Monday, September 15, 2014 –
Reception: 6:30 pm
Dinner: 7:15 pm
1729 N. Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois
Event Price: $215.00 per person, all-inclusive
Dress Code: Business Suit with tie. Decorations for Members
Parking: Valet Parking & Street Metered Parking Available
Renewing Friendships at the Revitalized BOKA
On September 15, 2014, Chaîne Chicago opened its 2014/2015 season with a “Dîner Amical” created by Chef Lee Wolen, Executive Chef and Partner at BOKA. Following stints at Eleven Madison Park and The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago, Chef Wolen took the helm of the decade-old Michelin-starred restaurant in January following major renovations. Although the new space is undeniably stunning, Chef Wolen’s menu makeover is the real highlight of BOKA 2.0, which proved to be a brilliant venue for members to renew camaraderie after summer break.
As more than seventy attendees were greeted at a Champagne reception, many were favorably struck by the cool retro-Victorian vibe of BOKA’s remodel—a wall of antique escutcheons, embossed tin ceiling tiles, dramatic geometric ceramic tiled floors and a wall of living plants adorned with whimsical toleware portraits. Three canapés were passed: golden-brown salted cod fritters with red pepper purée; rich foie gras bites rolled in chopped hazelnuts topped with fig jam; and beets covered in crushed sunflower seeds and buckwheat crowned with creamy smoked sturgeon and golden trout roe. Servers poured NV Gaston Chiquet Champagne Réserve Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ Aÿ; the toasty, nutty notes of this 100% Chardonnay sparkler enhanced the tasty trio of canapés.
Following the festive reception, guests were seated throughout the entire restaurant. Simultaneously, impeccable servers soon presented an exquisite first course: ginger-marinated fluke sashimi topped with dashi-infused tapioca, grapefruit and Vietnamese coriander leaves. Gaston Chiquet Champagne continued to flow, its excellent acidity and lemon and green apple notes complemented the clean flavors of our refreshing starter.
Next, blanched and peeled tomatoes from Green City farmers market were served with peekytoe crab and sea urchin atop velvety avocado purée, providing an explosion of color and flavor. This course was paired with 2011 Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape, a southern Rhone-style blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Aged in neutral French oak and some concrete, the medium-bodied wine exhibited white peach and floral notes with fine acidity and minerality to enhance the local produce and seafood.
Course three was striped bass topped with tart umeboshi plum purée and crispy crumbled shallots on succotash and fresh claret-colored sliced plums with roasted pork broth poured tableside. The fish matched pleasingly with 2007 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Cote de Bouguerots, an elegantly structured Chardonnay that showcased a classic steely oyster shell nose and explosive citrus and white peach flavors with refreshing acidity that lent dimension and richness to this dish.
The fourth course was short rib that was grilled after cooking sous vide for 48 hours, creating a surprising rib-eye taste and texture. The beef was topped with roasted broccoli and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms accompanied by diced corned tongue and pickled mushrooms that provided a nice acidic balance to the rich jus and creamy mushroom purée. It matched beautifully with a refined, Merlot-driven Grand Cru Bordeaux from Saint-Emilion, 1995 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot. This well-balanced wine showed cedar and leather notes with dark fruits and a rich, supple finish that elevated the flavorful meat course.
Pastry Chef Genie Kwon crafted a decadent dessert that was as lovely as it was delicious: chocolate ganache with cocoa-nib crumble, caramelized white chocolate ice cream, cassis sorbet and pistachio, which was paired with 1997 Rozès Porto Vintage Port. Although not ideal with the cassis component of the dessert, this port’s dark fruit flavors and hints of chocolate and espresso enhanced this creative dessert.
Throughout the evening Officier-Caviste Hilton Weinberg gave insightful wine commentary, and while mignardises and coffee were served, Chef Wolen discussed his cuisine. Although humble and soft-spoken, guests were impressed by this rising superstar’s passion for creating fresh, seasonally focused dishes using as many local products as possible. His contemporary, clean-flavored American comfort cuisine is somehow complex and simple at the same time, and every visually appealing bite from start to finish was a lesson in balancing flavors and textures.
As the evening concluded, Bailli Mon Roldan acknowledged and thanked Chef Wolen and his team. Happily, Chicago can rest comfortably that the BOKA Group’s flagship restaurant will be retaining its coveted Michelin-star under Chef Wolen’s leadership. With friendships invigorated at the revitalized BOKA, Chaîne Chicago’s season-opening evening was a smashing success!
Cher Confrères and Consœurs,
The tasting is done, the menu selected and the wines ready to flow!
Greetings and welcome to a festive Dîner Amical to open our 2014-2015 Program Season. Our dear friend, Chef Lee Wolen is excited to host us at his new place, the newly revamped Michelin-starred staple of the Chicago dining scene -
1729 N. Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois
Monday, September 15, 2014
Chef Wolen joined BOKA as Executive Chef/Partner this past winter. He brings along his experience from El Bulli, Eleven Madison Park and The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago, to name a few, to refresh the menu at BOKA. Years of passion for creating fresh seasonally focused dishes utilizing as many local products as possible, leads to contemporary, clean-flavored American cuisine, which is both beautiful and delicious. Each bite is balanced from start to finish leading to the next selection.
Chef Wolen crafted a special menu for our group. We will begin the evening with our customary champagne reception saying hello to friends we may not have seen over the summer and interact with new and future long-term friends. The canapés are delicious and not to be missed. From there we will be seated for a 5-course, palate-pleasing adventure. Wines have been carefully selected to enhance each course.
The newly redecorated BOKA will be exclusively ours for the evening. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce friends and serious prospects for our chapter. As this is sure to be a hot ticket, please sign up promptly.
We look forward to another great Chicago Chaîne season!
Mon Y. Roldan
Bailli de Chicago