LTH Home

custom house

custom house
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 2
  • custom house

    Post #1 - January 7th, 2006, 2:25 pm
    Post #1 - January 7th, 2006, 2:25 pm Post #1 - January 7th, 2006, 2:25 pm
    Despite some testy reviews, Custom House in my opinion is wonderful. Some people have been put off by the steaks being pre-cut, but I loved my hanger steak in the way they served it.

    Service was great, as usual, with the zebra/Spring/custom house group.
  • Post #2 - January 7th, 2006, 3:49 pm
    Post #2 - January 7th, 2006, 3:49 pm Post #2 - January 7th, 2006, 3:49 pm
    My only complaint was being shown to an undesirable table at first, when there were many more desirable tables open. They accommodated our party of four and gave us a nicer table when we requested it, but I never understand why restaurants just don't do that in the first place. (I can easily understand a restaurant seating you at a bad table when it's the only table left, but when many good tables are available, being shown to a bad one sends a most unhospitable signal.)

    Our food was delicious, from first course to last. In particular I enjoyed the sturgeon appetizer. Our waitress was friendly, the service reasonably efficient.
  • Post #3 - January 8th, 2006, 8:31 am
    Post #3 - January 8th, 2006, 8:31 am Post #3 - January 8th, 2006, 8:31 am
    riddlemay wrote:My only complaint was being shown to an undesirable table at first, when there were many more desirable tables open..

    Riddlemay,

    Funny, but the only thing I've consistently liked, in two visits, has been the table we were given. :) Consistency, both in service and food, seem to be an issue. Dinner our waitress was hopelessly out of her depth, even to the point of becoming nervous and apologetic, lunch a few weeks later, our waiter professional, knowledgeable, yet relaxed in demeanor.

    Food wise, if my $38 New York strip steak was dry-aged then I'm a long-legged fashion model on a Milan runway, little depth of flavor and no detectable dry-age mineral tang. On the other hand the rib-eye was really quite good. Other dishes were all across the board, polenta with cream and parmesean slightly gummy with a mouth feel similar to baby food, sardines with picholine olives very good, cannellini beans served with the baby lamb undercooked, risotto horrifically salty, beets with white balsamic and mascarpone flat out terrific.

    Yes, I know, Custom House is a relatively new restaurant, not to be mean, but so what? They are charging full price, which at dinner easily comes to over $100 per person, have an exceptional pedigree, but are still wildly inconsistent. I'm sure Custom House will settle in to a groove, which may very well mean offering nice, upscale meals to tourists and ersatz foodies or, hopefully, the food, 100% of the food, not 50%, will start tasting as good as it reads.

    riddlemay wrote: In particular I enjoyed the sturgeon appetizer.

    Riddlemay, was that the apple cider cured sturgeon with julienned apple? If so, I agree, that's one hell of a appetizer.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - January 8th, 2006, 11:55 am
    Post #4 - January 8th, 2006, 11:55 am Post #4 - January 8th, 2006, 11:55 am
    G Wiv wrote:I'm a long-legged fashion model on a Milan runway

    Picturing Gary in a slinky black gown on a Milan runway ... I'll have so many nightmares ...
  • Post #5 - January 8th, 2006, 3:06 pm
    Post #5 - January 8th, 2006, 3:06 pm Post #5 - January 8th, 2006, 3:06 pm
    I'd have to agree with Gary's assessment. My visit could only be described kindly as mediocre (and like I said, that's putting it kindly). Most dishes as well as the service were solid misses, with a couple of gems thrown in so as to make the evening not a complete and total loss.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - January 8th, 2006, 4:03 pm
    Post #6 - January 8th, 2006, 4:03 pm Post #6 - January 8th, 2006, 4:03 pm
    Here's a Reader review. Wonder who the "salt prick" could be.

    http://www.chicagoreader.com/rrr/news/whatsnew/

    (Note, if you follow this link after the next few weeks, you'll have to hunt for the Custom House review in the index of past items.)
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #7 - January 8th, 2006, 9:45 pm
    Post #7 - January 8th, 2006, 9:45 pm Post #7 - January 8th, 2006, 9:45 pm
    Mike Sula in The Reader wrote:One friend who admits "I like to be a prick about salt" and stocks more than 20 varieties in his kitchen was served the iodized granulated kind before he spoke up and got some sea salt.

