Monday, November 15, 2010

Gilt Bar

What was supposed to be a Party People Reunion turned into dinner with two friends. We all met at our former place of employment, but none of us work there anymore.  Tejus was in town for a few days so we set up a dinner to celebrate his visit! Unfortunately at the last minute, Chris and Louisa could no longer join due to a sad passing in Louisa's family.

Sindhu, Tejus and I noticed a serious void in our dinner group with just the three of us. The last place setting remained unused and a reminder that our dinner group was not complete.  What really shocked us was our inability to order sharing dishes without our fourth-partner-in-crime.  Tejus is lactose intolerant, Sindhu a pescitarian, Chris a non-fish eater and me, the gluten-free one.  You would think that the four of us would have many challenges with dinner menus, however, do not be fooled! It has been surprisingly easy in the past!  Two would share a dish that a third could not eat and there was always this natural balance among friends.  With our missing one, we resorted to the only things left on the Gilt menu that we could all three eat.

Set in a dark, rustic atmosphere, Gilt was packed at 7pm on a Thursday evening. Patrons were even sitting at the lounge chairs and couches to snack on appetizers and sip on drinks.  Two overdressed gals in way too much make-up sat to our right along the exposed brick-painted-white wall to the east side.  A fanciful modern chandalier hung above the dim lit room.

The food was delicious and at a great value for an upscale lounge downtown across from the Merchandise mart.  By process of elimination, here's what the three of us were able to eat:
  • roasted beets, clementines, feta cheese, toasted pistachios, arugula & pink peppercorn vinaigrette $10
  • Sindhu and Tejus also shared the "on toast" sweet balsamic roasted garlic & olive oil $5
  • chilled hamachi crudo with green apple heirloom radish, mint & curry vinaigrette $15
  • bouchot mussels with white wine, shallots, herbs & salsa verde $18
  • blackened cauliflower with red onion, capers & chili $7
  • smashed red potatoes with roasted garlic & chicken jus $5
There were also some other salads to choose from, but the roasted beets sounded best!  The salad was a bit larger than a starter salad for one, but not quite enough for three of us to share. I mostly ate the salad while Tejus and Sindhu munched on the crusty loaf of bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic. The beets were cubed fresh and roasted to dark red/purple color. The light flavor was nicely complimeted with sweet clemintines bits and just a sprinkle of feta cheese. Pistachios added a nice savory saltiness and a unique pairing with arugula. I love arugula salads!

Hamachi is a light flavored white fish. This plate was served sashimi style with small slivers covering a plate much like a traditional German prosciutto dish.  It only had a hint of mint but the curry vinagrette added a nice aroma.  Don't look for a large portion or a meal in it's on with this choice - it's definitely meant to be shared so each person can have a little taste of hamachi.

Mussels are mussels. When they're fresh and cooked well you're happy, but when mussles are old or over cooked they're nasty.  I always enjoy eating mussels and this was no different.  The large bowl filled with mussles was enough for all of us to share, and then some extra.  The most noticable flavor was the white wine. Nothing extraordinary to report on the mussels but nothing to complain about either.

We picked the two sides of cauliflower and smashed potatoes because honestly there wasn't another main dish we could order to satisfy our dietary restrictions!  The sides were woth it though - excellent portions with enough for four people to share.  I can't say I've ever had blacked cauliflower before but I don't know why more restaurants don't offer it! The hit of smokey flavor really added to the normally-bland vegitable.  The potatoes come with chicken jus so if you're a strict vegitarian, this dish isn't for you. But the savory jus on the melted buttery potatoes was the perfect balance of flavor. 

For a final tab of $30/each, we really had an excellent variety of dishes, a well rounded meal and 2.5 hours of fantastic company.  Definitely worth a trip to Gilt Bar.  I'm looking forward to the menu refresh so I can try new creations from the master chef.

Gilt Bar
230 W. Kinzie Street

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