Events

42 Grams

with Chef/Partner Jake Bickelhaupt and Partner Alexa Welsh

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Saturday, November 22, 2014

4662 North Broadway
Chicago, Illinois

Review

Sublime Dining at 42 Grams

BY TODD ARKEBAUER, VICE-CHARGÉ DE PRESSE
PHOTOS BY CHEVALIER HUGE GALDONES

Over four successive nights November 19-22, 2014, Chaîne Chicago experienced the progressive American cuisine of Chef-Owner Jake Bickelhaupt at 10-month-old 42 grams. The name is based on the notion that a human soul weighs 21 grams, and Chef Jake and his wife Alexa Welsh collectively bring 42 grams of soul to their heavenly fine dining BYOB restaurant.

In November 2013 the Chaîne visited the dynamic duo at Sous Rising, an underground dining club located in their apartment, above what is now the location of 42 grams.  In its day, Sous Rising was appreciated as much for the polished food as the unique “dinner-party-with-friends” ambience, and our members were anxious to see if that feeling could be successfully recaptured in the new venture. This anticipation was amplified when, just days before our event, 42 grams earned two Michelin stars. Happily, the same intimate atmosphere has been recreated at the new location with its handsome 10-seat dining table and 8-seat counter overlooking Chef Jake’s open kitchen. Alexa remains the consummate hostess and knowledgeable server, making everyone feel welcomed and comfortable, and the carefully crafted cuisine is better than ever.

Chef Jake’s impressive résumé includes stints at some of Chicago’s most highly acclaimed restaurants, including Alinea, Charlie Trotter’s and Schwa. For his autumn menu, he drew inspiration from Chicago’s culinary cultural diversity and childhood memories of Wisconsin, employing more traditional cooking techniques than his past modernist menus. Midwestern inspiration was supplemented by a progression of diverse Asian flavors that provided a unifying theme for Chef Jake’s gastronomic story and elevated the flavor of his high-quality ingredients.

The meal began with crispy snacks that were incorporated into a seasonal centerpiece: white pecorino crisps, Vidalia onion parchment, and salmon skin fish-n-chips with togarashi and malt vinegar dust. The first course was sashimi, beautifully presented in an oyster shell-shaped dish that rested in a bowl of seaweed. A bite-sized cube of pale pink hiramasa (also known as Baja yellowtail) was topped with a grilled, fermented sour gherkin, finger lime cells and a blue orchid. These courses paired nicely with a light and lively Champagne Brut Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Bancs NV, its creamy pear and citrus notes harmonizing with the introductory bites.

Our next dish, mojama de atún, took us to Spain. Sweet pea gelato, sea buckthorn, apricot kernels and oxalis topped tiny filets of salt-cured tuna loin, creating a remarkable contrast in textures, tastes and temperatures. “Flavors of the Sea” followed. This course was a tribute to one of Chef Jake’s culinary heroes, the late Charlie Trotter, who once remarked that his last meal would include “many courses of tiny, raw, delicate seafood.” Chef Trotter would have been proud of this dish: Moroccan carabineros shrimp were topped with smoked roe, white sturgeon caviar, and sea vegetables accompanied by powdered phytoplankton and a lemony shrimp froth, served on plates acquired from Chef Trotter’s estate that were gifted to Chef Jake and Alexa at the opening of 42 grams. These courses were served with 2008 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Domaine du Vieux Telegramme, a Rhone white blend with bright citrus, honey and mineral notes that matched these seafood courses impeccably.

