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Chaise Lounge - New Chef

Chaise Lounge - New Chef
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  • Chaise Lounge - New Chef

    Post #1 - October 13th, 2008, 3:02 pm
    Post #1 - October 13th, 2008, 3:02 pm Post #1 - October 13th, 2008, 3:02 pm
    Ok so when we were at Chicago Gourmet a few weeks back we stopped by the Chaise Lounge tent for what I remember being a prit-tay tasty crab cake and a cool Waldorf Salad(raosted grapes ya'all!) It's been on my list to check out since then. Before I get into the grub at this joint, I'm surprised I haven't read or heard more about this dude from any of the foodie papparatizi or blog sites. I heard him telling an interviewer at Gourmet that he comes from a Blackbird, Avenues and Ambria background and I was all like "that's a pretty impressive pedigree for someone as young as he looks". Anyway, we went for a quick lunch and wound up spending 5 hours at this place. The only reason we didn't spend more time is because my liver went on strike from the massive amounts of liquor that was consumed. The usual suspects were all in attendence, myself, Dave, 5 Head and Stink Foot.

    Crab Cakes - Arugula, apple, dijon aioli
    We wanted to rekindle the CGourmet memories so we started with cakes. 95% of the time I order cakes I get pissed and swear I won't order them again because they're either all breading or so delicate they fall apart and are impossible to eat. these were more like love pucks! Nice firm hockey puck shaped cakes that, get this, were all crab! Good start homie... let's see what else you got.

    Croquettes - liquid swiss cheese, jamon serrano, grilled chicken roasted garlic
    Whenever stink foot sees croquettes on a menu she tends to get all giddy. These arrived at the table and were totally not what I expected. these were not the cheese stick shaped kitchen turds that come out of a good number of tapas restaurants in the area. Do you guys remember tidal wave gum from when you were kids? Think of that here with chicken cordon bleau flavors. It was serrano ham wrapped around thinly sliced smoked chicken wrapped around what I'm guessing is a swiss cheese bechemel or something then lightly fried. When you bite into the "ham balls" as I like to call them you get a splash of yum! To paraphrase the glutton, I wanted the girl to grab my ankles so I could lawn mower these things. We ordered a follow up of this later in the evening, no joke.

    Sweet potato latkes - pickled pear, mascarpone, pomegranate syrup
    I'm always a sucker for latkes and have yet to find any as good as moms. The combination of sweet potato, pear and mascarpone was good. Mascarpone is like ice cream cheese, LOVE IT! I thought the syrup was a bit too sweet for the dish but I was quickly scorned by the others and reminded of my stupidity. I really need to get new friends.

    Waldorf Salad - roaring 40's blue cheese, roasted grapes, yogurt dressing
    We needed something light to follow and I'll be god damned if I pass up a roasted grape on a menu. It's such a fantastic idea! The roaring 40's blue cheese was nice and mild, and a perfect fit for me because I think I want to like blue cheese more than I actually do. The flavors worked well together with the mild cheese a great accompanyment to the grapes.

    Baked Oyster cocktail - sundried tomato-horseradish butter, crumbled saltines
    At this point in the evening things are starting to get a bit fuzzy. I am a raw oyster kinda cat. I could eat oysters like Kobayashi could eat hot dogs. these bad boys were prit-tay tasty. They were just warmed through which is key from keeping them from turning into rubbermaid. The compound butter was a good compliment and not overpowering to the salty oyster. I wish they would list the type or origin of the oyster.

    Diver Scallops - creamy corn, purple potatoes, crunchy celery, bacon
    the memory of this one makes my loins tingle. The chef was walking the floor at this point schmoozing some tables so we got a chance to pick some info. He explained that this was his take on the flavors of a seafood chowder. then it dawned on us, this was a theme through out the menu. Reinterpretations of familiar flavors. I remember thinking that that was pretty F%#ing cool. The scallops were nice and caramalized on both sides sitting on top of this corn sauce that was so good it'll make you want to go make out with a homeless man just to restore balance to your tastebuds. This was everyone's favorite of the night.

    PB&J - peanut brittle, brioche french toast
    I am not usually a fan of desserts cuz it F*^ks with the silky smooth flavor of my Kettle One so I tend to forgoe the tradition. the others had good things to say however.

    Why did what was supposed to be a quick lunch turn into 5 hours of eating and drinking like victorious viking warriors? the place sucked us in. We all loved the white pillowy (is that a word) walls and the open garage doors that help unite the dining room and patio. The prices were nice too with all of the apps at $9 and with the exception of the Filet Mingon Entrees priced between $12-$24. I live close so I will definitely be going back to try out some of the entrees and I promise I will try to lay off on the booze a tad to remember a bit more. It's fun to be a 15 year old in Chicago.

