Dinner at Baptiste & Bottle at Conrad Chicago (Chicago, IL)
I’m back in Chicago for a couple of days (started last week, if you’re following me on Instagram) and I can’t believe it’s been five years since I’ve been to this beautiful city! Not to mention, the food scene was and is great here. It always feel like a short visit whenever I’m in town and I have yet to explore and taste the diverse ethnic foods of this city (shame on me) but there is always a next time.
To start things off on a classy note, my friend and I had dinner at a new restaurant that opened a few months ago at Baptiste & Bottle.
Baptiste & Bottle on the 20th floor of the Conrad Chicago is a beautiful restaurant by chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval (if you’re familiar with Zengo or Pampano in New York City, he’s specializes in Latin fare) but with a focus on whisky and a take on American Southern cuisine by executive chef James Lintelmann.
Once we stepped through the entrance, there is a medium-length marble table with a stunning view of downtown Chicago and a long handsome bar not too far from it.
we ordered our first round of drinks – A Curtsy and A Bow, made table side and a Rootbeer Fizz. The former was quite a display with the mesmerizing tonka bean fog (it’s created by dry ice, a tonka bean that has warm, vanilla aromas, and water) pouring out from the carafe that sits below the whiskey. oregat and a dash of absinthe drink. My rootbeer fizz was dangerous that it has booze but you don’t taste it and it certainly tastes like a really good root beer. Eventually, my friend got one of the classics, Boulevardier, once he finished A Curtsy and A Bow.
An amuse bouche plate of breakfast radishes with a side of pimento cheese feels like an apt Southern tongue-in-cheek idea of the classic French side of radishes and butter and it was very good.
Chef Lintelmann sent out the seasonal crudo (during the time we dined, it was madai) with charred scallion, plum, radish, and lime. It was delicious. All the flavors were balanced (smoky, bitter, delicately onion-y, and sweet) yet distinct even though the thought of charred scallions made me wonder if it’s overwhelming but it proved me wrong. The cheddar chive biscuit was a very good biscuit that has buttery layers and it has the fluffy crumb. The honey butter elevated the eating experience and it made it hard for us to stop eating more of the biscuit.
Our plate of day boat scallops, brown butter, sunchoke, pear was very tasty. The delicate sweetness of the scallop, brown butter sauce, and pear was harmonious. The gentle crunch of the sunchoke chips added some needed texture.
The spátzle was probably one of our favorite dishes of the evening. The noodles were cooked nicely and the silkiness of the soft poached egg, duck confit, and mushrooms made it enticing to eat. The mushrooms’ flavors resound in this dish and we adored it.
Though feeling quite full we still had the roast Pekin duck breast with persimmon, celery root, and gooseberry. The duck cooked to a pinky medium and its fat rendered nicely, it’s still tender and juicy. The fruity flavors worked very well with the duck and liked the various textures of the just-cooked gooseberries that pop in our mouth to the crispy thin persimmon chips.
The eggplant, harissa, hazelnut and feta was a delicious side dish. Supple, smoky, silky eggplant worked well with the smoky harissa and the crunchiness of the hazelnut adds some textural interest.
We capped our meal off with the fruit ambrosia. I admit this was probably my first fruit ambrosia (my friend loves a good fruit ambrosia) and I don’t know what to compare it to exactly but it tasted good. Bright, tropical flavors of roast pineapple, coconut and rounded off with Amaro infused cherries and the cloud-light mound of whipped cream. It’s essentially a fruit salad with whipped cream on top, I suppose.
It’s a very good dining experience overall. The front of the house staff was very welcoming and attentive to us. The food was very tasty and creative. The cocktails were good. I would come back for another meal next time I come back to Chicago for an elegant, Southern accented fare.
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Baptiste & Bottle
at Conrad Chicago
101 E Erie St
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 667-6793