    Being fond of Chicago history, I like the fact that Custom House recalls the old name of its South Loop neighborhood, the Custom House Levee District. Hotel Blake, where Custom House is located, has an interesting history. It was originally the Morton Salt Company and its developers wanted to name it Hotel Morton (but that didn’t sit well with Morton’s Steakhouse). I find it quite fitting that when salt is requested, Custom House serves little dishes of Morton’s iodized. Such attention to detail!

    On the topic of Custom House’s food, I thought there were several extraordinary dishes but others less so. As mentioned above, the beet salad with mascarpone was astonishing, easily one of the best things I ate all last year. Braised veal cheeks made a very fine dish too. The short rib was another excellent offering. The contrast in texture between the upper and lower halves was fascinating and showed some real skill and care in the kitchen. Horseradish-cream puffs were a terrific accompaniment. Still, at over $100 per head, I would expect most dishes to be at this elevated level.
  • Post #8 - January 9th, 2006, 12:14 pm
    Post #8 - January 9th, 2006, 12:14 pm Post #8 - January 9th, 2006, 12:14 pm
    Gary wrote:
    Riddlemay,
    Funny, but the only thing I've consistently liked, in two visits, has been the table we were given.

    Is it my breath?

    Was that the apple cider cured sturgeon with julienned apple? If so, I agree, that's one hell of a appetizer.

    It was, and I'm glad you agree. You know, I kind of agree with the overall thrust of your post (about the other food disappointing you) in one respect. I liked my main course (some kind of meat) just fine, but it was the appetizer and the dessert that seemed outstanding. Whatever I had in the middle was perfectly enjoyable, but unmemorable.
  • Post #9 - January 11th, 2006, 9:03 am
    Post #9 - January 11th, 2006, 9:03 am Post #9 - January 11th, 2006, 9:03 am
    I had a fantastic meal at Custom house last night. My boyfriend and i shared the sturgeon and sweetbreads for appetizers. The Sturgeon was thinly sliced, with match stick fuji apple and caviar dabbled on top which was very refreshing and light but at the same time brought out the unique taste of sturgeon. The sweetbreads were served in a staube pot (very easy to eat from) and there was some fatty slices of pork and mushrooms underneath, easily one of the best sweetbreads i have ever had.

    For entrees, i had the duck with pumpkin squash and confit and my boyfriend had the lamb. Both were out of this world. We ordered a potato sidedish that is cooked in meat juice and the blue cheese cauliflower, we couldn't stop eating both.

    Dessert was a chocolate sorbet and a chocolate peanut butter tart. We swallowed that in 3 gulps even though both of us were beyond full at that point.

    I must say after last night's meal, i am surprised to hear people saying the portion is small. That is not true at all. In fact, had i known how big everything was going to be, i would have ordered one less appetizer and one less side dish.

    As for the difficulty of eating the lamb from the pot. PLEASE....
    It just seems to me it is that patron who is being difficult.

    We talked to Chef Rich Camarota (from Cafe Spiaggia) and he also asked us if it was hard to eat from the staube pots. Apparently, he read those reviews as well and they started putting an empty dish next to the lamb pot. Interestingly enough, neither my boyfriend or I used it at all.


    All in all, it was a great meal. It is definitely not inexpensive but I must say reasonable for the food quality, ambience and very much in line with other competitors.

    Our server Clare was helpful, a bit quirky but nonetheless very competent.

    I will recommend Custom House to anyone.
  • Post #10 - January 11th, 2006, 11:33 am
    Post #10 - January 11th, 2006, 11:33 am Post #10 - January 11th, 2006, 11:33 am
    agnesfong wrote:I must say after last night's meal, i am surprised to hear people saying the portion is small. That is not true at all. In fact, had i known how big everything was going to be, i would have ordered one less appetizer and one less side dish.

    As for the difficulty of eating the lamb from the pot. PLEASE....
    It just seems to me it is that patron who is being difficult.

    Agnes,

    I must be missing something as I just reread the above thread and nowhere is either portion size or difficulty of eating from pots, Staube or otherwise, mentioned.

    agnesfong wrote:I will recommend Custom House to anyone.

