Monday, October 22, 2001
Chef Michael Foley
Refined Comfort At Printer's Row
A good measure of what sort of establishment you are is how long you have survived within the competitive circles of fine dining in a gastronomic city such as Chicago. After an interval of twenty years plus, Michael Foley is still a hard-working leader, espousing food diplomacy, artisanale produce and boutique cheeses. His establishment has consistently garnered three/three and a half stars from The New York Times over those twenty years, and Michael has participated several times in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition. The Chicago Chapter showed up in October to have its collective eye ravished by the balanced presentation of each course. Chevalier Kent Armbruster offered a toast by reading a passage from the 2002 edition of Windows On The World Complete Wine Course. We were reminded of September 11 2001, and a moment of silence was observed for the employees of the Windows On The World restaurant who perished that day.
After copious hot and cold amuses the first of a diverse selection of bold dishes were served and a Tokaji Aszú - with its apricot/orange/melon dominance - accompanied a salt-cured buttery foie gras from New York. This foie gras had been torchon-cured, in-house for four days in orange zest and green peppercorns. A Persimmon chutney accompanied it and included Muscat raisins, and reduced balsamic vinegar.
A slow roasted salmon dish partnered with seared scallop signaled an elegant second course. The Thai curried broth was complicated and comprised lemongrass, coconut milk and clam juice. Baby bok choy divided the dish in two and a flaky pastry twist leaned casually up against it all.
Peppered pan-sautéed venison followed and sat atop a purée of celery root and potato. The border of this dish gave solace in the form of a ragout of pearl onions, crimini mushrooms, spinach and sage - the whole deglazed with Cognac. The ‘85 Dominus was earthy, possessing an easy blend and long finish sustaining the rich game flavors.
We were provided with a cheese card explaining the description, history and affinage of each cheese adding an educational element to this quintessential course. Following dessert, Michael Foley’s superb leadership was the final accolade. He had transported us away from the pre-occupying events that this autumn had brought to all of us.