at the 2008 Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence.

    It was the latest accolade for Virant of Vie in Western Springs, known for its seasonal menu. Last year, Virant made Food and Wine magazine's Best New Chefs list.

    Vie's Virant grabs area top chef award

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #47 - February 12th, 2008, 2:32 pm
    Post #47 - February 12th, 2008, 2:32 pm Post #47 - February 12th, 2008, 2:32 pm
    Would anyone know if Vie is doing their prix fixe menu any longer? I had heard that they offered this before, but I have not been able to find any proof of whether or not it is still available.
  • Post #48 - February 12th, 2008, 3:30 pm
    Post #48 - February 12th, 2008, 3:30 pm Post #48 - February 12th, 2008, 3:30 pm
    Lilya wrote:Would anyone know if Vie is doing their prix fixe menu any longer? I had heard that they offered this before, but I have not been able to find any proof of whether or not it is still available.

    When in doubt, call the restaurant. I've never seen a prix fixe menu at Vie but I have friends who've arranged with chef to have 'tasting' menus there.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #49 - February 12th, 2008, 5:32 pm
    Post #49 - February 12th, 2008, 5:32 pm Post #49 - February 12th, 2008, 5:32 pm
    For a tasting menu, all you need to do is call. They were more than happy to do it for us when we went.
  • Post #50 - February 12th, 2008, 10:53 pm
    Post #50 - February 12th, 2008, 10:53 pm Post #50 - February 12th, 2008, 10:53 pm
    I had the good fortune to attend a Slow Food benefit at Vie this past Sunday night. We had a great meal and a great time.

    Roster of chefs:
    Paul Virant - Vie
    Sarah Stegner & George Bumbaris - Prairie Grass Cafe
    Bruce Sherman - North Pond
    Carrie Nahabedian - NaHa
    Sean Eastwood - Isabella's Estiatorio & Olo
    Todd Feitl - Vie, pastry chef

    In addition to the participating chefs, beverage donations were made by August Hill Winery, Goose Island Brewery, Candid Wines, Fine Vines, Vintage Wines and Vin de Vino.

    Each of the participants created one passed appetizer and one course, with chef Feitl creating the dessert.

    Passed Appetizers . . . accompanied by choice of NV August Hill Winery Sparkling Frontenac Rose, Goose Island Reserve, Honker's Ale or 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

    Image
    Caveny Farms turkey gizzard with spice bread and heirloom crabapple butter (Virant)


    Image
    Hazelnut macaron with Uplands Cheese buttercream and bacon (Sherman)


    Image
    Olo bbq sauce-glazed Country Cottage chicken wings (Eastwood)


    Image
    Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese crostini with applewood-smoked bacon (Stegner & Bumbaris)


    Image
    Pata Negra Bellota ham and Manchego cheese with Jonagold apples and beauty heart radish on fennel-raisin toast (Nahabedian)

    Courses, in order of service . . .

    Image
    Poached farm egg with crispy pork galette, apple-celeriac coulis, arugula and pancetta (Sherman)
    2006 Georg Gustav Huff, Kerner Halbtrocken Kabinett, Rheinhessen Germany


    Image
    Another look at the beautiful farm egg


    Image
    Purdy Family 'Great Lakes' Lake Superior whitefish and kurobuta "fresh bacon" with wood-grilled bermuda onions, spinach, hedgehog mushrooms, celery root remoulade and red wine-lobster jus (Nahabedian)
    2006 L'Herminette Rosé, Tavel, France


    Image
    Country Cottage Farm chicken duo: crisp, olive-brined breast with olive spaetzle, brussel sprouts confit, herbs jus rotle and Ballotine of leg, stuffed with pistachios and apricots; artichoke and coriander casserole (Eastwood)
    2005 August Zieglar Pinot Noir, Pfalz, Germany


    Image
    Mint Creek Farm lamb loin and candied fennel lamb sausage with Tongue of Fire bean ragout and purple potatoes (Stegner & Bumbaris)
    2003 Domaine Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone, France


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    Slow-cooked Triple S Farm beef brisket with crispy bone marrow dumpling, roasted local roots, pickled garlic, garlic chives and red wine sauce (Virant)
    2001 Cusumano, Benuara, Nero D'Avola, Sicila, Italy


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    Wisconsin black walnut tart with Prairie Fruits Farm yogurt ice cream and caramel sauce (Feitl)

    Of course, service was excellent, as it always is at Vie. In our case, Maureen took great care of us. Thinking about it, Vie has one of the finest FOH staffs I've experienced anywhere. Across the board, they're professional, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and friendly. Slow Food was lucky to have them 'on the team' for the night.