Two fish courses followed. Inspired by the couple’s love for Thai take-out food, Chef Jake presented fragrant and flavorful green curry grilled Snake River white sturgeon with jasmine rice broth, crispy chicken skin and grated cashew. Chef Jake’s childhood scent memories of Wisconsin pine forests informed the next course. Skuna Bay salmon was brined in Forbidden Forest Lapsang Souchong tea that had been aged in Willet Rye barrels for six to nine months and lightly smoked with fallen pine needles, imparting a unique blend of smoky and sweet flavors to the silky fish. The salmon was served atop grilled bread made from spent malted barley and hops acquired from a local home brewer (beer being another nod to Wisconsin), thinly sliced matsutake mushrooms, miso butter, matsutake dashi and nasturtium leaves, which combined to make an extraordinary earthy dish that was a perfect representation of the season. A light-bodied Oregon Pinot Noir—Witness Tree Vineyard Vintage Select 1997 Eola-Amity Hills in the Willamette Valley—matched well with the fish course, its cherry, anise and earth flavors enhancing these courses.

Next, Chef Jake created house-made cultured barley koji porridge that was mixed with enoki mushroom and small grapefruit cubes topped with crispy matchsticks of pig heart and pork jowl, chervil, thyme and mugolio (Italian pine cone bud syrup). “Offal on offal” followed: ash-baked, eggplant-encrusted veal sweetbreads were topped with frozen and micro-planed foie gras, black Burgundy truffle and ground cherry puree. A light-textured 1990 J. Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots offered earthy leather and subtle dark fruit notes that complemented these courses.

Our final savory course was A-5 Miyazaki Wagyu strip loin that had been marinated with house-made, barrel-aged fermented soy sauce and triple seared over binchotan coals with bone marrow and beef tendon powder, umeboshi jus, baby bok choy and red shiso. The accompanying 1995 Chateau Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Reserve from South West Australia exhibited distinctive herbal overtones together with cigar box and baked dark fruit that matched admirably with the rich beef.

Matcha green tea panna cotta and powder with sesame nougatine and yuzu foam was the first sweet dish followed by a single-bite sphere of tart kabosu juice encased in a white chocolate shell topped with green apple sorrel leaf and held in place on a spoon with a dot of thick honey cream. Our delightful main dessert comprised torn pieces of canelé with a soft and tender custard center and caramelized crust, tamarind gelato, brown butter crumbs, roasted banana pudding, shaved hazelnut and a trio of pink bubblegum hyssop blossoms. Finally, guests concluded with a “solid” cappuccino—Sparrow’s 42 grams blend Ethiopian coffee espuma with Indian cardamom sweet cream, which was reminiscent of a smooth whipped tiramisu. A Riesling from Austria, 1991 TBA Morandell Neusiedlersee, enhanced these desserts.

Chicago Chaîne has been privileged to experience first-hand the transformation of the Sous Rising “guestaurant” into a two-Michelin-star restaurant in the heart of Uptown. The combination of Chef Jake’s inventive and beautiful cuisine with Alexa’s gracious hospitality makes 42 grams a divinely soulful dining experience!

Invitation

42 Grams
with Chef/Partner Jake Bickelhaupt and Partner Alexa Welsh

“The soul weighs 21 grams”
~ 42 grams represents what Chef Jake & his wife Alexa collectively bring to the dining experience . . . . .

From underground “guestaurant” to highly acclaimed and anticipated restaurant!  Please join us as we spend an evening with Chef Jake Bickelhaupt and his wife Alexa Welsh in their Uptown “ground level” restaurant, 42 grams.  Chef Jake honed his skills at some of Chicago’s most highly regarded dining establishments, opened an underground dining “guestaurant” and has now successfully taken the next step of opening his own restaurant.  The evening will feature a multi-course, chef-driven tasting menu, paired with fine wines from our cellar that will complement Chef Jake’s delicious and imaginative seasonal creations.  His beautiful presentations are sure to appeal to both your palate and your eyes!

42 grams is a micro restaurant.  We will offer two (2) seatings per evening, Wednesday through Friday. Dining times is at 6:00pm for 10 guests and at 8:30pm for 8 guests.  When responding to the invite, please give us your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices for dining dates and preferred dining times.  We will do our best to accommodate your preferences.  There is no valet parking but plenty of street parking, taxis, Uber and the red line.

We are looking forward to a wonderful evening and another unique experience!

Gastronomically,

Mon Y. Roldan
Bailli de Chicago