Before I start my review on the chocolate bar at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, I want to say that I am one lucky girl! I feel very fortunate to be invited to these wonderful places and to experience their amazing offerings. Apparently, writing about my life for the past two years is worth something. In other words, I am disclosing that this meal was compliments of The Peninsula Hotel.
On Friday night, I was invited by the Peninsula Hotel to try the new savory tasting menu in conjunction with their chocolate bar. Each Friday and Saturday night the chocolate bar is available from 8:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. and it is an absolutely, perfectly civilized way to spend a weekend night with your family or a date. Lots of well behaved kids with their families sitting beside couples enjoying a romantic night out.
I arrived at The Peninsula early because I had a site visit earlier that day. After my meeting, I paid a visit to the spa (I am looking for a new gym) and then waited in the bar for @nicoleyeary. While I was in the bar, a gentleman approached me with a dish. I was confused, but then the gentleman explained that Chef Curtis Duffy had sent it over from Avenues. I was speechless - both by the presentation of the Alaskan King Crab poached in cucumber broth and by the thoughtfulness. How did they even know where I was, or who I was? (sidenote, I've conversed with Chef Duffy on Twitter a couple times).
We started off in the kitchen where I met Executive Pasty Chef Celine Plano and Executive Chef Kai Lermen. Having worked in some great restaurants when I was younger, being able to visit the kitchen is always a real treat.
The chefs were a true pleasure to meet. Everyone was very kind, gracious and very inviting; explaining that the demands of working in a kitchen that operates 24 hours and allowing us to ask many questions.
Next, we were invited into the lobby lounge where we had a lovely table in close proximity to the jazz band. Of course, our table was set impeccably well, but I was surprised to see that we were having a full meal with wine pairings. Pleasantly surprised.
The Peninsula continued to add to my pleasure by starting us off with a Porcini mushroom and hazelnut cappuccino amuse bouche. The soup was served in a cappuccino cup and accompanied by a glass of Chateau Langlois Brut Champagne.
The first course, Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras was paired with Hirschbach and Sohne Piesporter Riesling Kabinett. The foie gras was a very familiar dish (I love foie and order it when I can) and a fair portion size.
The next course we were served was the Chocolate and Fennel Crusted Diver Scallops served with a potato mousseline (mashed potatoes) and a white chocolate saffron sauce. I'm not normally a fan of scallops but I did really enjoy this dish.
The final course was the Roasted Squab with Quince and Creamy Polenta served with 71% cocoa squab jus. The squab had a very distinct flavor and texture. It is a dark, firm and dry meat compared to other fowl and has a gamey taste.
Finally we were able to get up and run free through the chocolate bar. I wish I could describe all the fantastic items available but there are just far too many!
But you can expect edible cocktails including: Raspberry Truffle with creme de Yvette, creme de Caco, egg and fresh raspberry. Chocolate mousse with pistachio, chocolate fountain, a station that prepares a delicious vanilla buttered brioche and fresh raspberry sauce.
The "savory and sweet" four course menu is $68 including the Chocolate Bar. The Chocolate Bar sells for $40 without the "savory and sweet" four course menu. (These prices are exclusive of tax and tip)
Chocolate Bar Pictures
This was a favorite of mine - pistachio mousse and macaroons
-- Photos courtesy of Nicole Yeary and The Peninsula Chicago --