    It was apparent that these chefs enjoyed working together, too. They're all fairly active supporters of the Green City Market, so I get the feeling they know each other pretty well. I was impressed with all the dishes but not exactly surprised because these are some pretty accomplished folks. Great ingredients prepared by skilled hands in a comfortable and relaxed environment . . . what's not to like? It all added up to a most enjoyable night.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #51 - February 12th, 2008, 11:17 pm
    Post #51 - February 12th, 2008, 11:17 pm Post #51 - February 12th, 2008, 11:17 pm
    good fortune


    Good fortune is finding a $5 on the sidewalk, or having sunshine on your wedding day. This high-class bacon fest is more like a cosmic reward for a lifetime of good deeds.
  • Post #52 - February 12th, 2008, 11:40 pm
    Post #52 - February 12th, 2008, 11:40 pm Post #52 - February 12th, 2008, 11:40 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    Lilya wrote:Would anyone know if Vie is doing their prix fixe menu any longer? I had heard that they offered this before, but I have not been able to find any proof of whether or not it is still available.

    When in doubt, call the restaurant. I've never seen a prix fixe menu at Vie but I have friends who've arranged with chef to have 'tasting' menus there.

    In an old eGullet thread ronnie_suburban wrote:I just learned that Vie is offering what sounds like a wonderful program on Monday through Wednesday nights: 3-course prix fixe menu for $30 and 50% off on all bottles of wine.

    I don't know if Vie still offers a prix fixe menu (I suspect not). Like the man said, call the restaurant.
  • Post #53 - February 13th, 2008, 12:36 am
    Post #53 - February 13th, 2008, 12:36 am Post #53 - February 13th, 2008, 12:36 am
    Rene G wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    Lilya wrote:Would anyone know if Vie is doing their prix fixe menu any longer? I had heard that they offered this before, but I have not been able to find any proof of whether or not it is still available.

    When in doubt, call the restaurant. I've never seen a prix fixe menu at Vie but I have friends who've arranged with chef to have 'tasting' menus there.

    In an old eGullet thread ronnie_suburban wrote:I just learned that Vie is offering what sounds like a wonderful program on Monday through Wednesday nights: 3-course prix fixe menu for $30 and 50% off on all bottles of wine.

    I don't know if Vie still offers a prix fixe menu (I suspect not). Like the man said, call the restaurant.

    LOL! Well, at least I can stick to my story because I only read about the prix fixe and never actually saw it.

    That said, I'm pretty sure the wine special is still in effect on Mondays but you know how reliable I can be :oops:

    Call the restaurant! :wink:

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #54 - February 13th, 2008, 12:45 am
    Post #54 - February 13th, 2008, 12:45 am Post #54 - February 13th, 2008, 12:45 am
    Santander wrote:
    good fortune


    Good fortune is finding a $5 on the sidewalk, or having sunshine on your wedding day. This high-class bacon fest is more like a cosmic reward for a lifetime of good deeds.

    Hehe . . . well, in the sense that the event ended up being completely sold out, it was good fortune that I remembered to call about it when I did. The cosmic reward, if there was one, surely goes to my wife who, for putting up with me, deserves all the bacon in the world. :D

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #55 - February 13th, 2008, 8:16 am
    Post #55 - February 13th, 2008, 8:16 am Post #55 - February 13th, 2008, 8:16 am
    Great pics as usual Ronnie, and again, how you can coax that out of Vie's dimness...

    As to the tasting menu issue: my wife and I have done it simply by requesting it after sitting down. It was no big deal on that night, no advanced prep or anything. I would add, as I have mentioned before, that as a concept, the tasting menu did not move us. Afterwards, it was like, we wanted this, wanted this; in other words I'm more happy there concocting my own tasating menu.

