Tag Archives: French cuisine

Chez Moi – a remarkable French restaurant in Chicago

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Country French with be-feathered crystal chandeliers
Country French with be-feathered crystal chandeliers

Okay, I have not tried every French restaurant in Chicago yet. But people have been asking me for years what’s my favorite restaurant in Chicago and, up ’til, now I’ve not been able to name a specific place. Have had many, many pleasant experiences, some exceptional (hello, Chef Lee Wolen and Boka). But last Saturday my friend and I were both overawed with the food, the ambiance and the service at Chez Moi, 2100 N. Halsted.

If this meal was indicative, Chef Dominique Tougne is doing an extraordinary job of bringing authentic French cuisine to our city. Friend and I both felt we might easily have been in a small bistro in or outside Paris, soaking in the candlelit warmth, the darkly dramatic artwork on the walls, and the feather-encrusted crystal-drop chandeliers. The dark-and-thick-crusted bread with butter was good – and hard not to eat more of. But we knew we were truly in the presence of French food artistry when we tasted the first dish – Black Truffle Quiche.

Quiche. Okay, you’re probably thinking heavy egg-cream concoction baked atop a heavy pastry crust with maybe some bacon and cheese in it. But that is decidedly not what you get from Chef Dominique. This dish is an ethereally light custard, kissed with seared foie gras and set snugly in a feather-light pastry crust that almost melts into and becomes part of the custard. Topped with a tiny nest of greens, and surrounded by a puddle of rich port wine reduction, this quiche will take you into a realm quite beyond the ordinary. And it was rich enough for us to share and feel content.

The Qualidou, said to be “either a larger appetizer or a smaller entree” size, combined half a confit quail, thinly sliced seared duck breast and foie gras, accompanied by thinly sliced sauteed mushrooms, all in a generous pool of concentrated wine sauce. With all these intense flavors, we had no trouble splitting this and feeling satisfied. And I love the fact that they give you a spoon with every dish that has a sauce. Let us respect – and savor – the sauce!!

When the onion tart appetizer arrived, we were surprised at its size – generous enough for 3 people. And, oh the pastry crust! Flaky and layered richly with butter, it made a fabulous base for a nice combination of onion, bacon and creme fraiche.

Our server explained that the Gateau Breton de Solidou is a shortbread cake. Well, who knew? This incredible dessert had tender crustiness and richness in equal measure. The butter flavor was extravagant. The sauce was heavenly, and the vanilla ice cream (house made) made the combination exquisite.  Could eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner and need nothing else.

Chez Moi offers a small but obviously carefully curated list of beers, cocktails, liqueurs, and French wines. The by-the-bottle listings yielded several options under $50. We selected the French Malbec and, after it breathed for a few minutes, it made a nice pairing with our meal.

Chef offers a prix fixe menu selection all week, Sunday through Thursday – three courses include a salad, then your choice of entree (hanger steak, roast chicken, seared salmon or roasted vegetables) and tiramisu for dessert. Check out the rest of the menus here. We cannot wait to come back again. In fact, this place is tempting me to eat out much more often than I usually do. Exceptional experience. Will let you know if next visits measure up.

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a la carte Chicago highlights French food and drink

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English: From top left: Downtown Chicago, the ...
English: From top left: Downtown Chicago, the Willis Tower, the Chicago Theater, the Chicago “L”, Navy Pier, the Field Museum, and Millenium Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago loves French cooking, and during the week of November 9-19, a bunch of French restaurants are inviting Chicagoans to sample the French table with prix-fixe menus for $33 or $44. Like Restaurant Week, this festival, called a la carte Chicago, gives you a chance to try a restaurant’s offerings at a reduced price—a great way to expand your culinary horizons.

Chicago French restaurants and associations teamed up to create this festival of menus, tastings and events around town. It will showcase the best efforts of chefs, bakers and wine-and-spirits experts all over the city. Check here for more information and a complete list of participating restaurants and other venues.

A la carte Chicago also gives you chances to go behind the scenes. Hone your culinary skills with cooking workshops—say, how a French chef does hamburger! Follow a French Chef throughout the day and experience the life of a master at work. Discover new cookbooks at special events. Indulge in an Oscar-winning French film. Share a lunch with the Consul General of France.

The final event of a la carte Chicago will be the 31st annual Passport to France—basically a huge party where you get to savor specialties from more than 50 local chefs and vendors. Get the word out to your friends:

Twitter: @alacarteChicago   #alacarteChi
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlacarteChicago 
Instagram: @alacarteChicago

Partners include: Bistronomic, Chez Moi, Shaw’s Crab House, Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, Kendall College, French Pastry School, Viktorija Todorovska, Sommelier and Author of Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living, Consulat General de France a Chicago, French-American Chamber of Commerce Chicago, Alliance Francaise de Chicago, Business France, Kendall College, and Watel / Davis.

Bon appetit!

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