    You meal sounds quite nice, a few more reviews like yours and I may be willing to give Custom House another try, though not for a few months.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #11 - January 11th, 2006, 12:02 pm
    Post #11 - January 11th, 2006, 12:02 pm Post #11 - January 11th, 2006, 12:02 pm
    I'm pretty sure, since she posted there as well, that agnes was replying to this review over at metromix:

    January 7, 2006
    dominic
    chicago, IL
    I don't care how nice a restauarant looks, if they don't deliver on food. Alot of the items are well concieved, but are poor in the presentation and execution. Difficult to eat lamb chops out of a Staub pot, it should be used for serving instead. A number of the food sides were ice cold, but they sure looked great. I am sure they will iron out their problems soon, but until then, wait.


    Why people bother with metromix, I don't know. But aside from the staub comment, it sounds like any number of other LTHers critiques.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #12 - January 11th, 2006, 1:21 pm
    Post #12 - January 11th, 2006, 1:21 pm Post #12 - January 11th, 2006, 1:21 pm
    gleam wrote:Why people bother with metromix, I don't know. But aside from the staub comment, it sounds like any number of other LTHers critiques.


    I think my favorite metromix review of all time was when someone criticized one of the better sushi places in town because their nori was crisp :? Perhaps the trendy set is only into rubbery, store bought maki these days.
  • Post #13 - January 11th, 2006, 2:40 pm
    Post #13 - January 11th, 2006, 2:40 pm Post #13 - January 11th, 2006, 2:40 pm
    Sorry if i sounded like i am responding to G Wiv's comment. Indeed i was responding to other reviews i read in metromix. Both the difficulty eating from the pot and also the portion size (one is from a patron and the other is the reviewer from metromix). I don't know why i even read the reviews on metromix myself, probably out of curiosity. :D
  • Post #14 - February 12th, 2006, 6:29 pm
    Post #14 - February 12th, 2006, 6:29 pm Post #14 - February 12th, 2006, 6:29 pm
    The girlfriend took me to Custom House last night for my birthday and wow, did we love it. Her original choice was Matsumoto, but due to the uncertainty surrounding that restaurant we made the switch.

    We arrived for our 8pm reservation only to be shown into the bar, things were running a few minutes behind. Not a problem, since it gave us the chance to enjoy a couple of glasses of bubbly and soak in the atmosphere. The space is truly beautiful. After about a 10 minute wait we were shown to our table.

    For appetizers I started off with the beef tartare, advertised as the best in the city in Phil Vettel's recent review. It was very good, but I don't know about the best. The beef itself was of very high quality, but I thought the dish overall was a bit underseasoned. It was served with some grilled bread which had just a tad too much olive oil on them. A nice touch was the quail egg, sliced in half, cooked so the yolk was barely held together. The whole thing was tasty, if not a bit challenging to eat. The GF had the tuna tartare. Served with the same grilled bread, the tuna itself was gorgeous and pristinely fresh. The tartare had a nice citrusy background which complimented the tuna nicely.

    For our main courses I went with the braised veal cheeks and the GF went with the scallops. We ordered two sides, truffle risotto and salsify. The veal cheeks were absolutely outstanding. The dish was advertised as "Veal cheeks, tomato and anchovy". I couldn't pick up the anchovy in the rich sauce, but that didn't really matter since the whole thing was just so darn good. They gave me a steak knife to eat the cheeks with, but it wasn't even close to necessary. The dish also included diced carrots and celery which were fresh and crisp. The truffle risotto was a layup. Perfectly rich, buttery and truffley (and not salty :wink: ). The salsify was interesting. It was prepared with vanilla and orange. The sweetness was almost a bit too much, but provided a nice foil for the richness of the veal cheeks. I thought it would have been nice to have a couple of extra plates for the side dishes, since there isn't a whole lot of room on the main plates to hold sides, but it didn't bother me enough to say anything. I only got one bite of the scallops, but they tasted great to me.

    Dessert was baked alaska, which was also delicious and one of the cooler looking desserts I've ever seen. Someone needs to go and get a picture of this thing. Similar to the other McClain restaurants there is a nice selection of tea. I went with the Monkey Picked tea (how could I resist)? The kitchen also sent out a plate with a slice of banana and a couple of truffles for my birthday, a very nice touch.