    (In fact, I've gone so far, of late to re-arrange some of the sides with the my entrees. I've also talked with them about spicey food. I've been told that Chef Virant's got a penchant for hot food but feels a bit afraid to let loose, something to do with wine friendly. So, I'm hoping one of these days to finagle an off-menu eat local fire meal from him.)
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #56 - February 13th, 2008, 8:50 am
    Post #56 - February 13th, 2008, 8:50 am Post #56 - February 13th, 2008, 8:50 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:I had the good fortune to attend a Slow Food benefit at Vie this past Sunday night. We had a great meal and a great time.
    =R=


    It looks like a fantastic event - what I wonderful line up of chefs and food! And fabulous photos as always, Ronnie!
    Life Is Too Short To Not Play With Your Food
    My Blog: http://funplayingwithfood.blogspot.com
  • Post #57 - February 19th, 2008, 6:20 pm
    Post #57 - February 19th, 2008, 6:20 pm Post #57 - February 19th, 2008, 6:20 pm
    We met some friends at Vie for dinner this past weekend and things were humming along quite amazingly. Because of the Slow Food event held on Sunday 2/10, the Vie people had missed their customary day off and this was the 13th consecutive day on which the restaurant had been open. In spite of that -- or perhaps, because of it -- this may have been the best meal I've ever had there . . .

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    Amuse of pork belly and pickled cherries . . . there's nothing quite like an unanticipated slab of crispy, sticky pork belly. This amuse was delicious and I loved the sweet/sour house-pickled Rainier cherries that accompanied it.


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    Berkshire pork cheek ''ossobucco" with risotto milanese, gremolata and parmigiano reggiano . . . a fun and tasty take on the traditional version. This was tender and delicious.


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    Yukon gold potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms, fines herbes and parmigiano reggiano . . . fantastic flavors and great textures. The gnocchi were light, with a pleasant density to them.


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    Creamy, farm-fresh eggs with perigord black truffles, butter, whipped cream and wood-grilled bread . . . this was so simple, yet amazingly satisfying. As a breakfast dish, this would make eggs benedict seem downright pedestrian by comparison. :wink:


    Not pictured: Roasted winter roots with picked herbs, house-made ranch dressing and farm-fresh deviled egg . . . another inspired dish, which really showcased the 'winter' skills of Vie's kitchen. If Vie were in California, this dish might not even exist. Instead, the "off season" inspired something truly delicious and original.


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    Cream of house-made sauerkraut soup with house-made boudin blanc, organic creme fraiche and rustic croutons . . . this may have been my favorite dish of the entire meal. The components fit together so well, with the slight tartness of the boudin blanc accenting the creamy sauerkraut perfectly.


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    Red wine-braised short ribs with horseradish dumplings, roasted beets and winter radishes, pickled beets and braising jus . . . perfectly braised and immensely flavorful short ribs were terrific, as were the dense, slightly chewy horseradish-laden dumplings. The beets, both pickled and roasted, were a great accent.


    Image
    Domestic lamb combination: roasted rack with house-made lamb sausage, served here with the sides that were listed with the short ribs . . . sensational rack (thank you, doctor :wink:), which was perfectly cooked and a beautiful puck of flavor-packed, grilled sausage. A fantastic combination.


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    Marinated, wood-grilled fluke with Wisconsin fingerling potatoes, herb aioli, pickled garlic, shaved radishes and fried, house-made pickles . . . I'm not sure which part of this dish I liked the most . . . the rich, wood-grilled fluke, the tender, delicate potatoes, the intense aioli or the decadant fried pickles. What a great dish!


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    Gunthorp Farm chicken 2 ways: breaded, fried breast and crispy chicken-sausage pierogis with beer-braised cabbage, pickled red onion and jus de poulet . . . this was also just amazing. As much as I loved the short ribs, I ended up commandeering this plate because it was simply glorious. The breast was crispy and juicy, the pierogi were just awesome; their filling was aggressively seasoned and moist, and their exteriors were browned to perfection.


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    House-made pot pie of Burgundy escargot and chestnuts . . . this was another treat sent out to the table by the kitchen and what a treat it was. The buttery pastry matched up extremely well with the escargot and the chestnuts provided a tasty, textural contrast. I loved the fresh herbs, too, which elevated the dish even further.


