Entente (Chicago, IL)
Entente is one of the few new restaurants in Chicago that I had strong, good feelings about when I’ve read preview articles on various Chicago based publications. The various reasons that made me think this restaurant would be very good or even great was knowing where the restaurant team worked previously. Chefs Brian Fisher (formerly of Schwa) and Mari Katsumura (formerly of Grace) putting their personal touches on a plate with a reputable Chicago-based restauranteur Ty Fujimura of Arami.
Despite the fact the menu reads fine dining, the restaurant is not stuffy. The people who are front of the house are not pretentious. The sommelier is as down to earth as you’d ever expect for a serious wine geek. The various waiters and waitresses working the tables were friendly too. No diner was dressed up like he or she was eating at a fancy restaurant despite the fact you are eating seriously delicious food.
How Entente’s food is served, you are having a “tasting menu” by having your dishes coursed out but it’s served family style with a portion equivalent to a three course meal or slightly larger. (Frankly, I find this a better route than what we have in many New York City restaurants, where “shared plates” portions are essentially two or three bites at best and it isn’t really that affordable either.) The menu is generally New American with global touches based on the chefs’ diverse backgrounds.
We’ve started off the meal with pumpernickel pretzel rolls with Benton’s Ham, beer cheese fondue, and pineapple. I love pretzel rolls and these were great. Benton’s ham is always delicious but what made this dish really mind blowing for me was the beer cheese fondue. The beer cheese has this fermented, tangy, complex flavors that I rarely find in any fondue and I can’t help but keep dipping my knife and schmear it on my warm roll.
My friend opted for the wine pairing for most of this meal (this one didn’t have one), while I primarily stuck with the Spicy Roots soda. This particular soda was assertive with the tumeric and ginger that there are moments when it tasted medicinal but when it’s paired with certain dishes like this beer cheese fondue, it works out very nicely. The bitterness of the tumeric softens when I have the yeasty flavors of the fondue and roll.
When you read chicken liver pâté, bourbon, orange, and Angostura, you’d probably think this is an ingredient list for an Old Fashioned cocktail (sans the chicken liver). It’s indeed that and it really surprised us that the flavors of the cocktail works great with the creamy chicken liver. The flavors of the drink takes away most of the gaminess of chicken livers and it’s a balanced dish.
The Carolina Gold rice, black truffle, duck egg and Parmigiano was a very popular dish when we were observing other tables and the unmistakable aroma of fresh shaved black truffles hit our noses whenever this dish was served. This rice dish has a texture in between risotto and congee and the flavor of that rice was incredible with its delicate sweetness and the creaminess of the starches developed from cooking. It’s the perfect comforting dish to have in a chilly Chicago night.
The final savory course is duck, forbidden rice, unagi, chrysanthemum, watermelon rind, and burdock. Perfectly cooked duck breast topped with forbidden rice crisp on top and fluffy, nutty cooked rice underneath. The sweet burdock root and unagi added some sweetness and earthiness.
To finish off this great meal, we had the beautiful profiterole and tres leches cake. The profiterole isn’t what I was generally imagining in terms of size (about the size of a tennis ball) with its gorgeous golden brown exterior with the cracked surface of the craquelin. It’s filled with a creamy pastry cream and dotted in clusters of vibrant, sour cherries, sassafras, and shiso. It’s delicious. The tres leches cake with pumpkin, hojicha, and sorghum was fine. The flavors didn’t excite me when I tried eating all the various components in one bite but I enjoyed the hojicha ice cream the most. (I felt I should have ordered the beautiful cheesecake, marshmallow dessert when our neighbor was having it. But that’s next time.)
In all, we had a great time at Entente. The sommelier, Angie was great and knowledgeable about the wines she’s paired for my friend. The food was really good. I would definitely come back here for dinner when I revisit Chicago.
For more photos, please CLICK HERE for the complete set or see below:
3056 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
Phone: (872) 206-8553