    Custom House has been categorized as McClain's "steakhouse", which may or may not be a fair description. The menu is in the style of a steakhouse, with selections of raw/cold seafood for appetizers along with soups and salads. Main courses are mostly meats (roasted or braised) with a few fish dishes. But everything is stepped up a couple of notches from your basic steakhouse. Those who aren't meat fans certainly aren't left out in the cold, with only plain old boring pieces of salmon and/or tuna. Custom House still has something for everyone, and is certainly firing on all cylinders.
  • Post #15 - February 13th, 2006, 10:57 am
    Post #15 - February 13th, 2006, 10:57 am Post #15 - February 13th, 2006, 10:57 am
    I dined at Custom House last night with two companions. I agree with jesteinf that it is in the "style" of a steakhouse, unless you solely define "steakhouse" as a place that serves primarily meat. Custom House does teeter on inviting the inevitable comparisons to a classic Chicago steakhouse to be drawn because (1) it serves its entrees a la carte, with sides that are potato-heavy and (2) they offer three classic versions of steak on this relatively small menu, one of which is advertised as "dry-aged."

    However, that's where I think the comparisons to a regular steakhouse have to end. It departs from the clubby, wood-paneled classic steakhouse interior. Custom House is sleek, but not overly so, with white tablecloths, neutral hues, well-spaced tables and a low conversational din. I would say that the trendiest this restaurant gets are the tables in the bar area that have adjacent, eye-level LCDs playing movies. Furthermore, unlike a regular steakhouse, the menu does not focus exclusively on various cuts of steaks or roasted meats with the occasional lobster tail. Custom House's entrees are comprised of 1/3 braised dishes like veal cheeks and 1/3 fish/seafood and only the remaining third dedicated to more classic steaks. The assortment of steaks were limited to a sirloin, rib-eye and a dry-aged NY strip. The starters depart from the norm with offerings like veal sweetbreads and soups which are way more complex and delicate than say, a cream of mushroom soup. The sides have their share of potatoes, but again, these are "kicked up a notch" -- fingerlings with white truffle oil and gratin potatoes with sheep's milk. (The entrees are each garnished with some type of "side," but I think that most people will want to order at least an additional side off the a la carte menu.) The sides are adequate for 2-3 to share a few bites.

    When we arrived, the room was about 1/2 full. We were immediately ushered to our table. As we all intended to order red meat, we wanted an appropriate wine pairing. Almost immediately after my companion opened the wine list, she began snickering. It soon became apparent that the wine list was a joke - but not because there weren't plenty of respectable, even excellent offerings - but because the bulk of the menu that would pair with heavy beef dishes was above $80 per bottle. I could have found you a much more reasonably priced white, but unless I'm having fish, it didn't do me much good. In fact, there were many reds on the regular wine list that exceeded $100. I mean, come on - I think even Charlie Trotter's makes more of an effort to have reasonably priced bottles on his list, even taking into account markup. It became even funnier when we asked for a recommendations in the $60-75 range, and the very friendly and capable server, limited by the prices he didn't set, could recommend only about 2 of the 3 bottles in that range. The bottle we settled on (about $77) was fine, very nice, in fact, but we paid for it.

    The food. I started with a mushroom soup which consisted mainly of an Asian-inflected mushroom broth - complex, rich and delicious. Someone else at my table ordered the spinach salad. She liked it. For an entree, I had the braised short rib, which came with horseradish cream puffs. My dining companions each had the rib-eye and the dry-aged NY strip. The NY strip was garnished with "cream spinach" which consisted of a small creamer-sized cup of what appeared to be a very creamy cream of spinach soup, which you sipped. Nice touch. Nobody had an issue with the portion size, unless, of course, you're comparing it so the Fred Flintstone-sized steaks at a classic steakhouse. In fact, my short rib was huge, and it was, well, braised. The meat was tender, fall-off-the-bone, and had that particular short rib taste, but that was about all. The horseradish puffs were interesting, but the horseradish taste could have ratcheted up. My friend complained that there was no tang to the dry-aged beef, which caused her to wonder how long it had been dry-aged - a day? 3 hours? At the risk of sounding cynical, I think that any amount of dry-aging time would allow the restaurant to advertise it as such as well as to charge the premium that dry-aged meat merits. But she immensely enjoyed the cream spinach. (Nobody's steak was served in a fanned-out fashion.)

    For sides, we settled on the truffled fingerlings, which were good, kind of lemony, and the salsify - that was interesting. Very intense vanilla and orange flavor. If salsify was the main ingredient on an Iron Chef episode, this version of salsify could have been the dessert and even satisfied Jeffrey Steingarten. It was a bit of a shock to the palate, though, against all the savory flavors presented by the entrees. Because neither of us came close to finishing our entrees, we skipped dessert.