    Chaise Lounge
    1840 W. North Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60622
    773-342-1840
  • Post #2 - October 13th, 2008, 3:07 pm
    Post #2 - October 13th, 2008, 3:07 pm Post #2 - October 13th, 2008, 3:07 pm
    Wow - there's a new chef at Chaise Lounge? Sweet T, who I guess was the former chef, just posted here last Thursday. Apparently he didn't last long.
  • Post #3 - October 13th, 2008, 3:09 pm
    Post #3 - October 13th, 2008, 3:09 pm Post #3 - October 13th, 2008, 3:09 pm
    nr706 wrote:Wow - there's a new chef at Chaise Lounge? Sweet T, who I guess was the former chef, just posted here last Thursday. Apparently he didn't last long.


    I meant new from the last time I as there. the dudes name is cary taylor
  • Post #4 - October 14th, 2008, 6:06 am
    Post #4 - October 14th, 2008, 6:06 am Post #4 - October 14th, 2008, 6:06 am
    Cary is a really dedicated, talented chef. I always imagined Chaise as a twenty something clubby spot, but the food is seriously good. It would be great to get the word out about this spot as much as possible to help them out.
  • Post #5 - October 14th, 2008, 9:53 am
    Post #5 - October 14th, 2008, 9:53 am Post #5 - October 14th, 2008, 9:53 am
    Thanks for the kind words guys. I'm glad people are beginning to see us more for the food. We have some good specials this week, including Wagyu Beef with Minnesota Wild Rice, Kabocha Squash, Brussels and our homemade Cranberry Steak Sauce. I'm psyched about a dish I've been developing with one of my top cooks where we steam P.E.I. Mussels in a SPiced Pumpkin and SMoked Bacon Broth. Pretty tasty. Hope you guys can come in to try soon
  • Post #6 - October 20th, 2008, 6:13 pm
    Post #6 - October 20th, 2008, 6:13 pm Post #6 - October 20th, 2008, 6:13 pm
    Hey Sweet T. I'm glad you're participating on our chat forum. I'm wondering if you'd care to share some of your favorite places to eat around town (other than your own, of course). Do they serve any special dishes? Have you had anything particularly memorable lately?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - October 20th, 2008, 10:16 pm
    Post #7 - October 20th, 2008, 10:16 pm Post #7 - October 20th, 2008, 10:16 pm
    Good call. Sorry about talking about the Lounge so much, but I don't get out much as you can imagine. But we are closed on Monday so I went with my wife to Habana Libre on Chicago Avenue tonight and it was excellent. I'm sure there is a thread on it somewhere on LTH, but I'll give you a really brief synopsis.

    IT's close to my house (which is always a plus) and BYOB, which was also great because I've been saving some wine and haven't had the opportunity to crack into them. My wife and I shared ham croquetas as well as chicken empanadas and veggie empanadas. They were very crispy and almost similar to fried wontons. Really delicious. I opted for the braised oxtail and they were the best I've had since we made them at Blackbird (maybe even better) and my wife had Camarones cooked in a Creole broth. Both entrees were served with black beans and rice and fried plantains. All this for under $50. Not bad in my opinion.

    I foolishly trekked to Hot Dougs today for lunch and he's on vacation. Settled for Fat Willie's Rib Shack on the way back home and it was not bad either. Shitty fries, but decent pulled pork

    We (my wife and I, that is) like to eat at Tarantino's on Armitage, Avec on Randolph, La Scarola on Grand, and I have an urge every day off to drive south to Lem's BBQ and Izolas. Those both remind me of my hometown in Georgia.

    Flo is great for brunch as is Jane's in bucktown. Any place that gives you a beer with your bloody mary scores points with me.

    Those are the one's I can think of off the top

    CT
  • Post #8 - October 22nd, 2008, 9:20 am
    Post #8 - October 22nd, 2008, 9:20 am Post #8 - October 22nd, 2008, 9:20 am
    Great info here. Honestly, I've lived in the neighborhood for 12 years and have avoided this location like the plague. I had been there a few times (under other management/owners) for a drink and just left, assuming that it was a cheap wine/crappy appetizer place with really nice interior design. I'm glad to see it has turned a corner and I'm happy to say that I will be making my way over soon.
  • Post #9 - October 22nd, 2008, 9:44 am
    Post #9 - October 22nd, 2008, 9:44 am Post #9 - October 22nd, 2008, 9:44 am
    Sweet T wrote:I wanted to let everyone know that we have a few seats left for our Hess Wine Dinner on Thursday. I'm doing a five course meal featuring Diver Scallops, Pork Belly, Arctic Char, Venison and, best of all perhaps, Chocolate. Call Chaise Lounge @ 773.342.1840 if you are interested. Tickets are $65 for a bunch of delicious food and great wine.

