Monday, March 20, 2017 –
A Night at the “Playground”
Just four weeks after opening the doors of her new eatery, Curious “A Chef’s Playground,” chef-owner Laurel Khan welcomed members of the Chicago Bailliage and their guests to experience her unique take on “urban comfort food.” Khan’s ever-changing menu reflects her dedication to using seasonal, local ingredients to explore a wide range of food cultures.
While the cuisine may vary from day to day, Chef Khan’s love of spices—particularly middle-eastern spices from her husband’s Pakistani heritage—is a constant. “I always wanted to name a restaurant Cayenne Kitchen,” jokes Khan, “because I put cayenne in everything.”
Served family style, the five-course menu enjoyed by the Chicago Chaîne was no exception to her “spice in everything” rule. The meal began with an impossibly light yet buttery Chicago giardiniera bread with house-made garlic herb butter. Other savory dishes included spicy shrimp and sausage gumbo with okra; southern chicken and biscuits with vegetables, fresh herbs and a lightly curried sauce; and southwestern lamb shank served over creamy polenta with middle-eastern spices.
The Chicago Bailliage provided wines from its own extensive cellar to accompany each dish. A character-filled 2012 Anaba Sonoma Coast Chardonnay paired nicely with the bread and chicken dishes. Diners also enjoyed discussing which of the Cabernet Sauvignons—a 1997 vintage from Seven Hills Winery and a 1989 Jacaranda Ridge from Australia—best accentuated the lamb.
The evening concluded with an apple and olive oil cake topped with maple icing that diners paired with a 2011 Zinck “Eichberg” Grand Cru Gewürztraminer from Alsace. During dessert, Chef Khan took questions from diners and received the heartfelt thanks of the Chicago Bailli, Mon Roldan.