    Image
    Side dish of new potatoes and spicy, pickled green beans . . . this was another side that was sent out by the kitchen. The tender, roasted potatoes -- cooked in duck fat -- were accented just wonderfully by the slightly spicy pickled green beans. I loved this one.


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    Prairie Fruits Farm chevre with slivered almonds, house-made jam and toast . . . yet another treat from the kitchen, this cheese course bridged the gap beautifully between the savory and sweet courses. The rich, pungent cheese seemed to have a hint of smokiness to it, which was great. I also loved the house-made jam, which was aromatic and perfectly balanced between sweet and tart.


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    Intermezzo of Rosé sorbet . . . tasty, refreshing bridge between the cheese and the sweets.


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    Tahitian vanilla creme brulee with cinnamon butter cookies, maple & orange granola and sweetened, whipped creme fraiche . . . what a glorious rendition! Not only was the dish executed masterfully, but the well-matched accompanying elements would have even been great on their own. I loved every aspect of this compelling dessert. Not long ago some friends and I were discussing our feeling that creme brulee is so often a perfunctory waste of space. In this instance, however, the dish was both distinctive and memorable.


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    Cornmeal doughnuts with organic buttermilk ice cream, lady finger Spring Valley Farm caramel-coated popcorn and caramel sauce . . . great flavors and textures here. The rich doughnuts were crispy and tender and the buttermilk ice cream provided a perfect cool and creamy sour note that foiled their richness very successfully.


    Image
    Chef Gabriel Rucker's 'Au Bon Cannard' foie gras ice cream with profiteroles and caramel sauce . . . ok, this wasn't quite the 'Iron Chef' moment we thought it might be. After being advised by a few staffers that this dessert -- served at Vie during a recent guest stint by chef Rucker of Le Pigeon in Portland, OR -- should not be missed, we ordered it. In spite of our initial concerns, it was great. The ice cream tasted like cold, creamy, maple-y sweet butter. Joe Moore would have loved this one :wink:


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    Warm caramel gooey butter cake with almond-chocolate chip ice cream, almond lace cookie and almond toffee square . . . yet another innovative and satisfying incarnation of what has become my favorite Vie dessert. The gooey butter cake is always great but the caramel element, combined with the delicious ice cream, made this one of my favorite versions.


    Image
    Illinois black walnut brittle . . . a crunchy, tasty last bite in which the funkiness of the black walnuts really came through. It was sweet too, but not to the point where the distinctive nuts were obscured. Very nice.


    Vie continues to hit me on such an emotional and spiritual level, it's hard to analyze it. Each time I go there, I'm impressed by the way the dishes build in impact as the meal progresses. At so many other restaurants, after the short, intense burst of flavors provided by the starter courses, the entrees often fail to compel, and the momentum is lost. But at Vie, the exact opposite is true. Yes, the appetizers literally appetize -- hell, they dazzle -- but the inspired, imaginative and satisfying entrees just blow you away. There is no palate fatigue at Vie. Chef Virant and his crew may have the best senses of culinary build and pacing that I have experienced. The menu at Vie changes frequently and while that definitely benefits the diner, it's significant in that seems to be a natural extension of how this crew is constantly pushing themselves to build on what they have already accomplished. When you dine at Vie, you're tapping into the ongoing creative process of a uniquely-talented chef and a kitchen with a truly artistic sensibility. I'm sure customer satisfaction is important at Vie but I get the feeling that no one is harder to satisfy than chef Virant himself.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    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 #58 - February 19th, 2008, 8:32 pm
    Post #58 - February 19th, 2008, 8:32 pm Post #58 - February 19th, 2008, 8:32 pm
    Looks great....

    ...even better than I remember! 8)
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #59 - February 19th, 2008, 10:55 pm
    Post #59 - February 19th, 2008, 10:55 pm Post #59 - February 19th, 2008, 10:55 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Not pictured: Roasted winter roots with picked herbs, house-made ranch dressing and farm-fresh deviled egg . . . another inspired dish, which really showcased the 'winter' skills of Vie's kitchen. If Vie were in California, this dish might not even exist. Instead, the "off season" inspired something truly delicious and original.