    Cary Taylor
    "Sweet T"
    Executive Chef

    The Restaurant at Chaise Lounge
    1840 W. North Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60622
    773.342.1840
    http://www.chaiseloungechicago.com



    Great to hear T. I live just down the alley and need to drop in soon. As tyrus said....I would Like to see this location suceeed. I would have to say the highlight of anything at this location so far was the mini-KISS concert (cover band made up of little people) on a flatbed truck outside of 'then' Iggy's.
  • Post #10 - October 30th, 2008, 8:01 pm
    Post #10 - October 30th, 2008, 8:01 pm Post #10 - October 30th, 2008, 8:01 pm
    For whatever reason, I have thought of Chaise Lounge as a trendy club-like place where food is an afterthought, so the bride and I brought low expectations to our visit for dinner. The space, the service, and the food all far exceeded our forecast.

    I found the dining room quite welcoming, with comfy leather chairs, 2-top tables that are twice the size of what's typically found around town, and plenty of space between tables to create a roomy yet friendly vibe. Service was casual (jeans, iirc) but informed (good wine pairing suggestions, accurate and helpful descriptions of the menu items), which fit right in with the rest of the milieu. Chef Taylor happily came out to greet us and tell us about the specials, and seemed especially pleased to learn that we were LTHers. He is genuinely fond of the forum, which he learned about from Chef GEB - his former boss at Avenues.

    We started with a beet salad and a root vegetable soup. Both dishes highlighted best-of-season produce which the chef said was purchased at the Green City Market. The golden beets in the salad were sweet and tender, and the greens had quite a bit of sharp-bite to them for contrast. The candied nuts and the walnut oil dressing were also nice, but I would have preferred a little more hit of acid to bring the dish together. A squeeze of lemon, perhaps - or maybe something a little more pungent than the admittedly good goat cheese that was sprinkled atop the salad. I thought the soup was a perfect, pure take on creamless cream soup . It had a beautiful orange color, and tasted simply like the excellent ingredients from which it was made. I assume that carrots provided most of the color, but the biggest flavor hit to me came from some terrific parsnips. The soup had been pureed to a silky-smooth texture, with a few bright-green beans and marinated mushrooms providing earthy and acidic texture and flavor contrasts.

    After a nicely-paced few minutes between courses, our salmon and roast chicken entrees arrived. The salmon had been seared to give it a really nice, crispy crust - while the interior remained a moist, juicy medium/ medium rare. The fresh-tasting fish was seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and served atop yellow lentils that I found just a bit underdone (possibly just a preference thing, but they really did seem too crunchy and a little chalky to me). Good sautéed spinach rounded out the plate. The roasted chicken was very good, though I wish the menu had made it clear that only the breast would be served. I don't think the chef could have roasted it any more perfectly though - it was juicy with incredibly crispy and flavorful skin, again seasoned simply with salt and pepper. And you can take away my culinary badge if this was commercial chicken and not a more artisan, probably locally produced free-range bird. It tasted like a real chicken - I just wish I could taste some of the better parts. Rounding out the plate was a very nice house made applesauce infused with rosemary, terrific roasted local carrots, and some delicious, baconny sautéed chard.

    Chaise Lounge was a pleasant surprise. I thought the prices (under $100 for 2 including four glasses of good wine) were reasonable for this quality of food being served professionally in such a nice space. Yes, there is a menu advertising $250 bottle service, and some other signs that on a different night, Chaise Lounge might turn into not-my-kind-of-place. I may stay away from late night on Friday and Saturday, but I'll definitely be back for dinner.
    ...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 #11 - October 31st, 2008, 5:26 pm
    Post #11 - October 31st, 2008, 5:26 pm Post #11 - October 31st, 2008, 5:26 pm
    Thanks coming in KennyZ. It was good to meet a fellow LTHer and get some good feedback. And by that, I mean good constructive criticism. I like the comments about adding more acid to a the salad. You'd make Charlie Trotter happy, for that is one of his most successful responses to food needing that little bit extra.

    I'm also glad that you noticed that we were professional in our casual nature. That's something we drive home here at Chaise Lounge. We don't want to be casual neighborhood pub food or haute cuisine. We don't want to be a sports bar or a trendy, pretentious club.

