Monday, November 15, 2021

After 2 Years Starting again with a Michelin Star Restaurant Boka in Chicago

Since everyone blames all woes on COVID I will blame my lack of activity here for the same reason. Kind of lame but it was true that restaurants became mostly take out only.  My writeups depend on the whole experience, Food, Service and Atmosphere.  Anyway I had the opportunity to go to a great restaurant city and had an excuse to entertain one of our great clients so why not go to a multiple nominated James Beard Award and a 9 year Michelin Star restaurant to have a great meal.  So Boka was it.

Boka Chicago is part of the Boka Restaurant Group owned by Kevin Boehm who is partnered with Chef Lee Wolen.  The restaurant has maintained a level of excellence with multiple awards nationally and locally.  Anyone who understands the rigor that is required to maintain a Michelin Star recognizes that this Chef is beyond outstanding.  I once saw an Interview with Daniel Baloud at a NYT Talk and he described th level of effort, and dedication to quality that is require to obtain and maintain a Michelin Star.

We were a group of 4 and all of us were very excited to go here for a great dining experience.  Boka is on North Halsted the entrance is super inviting as you walk through a little garden into a very warm and cozy environment.  The decorations are eclectic with a variety of thought provoking art.  Our host for the evening was Augustus and our first difficult choice of the night was to choose from the very strong Entrée Menu or to be daring and go for the 8 course tasting menu.  Our group was unfazed and unanimously chose the tasting menu and why wouldn't you want to try the all star lineup and get a taste of what the chef considers their best.  The tasting menu has an option with wine pairing and 2 of us went that way and 2 of us wanted to sample their very intriguing cocktail menu.  I will not go into too much depth here but the cocktails used ingredients like Tamarind, Curry, Serrano Peppers and other exotic ingredients.

Creamy Caviar

First course was a combination Celery Root, Dill Honey Nut Squash Puree topped with Golden Kaluga Caviar and some Buckwheat and Nori to provide some crunch. I always have anxiety about eating Caviar but Golden Kaluga is some of the finest in the world and combined with the puree it created a silky creamy, slightly salty and buttery bite with a little crunch from the buckwheat.  This was paired with a Naveran Cava Sparkling Wine.  This was a great way to start. 

Course two was built on Live Diver Scallop with infused Concord Grapes, Pear and thinly sliced Radish with a gentle pour of a pink liquid with a slight vinegar taste that brought some color to the scallop.  Again always a little apprehensive of raw Scallop but being prepared perfectly the dish although not as memorable as the others really delivered a great light and delicate taste.  I especially enjoyed the juicy grape.  This dish was paired with a Kruger Rumpf Riesling.  

Matsutake Soup

Course 3 was one of my favorites because it was rich and the bite of a burnt piece of Ginger made a great but compatible contrast.  The dish was Matsutake Mushroom Soup I had not had this before but it was so delicious I could have it many times over.  The broth was roasted chicken with Kombu and the burnt ginger provided the sweet and heat.  What a great dish simple but delicious.  The beauty of this tasting menu is that the quality of the ingredients and expense of each makes the experience extremely special.  This dish was paired with a Domaine Rolet Cremant Du Jura (Sparkling Wine)

We are now an hour in we have had some great pre Entrée courses and now comes the time to get into some really exotic proteins from around the world. The first was Tasmanian Ocean Trout with celtuce, black trumpet mushrooms and brown butter.  Ocean Trout is orange like pink but much leaner and firmer this was a good dish again high quality ingredients paired well. The wine was Domaine Guiberteau

This course was my favorite it was a Dry Aged Rohan Duck with a plum sauce and a roasted shallot.  The skin was crispy like a suckling pig skin with a wonderful salty seasoning.  The duck was perfectly cooked and so tender and was combined with a wonderful plum sauce that was both sweet and tiny bit sour.  I will remember this dish for quite a long time the skin was rendered to a point where it became a crackling and a separate addition to the duck breast.  Almost a 2 for 1 treat.   This is a new breed of duck which is a combination of a Mallard and Pekin Duck it is bred at D'Artagnan Farms in the Catskills of New York.

The last Entrée course was Roasted Venison and Cabbage, with a honey Crisp and Cardamom sauce.  The Venison was cooked to perfection and very tender and the sauce highlighted the meat.  We all enjoyed this dish because it was simple but elegant.  It was paired with a Mollydooker 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was a great bite just before the dessert round.

There were 2 desserts the highlight was Hazelnut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Sauce, Hazelnuts and Puffed Grains.  This was awesome bowl licking good.  It was a great way to wrap up dinner.  

Boka is a must go when visiting Chicago either way you go A la Carte or Tasting Menu you will have great Service and Food.  The tasting menu comes with a variety of chocolates and a to go breakfast bread that is delicious with you next morning coffee.