    Service was impeccable, extremely knowledgeable, approachable and professional. I really wish they would vary the pricing on the wine list. In its current state, this restaurant becomes too much of a special occasion place. Furthermore, they're not doing anything so different with meat that would make it the first place to come to mind should you desire that. But my meal was good, even excellent at times, although there was nothing earth-shattering about the experience. In fact, if I have a hankering for short rib, I'm more likely to go to West Town Tavern and have the pot roast - smaller portion, yes, but it is perfectly paired with a nice sweet vinegar sauce and is about $12 less.
  • Post #16 - February 13th, 2006, 1:07 pm
    Post #16 - February 13th, 2006, 1:07 pm Post #16 - February 13th, 2006, 1:07 pm
    I would agree with you about the wine list. It did strike me as pretty pricey. We had actually "overindulged" a bit the night before so we just did a couple of glasses. I ordered the GF a glass of chablis, while I had a nice bordeaux. I think they were both around $9-$11 for a glass.
  • Post #17 - February 13th, 2006, 1:46 pm
    Post #17 - February 13th, 2006, 1:46 pm Post #17 - February 13th, 2006, 1:46 pm
    I think by the glass is the way to go. The glass options allow you to pair per course and aren't terribly expensive.
  • Post #18 - February 15th, 2006, 9:18 am
    Post #18 - February 15th, 2006, 9:18 am Post #18 - February 15th, 2006, 9:18 am
    Three of us went to The Custom House on a Saturday night very late January.

    The worst aspect: NOISE - not unusual, but another 3-star type restaurant with very little carpet and stark bare walls which just echo noise like mad.

    The noise varied a bit from time to time, and finally did get a bit better, who knows why. I couldn't identify a particular loud party.

    As for the wine list: Both wine drinkers decided to get the veal cheeks and asked for a wine pairing recommendation, explaining styles of wine we like. Our server went off and checked with the sommelier and came back with two reasonably priced recommendations, we went with a very nice Carmenere for $54.

    The best dish: The quail appetizer. Four perfectly roasted quail thigh/leg pieces. Well, I really do adore quail.

    Other appetizers sampled:

    Fois Gras: Interesting, quite good. Perhaps better for trying if you're a bit scared of the liver aspect. They mix their fois gras with cream, nice, never had it that way before. (But personally I'd rather just have fois gras nicely seared). Still, I liked this better than the terrine at Keefer's.

    Beef tartare: My Mom loved it, I just preferred the richness of the quail and the fois gras more than the acidity of this dish. I'm no tartare expert and would probably rather eat unadorned raw steak.

    My Mom had the braised lamb and thought it was awesome. My husband and I had the veal cheeks. He loved them and really stuffed himself finishing them. To me they seemed more like beef cheeks, maybe they were prepared with a beef broth to give that flavor. I took half mine home.

    Sides: We tried the salsify which was indeed like a lovely dreamsicle, but we probably should have skipped it with our dishes - I think they recommended it with more proper pairings. We also had some kind of short rib ravioli which was great, and probably part of the too much food problem.

    For dessert they had Baked Alaska and I had the "Banana Cream Pie". They loved their Baked Alaskas. I liked my banana dessert even more but it sure wasn't a pie by a LONG stretch. It was an excellent banana cake. Really intense flavor.

    Tab for 2 Tanqueray's, 1 bottle of wine, 2 sides, three each of appetizer, entree, dessert, 1 coffee: $261.29. Prices seem right in line for similar nice tbree-star like places.

    Portion size - not at all light. Maybe it's just because I ate more of the quail and fois gras than they did, but if I had finished my veal cheeks I would have been uncomfortable and never been able to have dessert. My husband was uncomfortably full, not sure about Mom. Not skimpy portions.

    By the way, I'm not 100% sure why, but my Mom, who is 59 years old, thought "This is just the kind of place I've been wanting to go to". I guess more so than Naha, Crofton on Wells, Keefer's. She was quite excited about the menu.

    Nancy
  • Post #19 - May 31st, 2006, 11:02 pm
    Post #19 - May 31st, 2006, 11:02 pm Post #19 - May 31st, 2006, 11:02 pm
    I finally got over to Custom House tonight. Maybe this is the Zinfandel and Prosecco talking, but it was a phenomenal dinner. Lately I have been uninspired or just contented by the great restaurants, but tonight I had some inspired fare.