    Our mission is to simply be a cool place for people to relax, have a good bottle of wine and some great food that won't break the bank.

    I really hope to cook for KennyZ and his wife again as well as more LTHers that know what to look for and how to give great feedback that makes us better.


    Cary Taylor
    "Sweet T"
    Executive Chef, The Restaurant at Chaise Lounge
    1840 W. North Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60622
    http://www.chaiseloungechicago.com
  • Post #12 - February 1st, 2009, 5:45 pm
    Post #12 - February 1st, 2009, 5:45 pm Post #12 - February 1st, 2009, 5:45 pm
    We ventured out on a "balmy" January night to check out Chaise Lounge with some fellow LTHers (I'll let them identify themselves, if they dare). Justin and my first time there consisted of a birthday party in the bar/party room upstairs with overpriced bottle service (yuck) and indoor smoking (double yuck). But, since we've seen Sweet T posting, read some positive reviews, and had their perfectly good crabcake at Chicago Gourmet last year, we were curious about the rest of the menu and willing to overlook our first experience.

    Overall we enjoyed our experience with some items being excellent and others leaving us wanting. First, I think the interior, the clientele, and the menu are a little bit disjointed/distracting. It doesn't seem like they really have a clear focus with a strange menu consisting of few couple entrees and lots of starters, a resident DJ, a crowd that made us feel old, and a too-clubby vibe. Chef T came out and greated us and is obviously very passionate about the food, I'm just not sure if most of the people dining there care. Here's what we had:

    Spicy Scallops - Diver scallops with kabocha squash puree and togarashi spice

    The menu also states "grilled radicchio" as an accompaniment to this dish, but I don't recall any. As with all of the seafood we had this evening, the scallops were perfectly cooked. I liked th spice element and the texture of the squash puree was nice, but there wasn't enough of it to really get the flavor.

    Crab Cakes with apple, arugula, and dijon

    The were just as good and meaty as we remembered.

    Croquettes with oozing cheese, smoked chicken, jamon serrano, and roasted garlic

    The chef sent out extra so we could all taste these (there are 2 per order). True to their description, they were oozing and after several messy attempts, the last diner decided to eat his with a fork. I guess anything with oozing cheese is bound to taste good, but I don't think it wowed anyone.

    Mac and Cheese

    We probably didn't need more cheese, but this version of the standard is passable. We missed the caramelized cheese top that comes from baking or broiling, but it was a good stove top version.

    Grilled Shrimp with Aged Cheddar Grits and Roasted Peppers

    Perfectly cooked shrimp, nicely textured grits; give me an egg and I'd call this breakfast. Hell, serve it as is and I'd still be fine.

    Chaise Burger with Smoked Bacon, Aged Cheddar, and Hand-cut (sic) Fries

    Burger requested medium rare, cooked maybe a smidge under, but that's a whole lot better than over. A very good version (I was told, I didn't try any), but I'd be extremely surprised if the fries were hand-cut by anyone much less anyone at Chaise. They were fries, I ate 'em, but I wouldn't order them again.

    Shrimp Po-Boy Hot Bun

    I love Old Bay so I really enjoyed the shrimp filling in these mini sandwiches, but thought three was too much bread.

    We were planning on skipping out and going to Hot Chocolate for dessert, but Chef T had other plans. He sent us out three desserts (probably the whole dessert menu, as he explained that they don't really sell a lot of dessert). So I'll happily review them (and offer constructive criticism - he said he likes it!) and thank the Chef for his extreme generosity.

    Banana Bread Pudding

    I don't have the menu descriptions in front of me and don't remember all of the elements to this. It was a play on banana bread I think with some walnut. It was yummy, very moist, but a little boring.

    Home Made Smores

    I really did not enjoy this dessert. I just made home made s'mores last week (making the marshmallows and graham crackers) and I was disappointed by the average graham crackers on this version. I liked the char on the marshmallow, but the chocolate was just average. The biggest downer of the dish, IMHO, was the raspberry coulis. I didn't like the tartness with the marshmallow and graham.

    Apple Doughnuts with Coffee Creme Brulee

    I saved the best for last. This version of doughnuts is my favorite, cakey and dense, not too sweet and unglazed. The only thing I didn't like about the doughnut was the apple, which was almost like a chunky applesauce in the center, luckily it was easy to break it in half and spoon out the filling. The creme brulee though was FANTASTIC! A good coffee punch, a crispy top, a smooth creamy custard. Just what creme brulee should me.
    FIG Catering, For Intimate Gatherings
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    molly@FIGcatering.com
  • Post #13 - July 29th, 2009, 2:23 am
    Post #13 - July 29th, 2009, 2:23 am Post #13 - July 29th, 2009, 2:23 am
    I wish I had a camera with me last night at Chaise Lounge, as the food was plated as beautifully as it tasted. I'm not big on artistic, fancy schmancy plating, but somehow the vibrantly colored, sometimes whimsical designs here screamed "eat me" rather than "admire me". And eat we did, with much enjoyment.

