Acadia (Chicago, IL)

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Okay.  I literally sat here for twenty-three minutes, thinking of a good introduction.  I came up with nothing.  Is that called writer’s block?  If so, that’s what I just had.  But, the more I type, the more words start to come out.  Kind of like I’m doing right now. Usually I’d say something witty or clever (who cares if you don’t think I’m witty or clever) but today, you get nothing but a review of one of the best Chicago restaurants I’ve been to.  (Cats out the bag)


Acadia, an upscale American restaurant, located off of Wabash Avenue; is a Two Michelin Starred restaurant in the heart of Chicago.  The restaurant is led by Ryan McCaskey, who has over 20 years experience in the industry, and helped Acadia earn two stars within a year of its opening.  Acadia has received numerous awards, and when you decide to dine here, you’ll understand why.


The interior is beautiful, sophisticated, and elegant.  What separates them from other places I’ve been is that they provide you with “reading material” as you wait for your dishes.  Yes, a tablet is provided for you to keep up with the local news, sports, and/or general gossip.  I think that’s a great idea, because if you’re dining alone, as I was, it kind of forces you to pay attention to the real world instead of what reality star was wearing yesterday.  Although, our politics can be identified as reality televison.


During my visit, I was able to indulge in 14 courses.  Yes, you read that correctly, 14 courses.  The courses ranged from mini bites to a sophisticated dessert which had so many ingredients you wouldn’t believe it.  I’ll start off with the first four courses.

Peekytoe Crab topped with Uni and Jalapeno was my first bite of the evening.  This bite size delectable was sweet, spicy, and flavorful.  The crab meat was meaty and fresh and the uni was creamy with a hint of spicy aftertaste to it.  My only qualms about this was me asking for more, because it was that good.  (I didn’t fyi)


Herbed Liege Waffle with Honey Butter was up next.  This was the “Bread and Butter” dish, but a more innovate technique with using the sweetness of the Waffle and Honey to give you something more creative than a piece of bread.  The Honey Butter was the highlight of this, with the sweetness and saltiness that was spread on the Herb flavor of the mini waffle.


Kaluga Caviar was the third bite of the night.  It consisted of Sunchoke, Hazelnut, and Parmesan Infused Whey.  For those that are baffled as to what Whey is (like I was) its the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.  This dish can be described as a thick version of a creme fraiche with a nutty flavor that had a salty aftertaste because of the Caviar.  This was a very different but had a unique taste.


Cabbage Clam was the fourth course.  It consisted of Cabbage wrapped around a Clam, finished with an Apple, Dill, and Horseradish sauce.  The staff presented this dish where the Cabbage wrapped Clam sat alone, before they came over with a cup of the cream soup with the mentioned ingredients.  This was a slightly tangy but spicy aftertaste with the soup, but the most flavors came with the Cabbage wrapped Clam.  I can’t get over how spectacular this dish was.  Who would’ve thought to put Cabbage and Clams together?  The earthy Cabbage to go with the Ocean taste of the Clams almost made me shed a tear.  I’d go to this restaurant just to eat this dish.


Isle Au Haut Scallop was the fifth course.  It consisted of Passion Fruit and Avocado.  The presentation of this dish was brilliant.  It was presented as if it was found in somewhat of a Forrest, but surrounded by hot stones where the waiter would pour the ocean water; where they caught the scallop, to create a bit of an aroma.  The Passion Fruit wasn’t as tangy as I thought it’d be, and the Avocado flavor was missing from the dish.  However, the Scallop was buttery and cooked to perfection.  It wasn’t rubbery or gelatinous, it was cooked just right.


Enoki Mushrooms were the sixth course.  They were presented with a Chilled Mushroom-Shrimp Dashi, Pine Oil, and Pickled Kombu.  Kombu is an edible kelp, that was preserved in different ingredients over time to create a flavor that helped the after taste of the Dashi.  The Mushroom-Shrimp Dashi can be described as a Cajun Shrimp with an earthy flavor from the Mushrooms.  An excellent dish to say the least.


Stonington Lobster was the seventh course.  This was their version of a “Lobster Bisque” in my opinion.  It consisted of Daikon, Coconut Milk, and Tom Kha Bisque.  The Lobster was topped with many ingredients including what looked to be a passion fruit caviar and edible flowers.  The Bisque was sweet and flavorful.  The Lobster was “barely cooked” but a few seconds more of being cooked it would’ve turned into rubber.  As you dipped the lobster into the Bisque, it sent your taste buds on a ride you’ll never forget.  Savory, Creamy, and Buttery is how I’d describe it.


Cobia was the eighth dish.  It consisted of Kohlrabi and Squid Ink Sand.  Cobia is a marine fish.  It has a flaky texture and goes well paired with other toppings.  The earthy taste of the Kohlrabi to go with the wheat flavoring of the Squid Ink sand worked perfectly with this flaky fish.  It was also accompanied with a whipped potato with a similar flavoring to a pomme puree.


The ninth dish that was presented was the Potato.  It consisted of Brown Butter, Perigord Truffle, and Watercress.  The Mushroom flavor of the Truffle to go with the salty flavoring of the Brown Butter and the smooth texture of the Potatoes worked hand in hand.  The Watercress was missing from my taste buds, and that could’ve been because of the over-powering potato and Truffle.  It was still a great starch dish to slightly fill you up before another main course.


The tenth dish was the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu.  It consisted of Onion Soup, Quail Yolk, and Smoked Bone Marrow Bordelaise.  The Wagyu was so flavorful the other components just added complexity and melted in your mouth with each bite.  The thick Yolk was rich and balanced the saccharine flavor of the Bone Marrow Bordelaise.  The Wagyu was thick but had a buttery taste to it and was cooked at a perfect medium rare temperature.  I’d fly back just to eat this dish again.


Foie Gras was the eleventh dish of the night.  A succulent piece of gamey and gelatinous Foie Gras was pan seared to perfection.  Its salty flavor with a slightly bitter after taste was one where you have to taste for yourself.  It was presented with Mustarda, but the Foie Gras over-powered any other elements the dish included.


Dish number twelve was the beginning of my desserts.  The Beet dish.  It consisted of Coconut, Bitter Chocolate and Caradmom.  I’m not big on desserts, but this was pretty good.  The Chocolate was actually bitter as described but worked well with the sour flavor of the beets.  This was more of a bite sized dessert, because there were more to come.


Roasted Pineapple was the thirteenth dish presented for the night.  (No, I absolutely was NOT tired of eating at this point)  It consisted of Zephyr Caramel Mousse and Durian Ice Cream.  Durian has a garlic and powdered sugar taste, which wasn’t my favorite, but I was thankful for the Roasted Pineapple to offset that unwavering  garlic taste.  This wasn’t a dish I was a fan of, but I’m glad I had an opportunity to try it.


The Smoked Banana dish was the last of the night.  Dish number fourteen to be exact.  It consisted of Toasted Rye Shortbread Cookie, Mushroom Marshmallow, and Roasted Chestnut Cream.  The Mushroom Marshmallow mixed with the best Hot Chocolate you’ll ever taste in your life will have you begging for the recipe after devouring it.  The Hot Chocolate was piquant, sugary, and rich ; while the Shortbread Cookie added the perfect crunch and texture with the overall dessert.


Overall, this restaurant is a stop what you’re doing and go to.  I was thoroughly pleased with my experience and it gave me an insight on the type of creativity you should expect at a restaurant similar to this.  I appreciate the Tasting Menu of being served items instead of choosing this or that.  When I go to a restaurant and I order the Tasting Menu, one of the biggest disappointments is the establishment making me choose one or the other.


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