160 Blue Restaurant

Monday, March 15, 2010

General Manager Cari Anderson, Executive Chef Michael McDonald



By Ethel Gofen, Officier Dame de la Chaîne

We gathered on the Ides of March at One Sixtyblue, a destination since 1998 for both food-lovers and Michael Jordan fans (he’s an owner), to enjoy the originality and skills of Chef Michael McDonald. From the wonderful quartet of passed hors d’oeuvres—-Wagyu beef short ribs, lobster, Alaskan king crab, and house-cured steelhead—-to the unique crispy pig’s tail course followed by a slow-cooked Waygu beef sirloin flap and then three outstanding cheeses, we marveled at new flavors and varied textures as we also relished the inspired pairings using wines from many different areas of the world. Pianist Mark Burnell added to the festivity with his smooth jazz and blues. We were especially happy to have eight new members and many distinguished out-of-town guests including Bailli Jan van Os and his wife Dame Richtje van Os from the Netherlands sharing this special dinner. They had found us on our website!

We entered the dining room with its stunning views of the city to the east and its open kitchen and were at once welcomed with a toast by Chevalier William Stein, who praised wine, the assembled company, and our treasured guests. With the taste of NV Boyer Brut Blanc de Blancs that accompanied the hors d’oeuvres lingering on our palates, we sat down to a rich oyster bisque incorporating creamed spinach, hollandaise and celery root. The wine for this course was 2007 Rully, Vincent Girardin, Vieilles Vignes. Next, seared quail enhanced with black trumpet mushrooms and risotto parmesan was paired with 1998 Bastian Cuntrari VDT, Felice Coppo Viticoltore, Mombello Monferato. The amazing pig’s tail course was matched with 1988 Château Palmer, Margaux, Troisième Crus, a wine with still sufficient tannin to cut the rich flavor of the pork. Vice-Conseiller Culinaire David Danielson, giving the food commentary, described the painstaking process of braising and deboning the pigs’ tails, then reforming and breading and deep-frying them. Braised pork cheek, sauerkraut, mustard sauce and a fried pig skin garnish completed this complex dish that used three techniques and three parts of the pig. Vice-Échanson Tim Malishenko noted that it embodied “umami.” Vice Chancelier/Argentier Simeon “Mon” Roldan gave the wine commentary and explained how this wine had been opened at 2:00 p.m., poured through a ‘venturi’ and decanted.

The beef dish that followed was very rich and tender and delighted all with its morel mushrooms and black truffle sauce. The accompanying 2007 Carmenere, Marques Casa Concha, D. O. Peumo from Chile was, we learned, developed from one of the original five grape varieties of Bordeaux. Three excellent cheeses—-Saint Agur Blue from France, Gorgonzola Naturale from Italy, and Stichelton from the United Kingdom—-were served with quince jam and walnut raisin toast and paired with both a 1997 Port Colheita, Barao de Villa and an American type of Madeira from The Rare Wine Company, Historic Series, Charleston, Sercial, Special Reserve. The sixth and final course was a strawberry rhubarb semolina cake flavored with ginger and basil foam and matched with 2003 Château Climens, Barsac, Premier Cru Classé. 

Bailli Jane Tracy introduced Chef Michael and his General Manager Cari Anderson, and we applauded them as well as Wine Director Lawrence Colburn,  Sous-Chef Andrew Jenrich, Executive Pastry Chef Hillary Blanchard, and the entire staff whose high standards and perfect teamwork made for a fabulous evening of fine dining, warmth and friendship.  A Chaîne decanter was presented as a lasting symbol of our appreciation for their great talent and hard work.


he market district of West Randolph has a variety of dining establishments, ranging from up‐scale to casual, with new ones continually entering the neighborhood. In 1998 one sixtyblue opened its doors and Chicagoans discovered high ceilings, a spacious, cleverly designed restaurant creating an eclectic ambiance. One sixtyblue will be available for our own exclusive use and a very professional and vivacious evening is planned.

Over the past year we have had the pleasure of getting to know one sixtyblue’s Executive Chef Michael McDonald and appreciate his goal of how to uniquely best tempt the palate. Chef McDonald has introduced his own special philosophy of high culinary flair to much acclaim. He was most recently the Executive Chef of Restaurant Charlie, the seafood‐focused restaurant in the Palazzo resort in Las Vegas and prior to that the Executive Chef of “C”, Chef Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in the One and Only Palmilla Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico . The integrity, professionalism and care that has already gone into the planning of our March dinner is a precursor of knowing how this accomplished chef will treat us to a series of innovative and contemporary American dishes not to be missed.

Wines have been carefully paired and, as is customary, will reveal and complement the landscape of the dinner itself. Our evening at One sixtyblue promises discreet yet memorable jazzy/blues music from accomplished pianist/vocalist/arranger, Mark Burnell who is one of Chicago’s most sought after musician/performers. His work has been hailed as “silky smooth and highly polished”. Song for our evening will be from performer and philanthropist John Metzig (who formally used to open for Danny Thomas in Las Vegas). I believe we can anticipate an evening in the finest of Chaîne traditions at this culinary landmark as well as enjoying each other’s company in the spirit of camaraderie and gastronomy for what we anticipate will be a brilliant evening.