    We ordered an all-seafood meal: fish tacos, shrimp and grits, and a halibut special with Veracruzish accompaniments/ sauce. Chef Taylor, who seems to spend as much time as possible greeting guests in the dining room, remembered us immediately from our last visit, thanked me for the feedback in the post above and described how he has incorporated some of the suggestions. He also sent out a taste of something we didn't order - tuna tartare with very finely diced (brunoised?) cucumber and melon. The tuna was fantastically fresh and meaty, and the dish was a quite refreshing start on this pleasant, warm evening on Chasie Lounge's patio.

    I loved the fish tacos. The shells were crisp and seemed to have been served right away after being freshly fried to order in the kitchen. Each of the four shells was stuffed first with some zesty red cabbage slaw, and then with a large piece of grilled mahi. Once again the fish tasted fresh, meaty and delicious. Nothing complicated about this dish, which just screamed freshness, and nothing I would change (with perhaps one exception: serve it with lime wedges for squeezing. I didn't need to ask for any, however, since I was drinking an excellent mojito which had plenty of extra wedges for me to fish out and use over the tacos).

    The shrimp and grits couln't have been any better. The grits were of the coarse-grind variety, and made with what must have used up all of the kitchen's butter supply. Just like grits should be. The true highlight of this plate was the shrimp themselves. Cary told us that they've started using Caribbean Laughingbird shrimp, which are small (slightly bigger than rock shrimp, I'd say) and intensely sweet specimens that are sustainably farmed (like the rest of Chaise's fish) off the coast of Belize, and never frozen. These shrimp were as good as the stuff I've had when I've been lucky enough to eat shrimp fresh out of the ocean water. Eating them instantly transported me back to the beach in Zihuiatanejo. It was a very generous serving. I wanted more.

    The Veracruz style halibut was good too, with especially succulent, perfectly cooked fish. The green olives on the plate were a bigger component than I would have preferred. Though they were tasty, and it seemed they had been soaked to remove some of the brininess, I still found them a little overwhelming for the more delicate halibut. Maybe I'd have liked them better had they been chopped up to add flavor to the sauce, rather than served in large, half-olive chunks. I guess there is a reason pungent Veracruz-style sauces are usually served with whole, crisp skin red snapper. I was missing something crispy on the plate here. Still, the flavors were robust, and I especially loved the intensely sweet tomatoes which added nice balance to the more pungent elements of the sauce.

    We had a moist and delicious carrot cake for dessert, with just the right proportion of sweet cream cheese frosting, and the most neon-orange puree you'll ever see adorning a plate. The glow looked like something from outer space, but was just pure, sweetened pureed local carrots from Nichols Farm, and man was it good.

    There was a party upstairs with well-clad patrons admiring each other's shoes and talking about music I don't listen to: the kind of stuff that at one point turned me off to Chaise Lounge. Maybe I've evolved into a more open minded person, because somehow the dichotomy seems to work at Chaise Lounge. The air of pretension, if it exists, is belied by the friendly, knowledgeable servers who are passionate about food, and by the food itself, which - while beautifully to look at - is at its core just really damned tasty.
    ...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 #14 - July 29th, 2009, 6:54 am
    Post #14 - July 29th, 2009, 6:54 am Post #14 - July 29th, 2009, 6:54 am
    Laughingbird shrimp are not farmed off the coast of Belize. How they are farmed, you'd know if you watched the new Sky Full of Bacon... short answer, they're farmed in a new way inland that protects the coastal habitat and prevents the pollution that is often a consequence of fish farming. Chef Taylor's all-sustainable seafood program is one of the subjrects touched on in the video.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #15 - July 29th, 2009, 7:04 am
    Post #15 - July 29th, 2009, 7:04 am Post #15 - July 29th, 2009, 7:04 am
    Mike G wrote:Laughingbird shrimp are not farmed off the coast of Belize. How they are farmed, you'd know if you watched the new Sky Full of Bacon...


    shame on me for being late to watch the latest episode. Gonna correct that today. I guess my confusion came from the fact that Laughing Bird is an island off the coast of Belize, so it sounds like the shrimp are named after the island even though they are farmed inland in Belize. Interesting, and I look forward to learning more.

