Hiding behind the corner is a place with no sign. Eat, Sleep and Whisky written on the wall... Black ambiance, as if you're hidden behind the walls. Inside is a very dimmed place with a bar, another dining space and a room where people gather for a drinks, a space that looks like a cantina.
It's called Longman & Eagle, and it's a famous restaurant, some say they have some of the best food in the capital, and they've got a Michelin Star.
A Michelin Star restaurant known for their big whisky collection, tasty beers and easy-going fine dining where the food is actually really good in a simple ambiance. Tonight we were having dinner with Fadi, a fan of NGNO who contacted me on Facebook for a meetup.
Rugged wood, metal and stones, candles and black paint, it's kind of an American pub with an open kitchen, fresh smells, a parquet floor and bricks. The other room is painted white creating a brighter feel to the space. What a beautiful bar with hundreds of back lit whisky bottles, an old cash register and a mirror. A beautiful place.
It's surely unique, I've never been to a Michelin starred restaurant that looked that casual... I was so excited to try their food.
I loved the menu: A paper menu with small plates, bar snacks and entrees. The place is famous for its tartare and bone marrow, as well as the pork tenderloin... I wished I could order everything. Long names that build excitement as you read them. Premium ingredients researched meticulously.
We were welcomed by a hostess and had to wait for 15 minutes to be seated. We continued down to the bar for a beer before coming back to one of the best tables next to the bar in the heart of the main dining area and facing the kitchen.
The waiter approached us; my friend tells me he has been here for ages reciting the menu and works by the book. He smiles a bit, adds some fun and recommendations.
It started with an amuse bouche. Pork rillette with a cornichon or a pickled cucumber sliced in thin layers. A pâté-like mashed pork meat that has a certain finesse to it and the crunch, all served on a spoon.
Good to know:
- The dishes' names seem complicated, but they're not when you see them, the flavor is.
- It's good to share, so the plates are small for this purpose.
- Prepare to be blown away by the great food they serve.
Let the fun begin:
Small platters, that aren't too small:
- Beef tartare with a foie gras torchon, medjool dates, Kluge Farms peaches, mustard greens, buttered challah and truffle gribiche. Complex flavors of amazement, extraordinary mixes of pleasure, meat that's so juicy and tender with crumbs and sweet hidden notes... Oh my sweet Lord! It's just perfect and unlike any tartare I've ever had. The brioche is not to be missed, airy and freshly aromatized. That's where the Star came from, for sure.
- Slagel Family Farms bone marrow, bacon shallot jam, green apple kimchi, pickled garlic and shallots, parsley and sourdough toast. It melted as I laid it down on my tongue. That's serious stuff. It's like a fine dining extravaganza in a pub, a moist and melting bone marrow with a hint of sweetness at the end and crunchy vegetables... I traveled to wonderland and back.
The plates and cutlery were changed in anticipation of the next round.
- Braised pork cheek, sour cabbage, sea island red peas, pickled mustard seed, green apple, Chinese mustard caramel, beer foam. It's a beautiful looking plate decorated with greenery and beer foam, a chunk of meat that's extremely tender, like pulled braised sheep, al dente cooked peas and the others mixes of sweetness and spices. It leaves a long lasting after note in the mouth called enjoyment.
- Duck in a jar, duck pastrami, duck confit, duck heart, rice beans, potatoes, Kluge Farms raspberries, duck blood foie gras juice. Five long minutes, there was this long lasting after taste that stayed and stayed while I picked another bite. A fine level of professionalism in this jar that's all duck, salty but enjoyable, juicy and rich. The flavor profile cannot be easily described. It's my favorite until now and a plate that surely can win awards. And comes the raspberry that explodes with juiciness. Now I understand the Star.
- Berkshire pork tenderloin, seared foie gras, pork shank braised beans, butternut squash cardamom purée, Serrano chilies, maple banyuls gastrique. Simplicity defined on a beautiful plate filled with tender pork slices and hard textured beans.
- Fried chicken roulade, duck fat biscuits, high life apples, capillini onions, waffle purée, honey espuma, cayenne maple chicken jus. Good but not breathtaking. A rectangular plate with roulades of chicken, some spongy fried puree balls and the sweet cream. Very generous and tasty.
- Slagel Family Farms burger, Wildmer's cheddar, North Country bacon, a homemade sesame seed bun, beef fat fries. Black fries, a black bun and a burger, a premium meat, burning after notes, a bun covered with sesame and a premium quality meat. It's a gourmet burger that would need some juiciness and a bit more taste to be unique like the rest of the food, but one can't deny that it is good.
A great dinner should be crowned by a dessert and I'm sure theirs is awesome.
Fadi, my friend from Chicago who suggested this restaurant, chose the Praline Pecan Terrine, caramel and bourbon, espresso, honey foam, chocolate oil, whipped molasses, malted ice cream, molasses syrup, chocolate powder. A praline cake, a honey comb, the ice cream, the espresso touch and the molasses... These ingredients combined together are a masterpiece. That's a master chef indeed.
In Chicago, I think I have a favorite. A place that combines a pleasant ambiance, good music, positive vibes and amazing food. A Michelin Starred restaurant that's so different from any I've been to before. It is wonderful and I surely recommend it.