Our final dinner in Chicago was at the newly renovated Oriole for a spectacular night of eats.
This two Michelin starred contemporary American restaurant comes from chef Noah Sandoval where they recently had a dramatic renovation resulting in a larger area and a new gorgeous open kitchen that’s the focal point of the restaurant. With a mix of industrial and eclectic vibes, the interior was such a cool and beautiful space.
The entrance of Oriole was anything but ordinary where we were first greeted by the host and sat inside the original freight elevator of the building. Here we enjoyed a refreshing pre-dinner mocktail before the doors of the elevator opened into the restaurant.
Once entering the restaurant, you’ll find the bar and lounge where we started the dining experience at the bar with drinks and a few bites.
We didn’t receive the menu until the end of the meal so everything on the tasting menu was a complete surprise.
I love a tartare and this was no exception. With lots of aromatic herbs, it was a bright and vibrant amuse bouche to start the tasting menu.
A perfect Hokkaido uni bite with its creamy texture and delicate flavors of white soy. Another delicious start.
After these two bites we were escorted to the open kitchen where we had our next small bite.
Pillowy brioche with decadent foie gras, a match made in heaven! The sweet yet tart huckleberries and lemony anise hyssop rounded out the richness from the bread and foie gras.
We then headed to the dining room where tables were nicely spread out.
Such a thoughtful touch to celebrate our anniversary!
I’m a sucker for caviar so of course I enjoyed this. The freshness from the tomatoes and the intensity of the agrumato (an oil made from pressing olives and citrus together) was a great compliment to the luxurious caviar.
An unexpected combination of flavors made for a delectable dish. Various nuances of sweetness came from the crab, coconut, and honeydew and somehow came together harmoniously.
A comforting custard scented with ginger, similar to chawanmushi, had ribbons of thinly shaved zucchini and black truffle. The original version of this dish was with matsutake mushrooms instead of zucchini (Tommaso had this) but they tweaked mine to omit the matsutake.
Let’s talk about this presentation…stunning! The black bass, cooked to perfection, was nestled in an amazake (fermented rice) and genmai (green tea with brown rice kernels) silky emulsion. An ode to delicate Japanese flavors. The beautifully arranged milk bread almost resembled a flower where each segment was like a petal. Soft, pillowy, and scrumptious with the koji butter.
This signature dish at Oriole might annoy the chef since he’s made it so many times but it should never leave the menu because it was that good. Subtle flavors of caraway with the delicate strands of capellini and the aroma of fresh truffle made this impeccable.
Before our last savory course, one of the servers brought out fresh wasabi root and grated it for the beef course.
Buttery wagyu beef just melted in my mouth. Even though it might be a small piece, it’s more than enough since it’s so rich. The fresh wasabi helped cut through that fattiness and added a little kick.
This was by far my least favorite dish of the night as it didn’t make sense. Typically, a palate cleanser should be refreshing and cleanse your palate after the savory dishes before progressing into the dessert courses. While the rhubarb granita was nice, the Szechuan peppercorns completely blew out my palate. If you’re unfamiliar with Szechuan peppercorn, it has a slight bitter and citrus flavor followed by a numbing and tingling sensation. After finishing this dish, my entire mouth was slightly numb and that heat lingered on my tongue.
Now onto the main dessert. A soufflé!
I would have rated this soufflé higher if it had more traditional flavors that I’m favorable of. The actual soufflé was perfectly executed, airy and light with a touch of lemon flavor. The sauce poured on top was savory made from Délice de Bourgogne cheese which resulted in a slightly odd combination of flavors with the soufflé. Délice de Bourgogne is a soft triple cream cow’s milk cheese which I would have absolutely loved by itself as I’m a cheese fanatic. I just wasn’t a fan of the cheese with the sweet soufflé.
Once again there’s this theme of sweet with spice or savory which isn’t my personal favorite.
Desserts were my least favorite part of the meal as I prefer more straightforward sweet desserts rather than sweet and savory flavor profiles.
Service was phenomenal, one of the best I’ve had, as the staff were enthusiastic and passionate and not pretentious. I enjoyed the overall experience at Oriole so my rating is an 8/10.