    Either way, Laughing Bird shrimp are fantastic, and Chaise Lounge is an excellent place for folks who have not tried them to do so.
    ...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 #16 - August 13th, 2009, 9:54 am
    Post #16 - August 13th, 2009, 9:54 am Post #16 - August 13th, 2009, 9:54 am
    I got fired today. And right now…this moment…it’s ok.

    I’m in that short window of time before the reality of the situation sets in. Before I have to tell my fiancée that the wedding is going to be in the backyard. Before the next mortgage payment wipes out my checking account. Before I have to ask my stepdad for money.

    Also I’m trying to keep this whole involuntary layoff business from my fiancée for the moment. I’m acting casual as we head down Milwaukee to North Avenue for drinks and a bite. She is oblivious, smiling, and talking nonstop. Her lips move like hummingbird wings. The conversation turns to dinner.

    “I want to go somewhere fun though.” She says as she paws through a rack of laughably bright, overpriced clothes at a “vintage” clothing shop.

    “No shit.” I reply in my near-perfect Bill Cosby impersonation, overcompensating to cover my true mood.

    “Can we go somewhere we can sit outside?”

    Who is this woman? She knows I hate everything about eating outside. Those crappy al fresco pens. Half-assed intrusions to the public way. Dirty. Windy. Uncomfortable porch furniture. Flip-flop wearing assholes picking their toes as if removing grout. It’s for tourists and I’m in no mood for that shit. I’m about to trump everything with my employment status, but instead I say:

    “It sucks eating outside. Plus it’s hot tonight, baby, can’t we just pick up some tacos, go home and do it in the shower?”

    Her chin lowers, she stares at me over her glasses.

    My annoyance matures into panic. What to do…what to do. I’ll put my foot down. I’ll just tell her “no”, provoke an argument and we’ll get back on the bus. We’ll eat Cheerios for dinner again. Then, like a bolt of chocolate and vanilla swirled lighting, it hits me: Chaise. It’s an exquisite moment of clarity…calm. I feel as if Morgan Freeman has just started narrating my life. At the risk of speaking in platitudes, I feel like the king of Bucktown. Are we in Bucktown? I step back on the curb. Yes, we’re in Bucktown.

    A few steps and we arrive. The décor is stylish, approaching elegant, but with a decidedly casual feel. Plenty of room in the interior dining area, and there is an upstairs that I’ve never been to, but we're here to sit outside. The exterior seating area is intentional, spacious and comfortable. Perfect to pop in for a drink/bite without it being a big production. It’s just what I need to get my mind off today.

    We get a table and I order a beer. The waiter is visibly impressed with my Cosby impression, which has influenced everything from the way I saunter about to the way I contort my face as I read the menu. My lady is poring over the drink list. She wants a gin martini, but there isn’t one on the menu. I tell her that many drinks are not on drink menus. They got gin. Just order it. The waiter suggests a Manhattan, as the maraschino cherries are made in house, and quite delicious. She orders it, and as our waiter departs, she asks me how a Manhattan tastes.

    “It tastes like whiskey.” I reply, louder than intended. I’m in Early Stand-Up Era Cosby now…dragging out the syllables, long pauses.

    “I like whiskey, what else is in it?” She replies in a respectful yet defiant manner, reminding me of a young Phylicia Rashad, or perhaps the mom on Fresh Prince.

    “Nothing of significance.” I jazz bop back to her. “It’s going to taste like whiskey…” my Cosby suddenly and unexpectedly deteriorates into a Mitch Hedburg/Borat fusion. “…with a cherry in it.”

    She returns to the menu and mutters something about couples counseling, but I’m distracted by a ragged hipster couple and their funny pants. The waiter returns, we start with some small plates.

    Olive Plate:
    Image
    A handful of almond stuffed Spanish queens lording over some smaller darker colored ones. Also the olives were delicious. Consult your local olivemonger for more information.

    Scallops:
    Image
    Now we’re talking. The Hackeysack of the Sea. Neptune’s Cupcakes. The ol’ Sea Tomato. Nature’s McMuffin. I mean look at these. I’ve been craving these since I had the oversalted mouse testicles they call scallops at Azucar. These are huge, lightly seasoned, cooked perfectly and so tender…you could cut them with a fork. Served with a fresh corn and greens combo that I’d buy by the pound if I could.

    Fried Green Tomatoes:
    Image
    Not what I was expecting. Completely coated in a light batter, topped with clumps goat cheese, served on a smear of tomato puree. Those pink cubes are watermelon, which I initially mistook for fresh red tomatoes.