    There's no substitute for eating at the height of spring bounty at the hands of a good chef. By that I mean Chef de Cuisine Richard Camarota, and not our esteemed James Beard winning Chef McClain who was in residence at Spring tonight.

    The highlight was crispy sweetbreads with glazed bacon, sweet white polenta, and slightly acidic shitake mushrooms. It covered the entire palate. Each bite appealed to the whole tongue, including a great umami buzz with the full mouthfeel from the smooth bodied polenta. Now that Foie is contraband, long live the legality of veal thymus!

    That being said, when Foie is on the menu, it must be ordered in the short window left, and the Foie Brulee with Macadamia and dried fig compote was also great. The brioche served for dipping was some of the best I have had in years. There was a spice running through it, that I couldn't quite get my palate around, but it lended an interesting note that is otherwise missing from what is usually glorified french toast.

    Indeed, it was bacon night for me. My entree was the Swan Creek Farm braised rabbit with english peas, house smoked bacon, and green garlic. The broth was rich, the green garlic was subtle, and the peas were little bites of spring.
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    http://www.michaelnagrant.com
  • Post #20 - June 1st, 2006, 9:31 am
    Post #20 - June 1st, 2006, 9:31 am Post #20 - June 1st, 2006, 9:31 am
    i was there last p.m. as well. i'd say good to very good. not excellent though. i agree that the sweetbreads were a highlight, although there was a sour vinegar note in the polenta i didn't care for. i believe it was balsamic in the polenta, not the shiitakes. braised veal cheeks were very good, the short rib not quite as, and the ribeye was very nice, but in all fairness, how do you not do that well? the rabbit 2 ways was excellent as were the braised greens (chard). that was done very nicely w/the stems done separately from the greens. nice texturally and visually. the foie i didn't care for @ all, and i love foie. didn't care for it creamed ala brulee style w/caramelized sugar over the top. the roasted octopus was very nice though, as were the scallops.

    knowing what the wholesale prices are, the wines are overpriced. we paid $110 for a shea vineyard pinot that sells for around $30-32. after the meal the dessert wines by the glass were similarly overpriced.

    service and dessert were decent, not fantastic. mini cupcakes that were dry and a rhubarb upside-down cake that was fair. the ginger ice cream that accompanied it was excellent but only a sm scoop( i.e. aprox 1 teaspoon) @ $10. as one of the last impression i'd say underwhelmed @ best.

    dinner for 5 that we all shared came to around $675 w/2 bottles of the shea pinot. we also didn't care for the fact that they added an 18% gratuity for a table of 5. they shot themselves in the foot there, we're all in the industry and we'd have normally given @ least 20%, but we felt it was a bit presumptuous. it wasn't an overly large or burdensome table, nor are we tourists that may not know better.

    i'll also say that we had no probs scoring a reservation the day before, which is how we ended up there in the first place as our other choices (schwa and david burkes primehouse) were booked well in advance and couldn't accommodate our party until mid june.

    i'd say good, not great. i'd also say i won't be running back anytime soon. to many other places i'm interested in trying. @ that price, i've got to be more impressed then we were. me, i generally look @ a bill total and just decide was it worth it? yes or no? i'd say it really wasn't.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #21 - August 16th, 2006, 8:55 pm
    Post #21 - August 16th, 2006, 8:55 pm Post #21 - August 16th, 2006, 8:55 pm
    I finally made it to Custom House tonight with my parents. Overall, I thought the food was decent but overpriced and I don't think I'll return.

    When we were seated, we were originally shown a booth and before I could even sit down in the booth, I realized that the 6:30 pm sun was blinding me -- the thin white curtains were not blocking it out. I was quite annoyed that the hostess would even have attempted to put us in the booth, but oh well -- I asked for another table and we were immediately given one.

    The meal starts off with some unremarkable bread and butter. I'd say skip it.

    I have spent days getting excited about this meal and could not wait to try the foie gras brulee. It was good, not great. A few too many nuts and not enough fig compote were a small issue. The bigger issue is that I had a foie gras creme brulee from Chef David of NoMi at the Food & Wine Magazine event and the overall taste was far superior.

    My mom had the heirloom tomato salad that was served with the most perfectly ripe tomatoes (the Green Zebras were my favorite) and some pillowy mozzarella. Fantastic!

