>Sprout Restaurant – Chicago
My partner and I made New Year’s Eve reservations at the restaurant where Bravo’s Top Chef runner up Dale Levitsky was making his new home (Sara Nguyen too…sorry…I bet she’s tired of everyone forgetting she made it on the show too). We were excited for the ten course menu and decided to make a weekend out of the event.
We knew there would be a waiting list so we called early to make our reservation. Low and behold it was Dale himself who answered the phone. While wondering why the celebrity chef was answering the phones he made light about it being a small place and that he was in the office to do some ordering anyway. A week before our reservation I called again to ask when the anticipated menu was going to be put online…and again it was Dale answering the call himself. We chit chatted a little about the meal and that was that. Or so I thought. Well…calling four hours before to confirm our New Years Eve reservation we were told we were not on the list and that they were sold out.
“Uh…but I spoke with Dale about it TWICE” I said…”We came into town just for this meal” I pleaded…”It’s bloody New Year’s Eve and the only place that can take us on short notice is Wendy’s” I cried into the phone.
Nothing…they had nothing left…not even a spare table in the restroom and they apologized.
Honestly, I felt like someone had just punched me in the gut. I get so excited about the anticipation of a great meal…getting prepared to go out, the cocktails beforehand and filling an evening with beautiful things…and now…I was all dressed up, its was New Year’s Eve, and I could care less. We decided to make the best of it (knowing I was going to RIP Sprout a new one in this blog) and we made reservations at our standard sushi place.
Then the phone rang.
It was the Maitre’ D at Sprout. He had called the restaurant owners and they wanted to give us their table for the evening. There was champagne waiting for us and they wondered if we needed a taxi. I cried. This was EXACTLY how it should have been handled. BRAVO SPROUT!
Arriving at the restaurant I was sure we were at the wrong place. The dull exterior and large cheap-looking sign looked like the place was a wholesale rubber mat distributor or maybe a place that sold billiard tables to bars. The large bar and warm bistro color palette was on the right track but everything seemed pieced together without any specific point of view…but…it was clean and warm and we had a reservation.
Sparkling Riesling with blood orange bitters with a spoonful of cane sugar greeted us at the door and our table held our first course;
Caviar infused with peppermint, sliced pear and crushed macadamia nuts.
2008 Independent Producers Chardonnay.
Foie Gras with currents soaked in Ximenex with parsnips.
Fume Blanc from Ferrari Carano.
(my favorite course of the evening)
Sablefish with geoduck, cucumber and potato with french spices.
Coteux D’Aix en Provence, Blanco from Mas de Gourgonneier.
(the fish was prepared perfectly)
Pheasant and lamb with brussel sprouts, apricots and steamed salsify oyster plant.
Negre Samso from Clos de Noi Negre.
(I anticipated this one the most and was underwhelmed)
with a nice Muscat
Truffle infused short ribs with mushrooms, radichio and shaved manchego.
Lodi “Old Vines” Zinfandel from Klinker Brick.
(finger licking good)
Cabernet Franc from Lang & Reed.
(too drunk to remember)
Pineapple and golden beets layered with goat cheese with ginger and chocolate.
(my second favorite course of the evening…way to go Sara)
Selection of Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Violet Truffles.
The meal was followed by the two chefs coming out to thank and welcome everyone to the new year. The small space was packed and they spoke as if we were all invited friends sitting in their living room…cozy, warm and full. I’ll be back … probably in the middle of the week for no particular reason and nothing to celebrate except great food and great service.