    Oh…we liked these.
    Image

    We continue drinking and talking, I’ve had three beers and ¾ of a Manhattan, so I’m feeling pretty full…maybe we can get out of here for less than $40. She has other ideas.

    Fish Tacos:
    Image
    A tender piece of white fish in a crisp taco shell. I wish I could be more specific, but I don’t remember anything other than they went very fast. There were 2 tacos and I could eat 30. Served with slaw and what they called chipotle salsa, but I don’t recall any peppers. Not very spicy, it was more like a smokey, tomato-heavy pico.

    Wagu(?) Beef:
    Image
    A special I believe. Served a medium rare, with squash blossoms (!), drops of mango nectar, and a Wall Street sized coke-line of mixed chili powder. The beef was flavorful, but I’m not a huge fan of red meat, and it was cooked a little rare for me. The accoutrement, however, was incredible. The chili powder hits you high in the mouth, almost in your nose. An earthy, sweaty heat, like licking cayenne pepper from the shallow valley between Salma Hayek’s shoulder blades. Mango nectar provided a unique sweetness for balance and relief. A piece of beef dipped in both made my eyelids flutter.

    Dessert: Carrot Cake:
    Image
    Served on a smear of fresh carrot puree, this adds a “real” carrot taste to carrot cake, which typically is overwhelmed by the cinnamon/nutmeg/whatever you put in a carrot cake. Topped with cream cheese, rum soaked raisins and pistachios. The raisins were a bit strong tasting…distracting even…until I found the right balance between cake, raisin, icing and pistachio. Even after all that food, we devoured this dessert.

    One more martini for me, a glass of red for the lady, and we were back on the street, happy, full and ready for bed. Let this day end on a high note, for tomorrow is another day and it’s going to suck.

    Without further gilding of this lily, allow me to conclude. I’ve only been here a handful of times, but Chaise is getting to be one of my “go to” places in Chicago. I recommend it without hesitation to friends and family and they have always thanked me afterward. I give it my highest possible recommendation: Two Giant Crabs

    Image
  • Post #17 - August 13th, 2009, 10:10 am
    Post #17 - August 13th, 2009, 10:10 am Post #17 - August 13th, 2009, 10:10 am
    lookjerk, my condolences for you're getting fired. I hope you find another job pretty quickly. I've been in the same boat for far too long, and it's not fun.

    I'm glad you had a good time at Chaise. A great meal is the most comforting thing in times of stress. Even though I'm flat broke and I shouldn't, I still indulge myself every week with a trip to one of my favorite places, although I'm definitely hitting the less expensive options more often. It brings a sense of normalcy to an abnormal situation.

    Good luck to you.
  • Post #18 - August 13th, 2009, 10:20 am
    Post #18 - August 13th, 2009, 10:20 am Post #18 - August 13th, 2009, 10:20 am
    I liked that a lot, thanks. These things can lead to bursts of creativity and clear thinking.

    The chile powder in your pic is this:

    Togarashi

    Buy it at any Japanese or Korean grocery for about 3 bucks. Enjoy the time off.
  • Post #19 - August 13th, 2009, 10:49 am
    Post #19 - August 13th, 2009, 10:49 am Post #19 - August 13th, 2009, 10:49 am
    Great post as usual, and sorry to hear about the layoff (been there, twice...it both sucks & rocks at the same time).

    You need to put that writing to work for you...is The Onion (or perhaps their A.V. Club) hiring?
  • Post #20 - August 13th, 2009, 11:07 am
    Post #20 - August 13th, 2009, 11:07 am Post #20 - August 13th, 2009, 11:07 am
    like licking cayenne pepper from the shallow valley between Salma Hayek’s shoulder blades.


    Excellent writing. I was @ the grand opening party but haven't been back. This'll change that.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #21 - August 13th, 2009, 10:47 pm
    Post #21 - August 13th, 2009, 10:47 pm Post #21 - August 13th, 2009, 10:47 pm
    jaybo, JeffB, Khaopaat and Jazzfood...thanks for the kind words and encouragement. It means a lot. Unless I get a job, my next review will be Popeye's. And just sides.
  • Post #22 - August 13th, 2009, 11:00 pm
    Post #22 - August 13th, 2009, 11:00 pm Post #22 - August 13th, 2009, 11:00 pm
    Lookjerk,

    Terrific post, good looking food and very damn funny.

