Monday, August 15, 2016

ROISTER (Chicago, IL)

951 West Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
Cuisine: American
$$$$ ($50+)
Reservations made at roister
Fri, 08/05/2016, 8:00pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)

Roister is Chef Grant Achatz's newest restaurant of the Alinea Group. Located in the trendy West Loop of Chicago adjacent to Next, it is Achatz's less formal and more rustic cuisine. The food is simple, robust, and a total 180 compared to Alinea.

Andrew Brochu, who has been with the Alinea group since 2005 is the executive chef of Roister. His food highlights the ingredient with a slight Alinea touch to it. Take for instance the foie gras. Instead of simply giving you a well-cooked piece of foie gras, the chef converted it into a sweet and savoury type of dessert covered with chocolate. 

The space is clean and modern. There is an open kitchen with bar seating. The windows of the dining room opened completely to the outdoors with nice Chicago weather. Downstairs, diners can sit in the prep kitchen for a unique experience. Reservations are made by purchasing tickets online with varying degrees of cost based on prix fixe or a la carte. For our night, we chose to do the kitchen counter Roister menu at $95 per person. 

The packed dining room
The kitchen
Place Setting
YUKON FRIES. Soy Dusted, Bonito Flakes, Rice Vinegar, Tofu Mayo. So this dish was good, but not amazing. The potatoes were crispy and it was well seasoned, but it was nothing special. I felt as though I've had a similar dish somewhere in my history of eating. If you're just craving potatoes, give it a try. If not, then skip it. 
KIMCHI. So this is Roister's version of kimchi. They got the pickling down and the hint of spice, but of course, they added a few flavors, ie fresno chilies and pineapple. Yes, pineapple! Who would've thought? It was definitely interesting and had some decent flavors, but it wasn't my favorite dish. I probably could've done without this one. 
HAMACHI SALAD. This was definitely a light dish. The flavors were balanced but there was something lacking with this dish that I couldn't pinpoint. The hamachi was good and the berries were fresh, but I still was a bit disappointed. 
CRAB TOAST ETOUFFEE WITH SHRIMP. This dish brings you to the South, Alinea group style. The toast was a bit soggy cause it soaked up all the sauce and flavors from the crab etouffee. The shrimp was cooked whole and your job is to suck off that shrimp head. It was good, seasoned well, had good flavor, but still, not my favorite. At this point, I was getting disappointed with all the dishes...
BOK CHOY SALAD. This dish was when I started getting happy. The bok choy was fresh and the grilled asparagus added an extra touch to the dish. It was balanced, acidic and crunchy. I thoroughly enjoyed all the textures and flavors of this dish. 
CUCUMBER AND PEA SALAD WITH CUMIN CREME FRAICHE. Whoa. So the cumin definitely was prominent on this dish. It was fresh and crisp, with a nice creamy texture with the cumin creme fraiche. I thought this was good, but not amazing. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. A5 JAPANESE WAGYU. Sea Urchin Butter, Togarashi Spices. OMG! This dish was amazing. Upon hearing that the butter was uni butter, my eyes lit up. I've had A5 Wagyu before and when it's cooked perfectly, it simply melts into your mouth in such goodness. This dish was no exception. It was unbelievable, with the uni butter giving an extra richness and flavor that was simply marvellous. I loved every bite. I was just sad there was so little amount cause I'm a greedy piglet. 
WHOLE CHICKEN AND CHAMOMILE. Braised, poached, Fried with Sunchokes. OMG. I SERIOUSLY LOVED THIS PLATE OF GOODNESS! It was hard to decide between this dish and the wagyu as the best dish, but I had to go with what melted in my mouth with bold flavors. Regardless, this was a close second. The fried chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside and super moist on the inside. It was super flavorful and well seasoned. The braised chicken was sous vide, so the chicken was super tasty and moist. The skin was crispy and tasty. As full as I was, I kept going back for me. That's how much I loved this chicken. 
This was the poached chicken and boy, was it delicious! It was made into a chicken salad. I'm not particularly a huge fan of chicken salad, but this was amazing. Super moist and divine.  
These are the two sauces that came with the chicken: one being a gravy and the other, a sunchoke sauce. The gravy was so good and my favorite out of the two. It was creamy, rich and full of deliciousness. If I could swim in it, I would. I seriously coated every bite in this scrumptious gravy. The sunchoke sauce was good as well. It was a bit lemony, acidic, and definitely cut through the richness and fat of the chicken. 
MILK AND COOKIES. This dessert was amazing. Imagine a cookie dough ice cream in its most purist form, elevated Alinea style. The milk ice cream was creamy and pure, it felt like you were drinking milk. The cookies were slightly par baked and it was delicious. Together, it was a match made in heaven. 
FOIE GRAS. Black Walnuts, Pretzel, Marshmallow. This is Roister's version of their Snicker's bar. The foie gras flavor was definitely a burst of flavor in this dessert. It was definitely good but I wish it was colder in temperature and more of a frozen ice cream dessert than simply a candy bar. I think by making it into ice cream form, it would bring it to a whole new level.
Overall, Roister is a great addition to the Alinea group. To be quite honest, I didn't enjoy the first few courses and I was beginning to feel a bit dismal at what was forthcoming with the courses. Then I received my Japanese A5 Wagyu steak and my hopes for a delicious dinner was stirring up inside me. From then on, all the dishes we received were cooked well, seasoned well and was extremely flavorful. I've heard through the grapevine that they will be removing the prix fixe menu. As long as I still am able to get the chicken and steak, I'll be a happy camper. Worth trying? Yes. 

Notable dishes: A-5 Japanese Wagyu, Whole Chicken with Chamomile and Milk and Cookies


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