Chocolate Bar at The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago
A perfectly civilized way to spend a weekend...
Alaskan King Crab Poached in Cucumber Broth
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...
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