    My dad's corn soup was fine but lacked the intense corn flavor you would expect. Too much cream perhaps.

    My short rib main course was very good. Flavorful and nicely textured -- the crispy edges and the very tender meat. The horseradish "cream puff" is better described as a beignet and was tasty, although it could stand some more horseradish flavor.

    My dad had the bone-in monkfish with eggplant, smoked tomato and house-made bacon. The fish was cooked perfectly and the dish was very flavorful with a nice smokey essence, but it was over-salted.

    My mom ordered the bone-in ribeye with the red onion tarte tatin. The ribeye was ok, but nothing special in terms of flavor. Much worse, my mom ordered it medium rare and it was delivered medium. It was about $40 if I recall correctly and worth maybe half that price.

    For sides, we had the patty pan squash (delicious) and the truffled roasted fingerling potatoes (too soft and greasy, but flavorful).

    Dessert was a ripoff. Sorry but there's no way to tone this down. Buttermilk donuts with blackberries, white nectarines and creme fraiche. There were 2 average sized donuts and 2 donut holes, several blackberries, the tiniest bite of white nectarine and the smallest (and hardly noticeable) dab of creme fraiche. Decent taste . . . but $10? Quite insulting. The kickin' donuts at DB's Primehouse are a much larger portion, tastier and $2 less.

    Finally, perhaps the most minor complaint, but the waiter kept speaking directly to my dad and me by asking us "what would we like" or "what will you have," but he would then ask my mom directly "what will the lady have" or "would the lady like anything else." Is it me or is that just bizarre? Seemed more appropriate for Buckingham Palace. :lol:
  • Post #22 - August 31st, 2006, 1:30 am
    Post #22 - August 31st, 2006, 1:30 am Post #22 - August 31st, 2006, 1:30 am
    I probably shouldn't let folks in on the secret, but the real steal is their 'vegetarian sampler' - 4 or 5 non-meat sides (including one that wasn't on the menu) for $18. I had a quite enjoyable duck entree, but I was jealous of my girlfriend and her spread of yummy 'sides'. I got an extra side or two, and we both took home enough for very nice 'brown bag' lunches a day or two later.

    All together that birthday dinner back in March '06 came to about $100 a person, but we both enjoyed it very much and plan on going back. (we don't do $100 a head dinners often, so it may not be until my birthday in '07!)
  • Post #23 - January 11th, 2007, 7:14 pm
    Post #23 - January 11th, 2007, 7:14 pm Post #23 - January 11th, 2007, 7:14 pm
    I saw that this thread hadn't had any updates since August, so I thought I'd share my recent Custom House experience.

    Two of us dined there last night, and I'd say it was solid--with some great hightlights--but didn't blow us away.

    We started with the quail and the carpacchio (which has replaced the tartare). These were both excellent dishes--possibly the highlight of the meal. I ordered the quail, and thought it was perfect...a crispy, carmelized skin, succulent meat, and conveniently cut into 4 pieces that could be picked up or cut with fork & knife. I sucked the meat off the bones.

    My friend had the carpaccio, and we both liked it. I don't eat a lot of carpaccio, but I'm used to seeing long and/or large slices of meat. This carpaccio featured 9 round pieces of meat, each the size of a Oreo. The description isn't posted on their website--and I don't remember how it was described on the menu--but it tasted to me as if it had been slightly cured. Probably a non-traditional version, but it was very tasty!

    I ordered the diver scallops for my entree, and my reaction was "eh." Good, but not great. It isn't a huge dish, and I didn't finish it. It includes a squash puree, browned butter and pumpkin seeds, and I felt as if it was oversalted.

    My friend had the duck breast, which was solid, though a little chewy (he ordered it medium rare) for my tastes.

    For sides, we got the brussel sprouts with homemade bacon and pommes Anna with pancetta (sort of like a galette). I love brussel sprouts and these were great (pan roasted). I'm not a huge potato fan, but I also loved the pommes Anna--I suspect there's a good deal of butter used in making this dish. Our waiter mentioned that they cure many of their meats, and based on what we tried, they're great, but pungent. I knocked dropped a few pieces of bacon/pancetta on the tablecloth while helping myself to sides, and even after the table was cleared of crumbs, I could still smell the pancetta and bacon.