    Argh! What happened? :wink:

    Gorgeous photos Ron - and sentiments.
  • Post #60 - May 18th, 2008, 9:34 pm
    Post #60 - May 18th, 2008, 9:34 pm Post #60 - May 18th, 2008, 9:34 pm
    Vie is for Volume – Vie

    There is a thin sounding board – a line in the decibel sand – between excitement and exasperation. Restaurants as organizations appeal to their market niche not just in cuisine and cost, but in clamor and clatter. And the politics of noise can be the undoing – or the doing – of sterling restaurants.

    Last Saturday, frightened by the ongoing repairs on the Edens Expressway, feeling cut off from the Chicago dining hub, my wife and I headed west: to Western Springs and Vie, a restaurant that I had once visited on a calm – nearly empty – Tuesday night. Arriving Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. we were escorted into a jangling, buzzy dining space (Vie has a warren of small spaces, not well soundproofed). Despite polished service and Chef Paul Virant’s impressive and confident locavore, seasonal cuisine, what was most memorable about the first half of the meal was the roar of conversation: and this in a restaurant where the tables are not snugly packed and the diners are not screaming sweet nothings. While the core of a review should properly be what is on the plate, it was sound that was on the mind. If Vie hopes to compete with the Chicago luxe restaurants and not to be a glorious bar-and-grill, Chef Virant needs to call his decorator. He gets an earful from this diner.

    Given that this review lacks a sound track, I turn to the Chef’s doing. At most restaurants the appetizers are the star: the meal goes downhill from the start. This is not true at Vie: our entrees stole the show. True, my wife ordered a salad (Local Lettuces, Marinated and Shaved Fresh Hearts of Palm, Garlic and Herb Vinaigrette, Parmigiano-Reggiano), and, true, she enjoyed it exceptionally. For me it was a nicely done play on a Caesar-type salad, impressive within the genre.

    Image

    My appetizer was Wood-Grilled Gunthorp Farm Duck Breast, Cracklings, Arugula, Black Raspberry Aigre-Doux, and Tatsoi (a type of bok choi; Vie helpfully places a glossary on their menu). The combination was very nice indeed, although I found the duck undercooked (mostly a problem of texture). With duck cooked more to my liking, this would have been a superior dish, especially because of the remaining textures and the pungency of the flavors.

    Image

    As a main course my carnivore partner selected Marinated and Wood-Grilled Painted Hills Strip Steak (provenance is vital at locavore haunts), Baked Wisconsin Cheddar Toast, Local Asparagus, and Creamed Spence Farm Ramps (no other farm will suffice!). As with my appetizer, the meaty center of the meal was enlivened by a set of pungent companions. The dish didn’t need Worcester to have zip and zing. The beef flavor and texture did not dominate but was nicely matched.

    Image

    My entrée was splendid. Throughout this mid-May menu Chef Virant teased the diner with seasonal morels in various guises. And I finally gave in to morels, baked crepes, goats milk ricotta (I believe), green garlic vinaigrette, and local Bordeaux spinach. The dish was a triumph. The morels were perfectly tender (and well-cleaned) and the garlic and crepes matched them bite for bite. Chef Virant is as expert a vegetarian as is Chef Trotter (whose vegetarian menu often surpassed his open menu: even with foie gras!). This was the dish that I will treasure: Vie is for Virtuosity.

    Image

    Desserts were both successful. Baba Au Rhum is difficult to destroy, but Vie’s version – Baba Au Whisky, Dooley’s Toffee Liqueur Ice Cream, Candied Walnuts, and Caramel Sauce – is very lush. Without the whisky, it might have been too sweet, but the alcohol keeps the sugar at bay. The warm Caramel Gooey Butter Cake, Almond Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Almond Lace Cookie, and Almond Toffee Square was also sweetly striking. Although I am not a fan of “gooey” as a gourmet adjective, this cake was gooey. The toffee square was more chewy than I prefer. It was more taffy than toffee, but well-made.

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    Image

    Vie consistently turns out impressive cuisine. While not aiming for a pastoral environment, Chef Virant has made Vie into a destination, not only when the Illinois Department of Transportation directs traffic his way.

    Vie
    4471 Lawn Avenue
    Western Spring, IL
    708-246-2082
    http://www.vierestaurant.com

    Vealcheeks
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik

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