Last night’s dinner

One of the advantages of having visitors break up my hermetic existence is that I get to visit nice restaurants, including some I haven’t been to before. It’s my usual policy to never take a visitor to a restaurant I haven’t vetted before, but last night I broke the policy (my go-to bistro was closed) by dining at Ruxbin, an Asian-American fusion restaurant on the North Side of Chicago.  There are obligatory five- or three-course prix fixe menus; you choose one, and then the table chooses either three or five courses from a list to be shared (see the site for an example).

We of course opted for the five-course menu; my motto is that of A. J. Liebling: “Anyone who really likes food likes a lot of food.”

Before the formal meal, an amuse-bouche of “sushi”: a small bit of raw skate with wasabi, green apple puree, and a flower (a lot of the dishes are garnished with edible flowers). The restaurant is BYOB, so I brought a bottle of good French champagne. Note that the glass they provided was NOT a real champagne glass; you want a “flute” to conserve the bubbles, not one of these bowls on a stem:

A bread course: homemade warm sourdough rolls with a delicious unsalted butter with chives, accompanied by radishes and lettuce. The butter and rolls were fantastic:

Appetizer choices:

We chose the wedge salad, far better than any wedge salad I’ve ever had:

And the foie gras: this is half the dish (see above for the other stuff in the dish; it’s placed atop a round slice of toasted bread.

A palate cleanses: a piece of fermented cucumber (not exactly a pickle) and a glass of lentil and basmati rice soup:

Choices for the main course:

We had the fruits de mer and the duck breast, cooked “rosé”, of course. The seafood:

Close up of the seafood. The sauce was so delicious it could have been served on its own as a soup, so I asked for extra bread to sop it up:

The duck breast with the other stuff named above:

There is a choice of two desserts:

Chocolate melanges are everywhere, so we went with the black sesame baklava with black sesame/kumquat ice cream, kumquat slices, custard, raspberry, et al. Again, a fantastic course. Look at everything going on on this plate, yet the components harmonized well and each bit offered a new combination of textures and flavors:

And a gratis treat: chocolate-covered grapes with some kind of sprinkles:

It was a superb meal, well worth the price, and I love the BYOB feature since I can bring my best bottles. Although I broke my “no unknown restaurant” rule, I did so on the advice of my foodie friend Martin, who had been to Ruxbin several times and loved it. (Martin’s advice is reliable.)  Find yourself a foodie pal whose advice you can trust!

Photos by Nicole Reggia

23 Comments

  1. Posted May 1, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Oh Ceiling Cat, je dois manger maintenant !

  2. Posted May 1, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Champagne flutes are so yesterday. You do not want to conserve bubbles. You want a rounded glass–preferably a Jamesse Grande Champagne glass–to release a fine mousse.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      @darwinwins In your link the middle glass of three in the photo’ is the shape I think is best [Riedel Veritas Champagne Wine glass] – far superior to a flute in terms of getting the nose in, ease of cleaning & elegance of form

      But, at home I have NO GLASSWARE with a stem! Stemmed glass is too easily broken, unless individually hand washed & of course they just love to fall over at the slightest brush of the elbow. I use the ‘correct’ shapes for all my drinks, but I buy the ‘tumbler’ versions [no stem]

    • Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking the same thing, though I suppose if your goal is to enjoy the visuals (as opposed to the flavor), the flute makes sense.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I think this is a good example of why to not listen to the experts.

      • Posted May 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure what you mean by that. Is it that Jerry shouldn’t have listened to the experts that told him flutes are appropriate, or that darwinwins shouldn’t listen to the experts saying flutes are not appropriate? Or that both should not listen to the experts because experts change their minds? Or am I just reading way too much into your comment?

        • Posted May 2, 2017 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          On matters of taste, I don’t think anyone should defer to the “experts.” As with wine itself, with glasses I try the alternatives and choose the one I like best regardless of what the experts think. Nonetheless, I do like the Jamesse Grande Champagne glass.

  3. Wendy Smith
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    My daughter took us to Chicago Cut a couple of weeks ago. Wow!

  4. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m salivating and it isn’t even lunch time here.

    Have you or anyone reading WEIT tried any of the Chicago restaurants and eateries run by Brendan Sodikoff http://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/operations/power-20/brendan-sodikoff-201? He’s the son of a former close friend. I knew him when he was just a wee lad, and as an adult I know him to be a dynamite chef and a wonderful guy. He’s worked with top international chefs at restaurants here and in France,including Alice Waters at Chez Panisse to Alain Ducasse, and Thomas Keller.

  5. Evan Plommer
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    How true that you need to get restaurant advice from someone who sees eye to eye with you on what constitutes good food. Isn’t it disappointing when you hear that a place is FANTASTIC and it’s awful?!

  6. Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Sounds good, but I shudder at the way one would (likely) have to dress up to visit such a place …

  7. Mark R.
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    America has come a long way in the past 20-30 years when it comes to cuisine. This restaurant is a case in point. Too bad our society hasn’t become more enlightened on other fronts…like religion.

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful meal! I’m glad you enjoyed yourselves. 🙂

  9. David Duncan
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    “We of course opted for the five-course menu; my motto is that of A. J. Liebling: “Anyone who really likes food likes a lot of food.”

    Were you full at the end? I find it hard to judge the serving sizes from the photos.

    Interesting about the champagne glasses. I always wondered why they use flutes.

  10. dabertini
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Ah, the good life. Hedonism cubed. You deserve it.

  11. Nicholas K.
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I like Ruxbin quite a bit. Out of curiosity, what was your go to Bistro? Is it closed for good?

  12. Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Last night I just ate a large bag of red cheddar and caramelised onion kettle chips. I was happy.

  13. Don Mackay
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    ‘Asian-American fusion’ eh!
    More a case of gustatory appropriation
    perhaps?
    Just a thought as I make my quince jelly.

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted May 2, 2017 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Presume the nettle was thermally inactivated in some way.

  15. M&S
    Posted May 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Have you been to Alinea? If not, then I’d highly recommend for a special treat.


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