    For dessert, we shared the warm toffee apple cake, which was delicious, and a new dessert--added just this week--of fried coconut ice cream. The waiter recommended the ice cream--I wouldn't have necessarily picked it off of the menu--and we both thought it was lousy. It's a dish that needs work, and when the waiter asked, I told him that.

    One service flubs. Our espressos were just wrong (half a espresso glass, weak, no crema). We mentioned it to the waiter, who did remake them correctly. He said they had a new machine, and the "obvious" espresso setting produced something that looked like what we were initially served, but he played with it and finally produced a decent glass of espresso. The busboy brought us our original espressos, but IMHO if you're responsible for making a dish/drink, you should know what it's supposed to look like...don't just mindlessly serve it. (To his credit, our busboy was otherwise very attentive and friendly without being obtrusive.) And our waiter did comp us the espressos and coconut ice cream dessert.
  • Post #24 - January 12th, 2007, 3:27 pm
    Post #24 - January 12th, 2007, 3:27 pm Post #24 - January 12th, 2007, 3:27 pm
    After a string of disappointing New Year's Eve experiences in Chicago, we tried CH this year. The verdict: we're likely to go back. Ambience (full house with live music at the bar) was very pleasant, neither too raucous nor too subdued; service was impeccable (as it usually is for us at CH); and altho not every course on the special menu was memorable, there were some real standouts, in particular, risotto with blue cheese and truffle oil and a stuffed breast of pheasant main course, both of which would be on my top 10 list for 2006. All in all a very pleasant experience for what can often be an iffy evening for dining out.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #25 - May 13th, 2007, 9:16 pm
    Post #25 - May 13th, 2007, 9:16 pm Post #25 - May 13th, 2007, 9:16 pm
    Going there for belated Mother's Day dinner tomorrow night. Anyone been recently and can comment on the food? Good/poor choices on the menu? Thanks!
  • Post #26 - July 3rd, 2008, 12:54 pm
    Post #26 - July 3rd, 2008, 12:54 pm Post #26 - July 3rd, 2008, 12:54 pm
    I went to Custom House for lunch Tuesday at 1 o’clock. This is the third time I have been to Custom House in the past year and the experience was forgettable. We had the scallops w peas, mint and mascarpone ravioli, the Tuna starter, and the crab cake starter. The food was just ok, the restaurant was empty, the waiter seemed confused about the menu. I was excited to go and I was disappointed. I should have ordered the hanger steak and duck fat fries. It seems to me that Custom House has peaked and is in decline ................. it may just have been the timing and the late lunch factor but Im not going back anytime soon.

    Custom House is at 500 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago




    GLOCK
  • Post #27 - January 27th, 2010, 4:57 pm
    Post #27 - January 27th, 2010, 4:57 pm Post #27 - January 27th, 2010, 4:57 pm
    I know that the other thread is alive and kicking, but I felt this was a better location for this....


    From TimeOut Chicago wrote:Things you should know about the new Custom House

    Shawn McClain is not involved. You probably knew that already, but it’s worth repeating. “[Shawn] has a different sense of what he wants to accomplish as a chef,” Kim-Drohomyrecky says. “So we started philosophically parting ways there.”



    This is the first I had heard about this, so I thought that it was worth adding to the thread.

    Complete article.

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole
  • Post #28 - January 27th, 2010, 5:01 pm
    Post #28 - January 27th, 2010, 5:01 pm Post #28 - January 27th, 2010, 5:01 pm
    I guess it is worth adding this too:

    In the above quote it says "You probably knew that already", that was originally a link point to this article.

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole
  • Post #29 - January 27th, 2010, 5:21 pm
    Post #29 - January 27th, 2010, 5:21 pm Post #29 - January 27th, 2010, 5:21 pm
    headcase wrote:I know that the other thread is alive and kicking, but I felt this was a better location for this....

    Why do you think this is a better location to post, since the other thread is very up to date and this one is not?

    Just askin'... :?
  • Post #30 - January 27th, 2010, 6:22 pm
    Post #30 - January 27th, 2010, 6:22 pm Post #30 - January 27th, 2010, 6:22 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:
    headcase wrote:I know that the other thread is alive and kicking, but I felt this was a better location for this....

    Why do you think this is a better location to post, since the other thread is very up to date and this one is not?

    Just askin'... :?


    Because the mods are trying to consolidate this kind of information in the actual restaurant threads, not in some thread about a lunch deal that probably should have been here in the first place.

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more