    Think I'll read your post one more time.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #23 - August 13th, 2009, 11:50 pm
    Post #23 - August 13th, 2009, 11:50 pm Post #23 - August 13th, 2009, 11:50 pm
    lookjerk wrote:perhaps the mom on Fresh Prince


    Janet Hubert-Whitten, or Daphne Maxwell Reid? I'm visualizing the glance over the glasses and need to get the image right.

    G Wiv, if ye love any of us, please tell me that Salma Hayek quote is going to be on the masthead on Saturday (after GNR kickoff later today).
  • Post #24 - August 14th, 2009, 3:06 am
    Post #24 - August 14th, 2009, 3:06 am Post #24 - August 14th, 2009, 3:06 am
    The olives plate picture consits of Gordal almond stuffed, manzanilla, and black cuquiilo. Cary makes his own marinade, great photo!!

    The exact same olives are available at Treasure Islands in the city.

    Sorry for the plug, but it did say "consult your olive monger"
  • Post #25 - August 14th, 2009, 8:59 am
    Post #25 - August 14th, 2009, 8:59 am Post #25 - August 14th, 2009, 8:59 am
    Lookjerk,

    Great post. If you think the NAV MAN hasnt been fired... if she didnt want anybody to say anything then why did she always dress like that?
    Cheetos are my favorite snack atm.
  • Post #26 - August 14th, 2009, 1:05 pm
    Post #26 - August 14th, 2009, 1:05 pm Post #26 - August 14th, 2009, 1:05 pm
    Great post as usual, and sorry to hear about the layoff (been there, twice...it both sucks & rocks at the same time).

    You need to put that writing to work for you...is The Onion (or perhaps their A.V. Club) hiring?


    Excellent writing. I was @ the grand opening party but haven't been back. This'll change that.


    Terrific post, good looking food and very damn funny.

    Think I'll read your post one more time.


    Great post. If you think the NAV MAN hasnt been fired... if she didnt want anybody to say anything then why did she always dress like that?



    I might be in the minority here, but I wasn't all that impressed with Lookjerk's post. It may be able to get some play with the current state the Onion is in, but it wouldn't come close to cutting mustard during The Onion's heyday (inception-02). It was a little too vulgar for my liking. Allusions to sex in the shower, Cosby impressions, all over my head.

    Lookjerk, you do have my sympthay in lost job department, I've had some close calls lately with my current employer. Best of luck in finding a new job!
    Colombian women are skalleywags.
  • Post #27 - August 14th, 2009, 1:13 pm
    Post #27 - August 14th, 2009, 1:13 pm Post #27 - August 14th, 2009, 1:13 pm
    I Do It Daily wrote:I might be in the minority here, but I wasn't all that impressed with Lookjerk's post. It may be able to get some play with the current state the Onion is in, but it wouldn't come close to cutting mustard during The Onion's heyday (inception-02). It was a little too vulgar for my liking. Allusions to sex in the shower, Cosby impressions, all over my head.

    To each his own, fortunately.

    :roll:
  • Post #28 - August 14th, 2009, 1:26 pm
    Post #28 - August 14th, 2009, 1:26 pm Post #28 - August 14th, 2009, 1:26 pm
    I Do It Daily wrote: Allusions to sex in the shower, Cosby impressions, all over my head.


    This from someone whose handle is "I Do It Daily." :P
  • Post #29 - August 14th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Post #29 - August 14th, 2009, 1:49 pm Post #29 - August 14th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    This from someone whose handle is "I Do It Daily."


    That refers to eating Santander, not sexual exploits. Speaking of solid posts though......Santander you're the standard bearer. I'm still in awe of your accurate impression of Bayless' diction.
    Colombian women are skalleywags.
  • Post #30 - August 15th, 2009, 12:19 am
    Post #30 - August 15th, 2009, 12:19 am Post #30 - August 15th, 2009, 12:19 am
    First time at Chaise Lounge tonight . . . late, but just before the kitchen closed. I'll start by talking about the roast chicken because that's the dish that will have me running back here again and quickly. I have never had a juicier chicken, and so perfectly seasoned and crispy. The Israeli couscous was a nice accompaniment but I will be dreaming about this chicken all night (pathetic for a weekend, huh?).

    Also really enjoyed the mac & cheese. It was a tad heavy in bread crumbs, but still very, very good. Pulled pork was ok - juicy, and can't remember how it was described but there was absolutely no smoked flavor (maybe it was just braised and not advertised as smoked?). In any event, beautiful outdoor dining, great service, amazing chicken (friends had salmon and loved it), great atmosphere . . . . I just hope all of the sexy people at Chaise appreciate the cooking here because there is some major talent in the kitchen. Did I mention that I absolutely loved the chicken.

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