Sous Rising Guesterant

I started exploring Underground dinners a year ago and haven’t looked back. Creative and exciting food, fascinating dinner participants, and the warm welcoming into these chef’s homes really make it a unique experience every time.

My favorite Underground, One Sister, became Elizabeth restaurant so I sought out to get my fix elsewhere. I recently ate at Thurk Underground (post coming soon) and last night dined at Sous Rising Guesterant with Chef Jake Bickelhaupt (veteran of Alinea, Schwa, and Charlie Trotter’s). He and his wife, Alexa, host the dinners in their place in Uptown. An open kitchen leading into the dining area allowed us to see Jake plate as well as converse with him and give feedback throughout the night. Alexa did an amazing job making us feel right at home, pouring our wine and helping serve.

We booked out the entire table of 8 with our Supper Club so we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting anyone new, but Jake and Alexa genuinely seemed excited to have us. Jake’s take on American cuisine combined molecular techniques — where needed — for surprise. The flavors were inventive and bright. Execution was perfect and the presentation — stunning. I’m looking forward to seeing Jake obtain his goal of opening a small BYO restaurant and dining with him again!

**I forgot my camera at home so these photos are all taken with my camera phone. For better pictures, visit: http://www.sousrisingchicago.com/gallery.html taken by Huge Galdones.

Trout Roe: coconut cream, white chocolate, pink peppercorn, pineapple

Trout Roe: coconut cream, white chocolate, pink peppercorn, pineapple

Kiwano: gin, horned melon, rosewater, hibiscus

Kiwano: gin, horned melon, rosewater, hibiscus

Soup: fingerling potato chips, pea, milk, tomato, tendril

Soup: fingerling potato chips, pea, milk, tomato, tendril

Salad: Spanish octopus, avocado, finger lime, coconut, coast of Maine kelp

Salad: Spanish octopus, avocado, finger lime, coconut, coast of Maine kelp

Winter corn: yolk, fermented black bean, Murray River salt

Winter corn: yolk, fermented black bean, Murray River salt

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Kampachi: Sake cure, pomelo, carob, banana, tapioca pearls

Gnocchi: hedgehog mushroom, black truffle, broccolini, pecorino

Gnocchi: hedgehog mushroom, black truffle, broccolini, pecorino

Palate cleanser

Palate cleanser

Black Pig: Kurobuta, Okinawan, chestnut, tamarind

Black Pig: Kurobuta, Okinawan, chestnut, tamarind

Uni: maitake, Asian crouton, black garlic, burdock root, kumquat

Uni: maitake, Asian crouton, black garlic, burdock root, kumquat

Beef: mango, aged soy, nori, yuzu kosho

Beef: mango, aged soy, nori, yuzu kosho

Tart: Calamansi

Tart: Calamansi

Sweet: Shortbread, root beer, prune, orange, vanilla, honey

Sweet: Shortbread, root beer, prune, orange, vanilla, honey

Caffeine: espuma, coffeeweed, cardamom

Caffeine: espuma, coffeeweed, cardamom

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Fall Diamond Menu at Elizabeth Restaurant

Expectations tend to color how we perceive experiences.  Will Ferrell movies for me are a good example:  I find my enjoyment of his movies is inversely proportional to how much I expect to like it.  Excited for Talladega Nights: blah.  Ambivalent about Step Brothers:  HIlarious!

Of course, this is very true for dining.  I’m often scared to return to a restaurant that I tried a few years ago and loved.  So much of the experience comes not just from the food, but also the ambiance, the company, and the diner’s past experiences.  I think people tend to remember places more by the whole experience than a pure objective critique of the food.  It could be the first time I had (and loved) sweetbreads (and realized there was nothing “sweet” or “bread” about them) or a fantastic wait staff.  On the return visit if it doesn’t live up to my romanticized memory, I leave somewhat disappointed.

How does this all relate to Elizabeth Restaurant? My last One Sister dinner was one of the best meals I’ve ever had (Re: Spring Menu).  Obviously I was quite excited to see what Chef Iliana Regan would do with a full kitchen and a staff to work with, but as our reservation drew near, it struck me that there was a chance the menu wouldn’t live up to my high expectations (Re:  Mind Blowing).  After all, it is a pretty ambitious project: three 10-20 course tasting menus with no overlapping dishes and they were only a few weeks into service.

I had the pleasure of eating the Diamond menu, the longest menu of the three offered. From start to finish, the magical presence of Mother Nature mixed with creativity peppered with molecular techniques kept my mouth happy and my taste buds jumping for joy with anticipation for the next course.

Chef Regan, once again, succeeded in crafting many courses that were truly mind-blowing.  A few standout courses:

–Foraged matsutake mushrooms and juniper powder on top of cinnamon custard. The textures and flavors were unlike anything I had experienced before — anywhere.
–Loup de mer with apple cider gelee and sunchoke puree. I used my finger to get every bit of this dish.
–Hamachi with fermented leek and fish sauce caramel. This dish packs a giant flavor punch. Plate licking good.

Service is a highlight I rarely discuss, but the staff does a great job of welcoming and pampering you from beginning to end. It’s fine dining service in a casual environment. Wine pairings are also not to be missed. Scott Noorman has a passion for wine and it shows.

I’m happy to say that the transition from One Sister, Inc. to Elizabeth Restaurant seems flawless for Chef Regan. Again, I was a huge fan of the underground dinners she once held in her home and the food hasn’t let down at her newest “home” in Lincoln Square. Dishes on each menu change all the time — below were the courses served the night I went. Next month I am going to the Deer menu so I’ll be sure to post my experience of that menu as well. Looking forward to it more than words can say!

Apple Pie and American Caviar -- salty and sweet

Apple Pie and American Caviar — salty and sweet

Pumpkin Experiment -- Pumpkin gelee with cocoa nib consomme.

Pumpkin Experiment — Pumpkin gelee with cocoa nib consomme.

Serious about the details

Serious about the details

Arugula Salad Sponge with goat cheese ice cream and sunflower ice cream along with various herbs and honeys

Arugula Salad Sponge with goat cheese ice cream and sunflower ice cream along with various herbs and honeys

Round Pancake with homemade goat cheese and malt vinegar powder

Round Pancake with homemade goat cheese and malt vinegar powder

Terrarium: Brioche crumbs with pickled blackberry, lemon, and greek yogurt

Terrarium — Brioche crumbs with pickled blackberry, lemon, and greek yogurt

Foraged matsutake mushrooms and juniper powder on top of cinnamon custard

Foraged matsutake mushrooms and juniper powder on top of cinnamon custard

Oatmeal dashi

Oatmeal dashi

Loup de mer with apple cider gelee and sunchoke puree. I used my finger to get every bit of this dish.

Loup de mer with apple cider gelee and sunchoke puree.

Shrimp Noodles -- buttery and umami

Shrimp Noodles — buttery and umami

Oyster and Nasturtium (kumamoto oyster).

Oyster and Nasturtium (kumamoto oyster)

Brioche curl with lobster and duck liver sauce

Brioche curl with lobster and duck liver sauce

Hand Course -- salty goodness

Hand Course — salty goodness

Hamachi with fermented leek and fish sauce caramel. This dish packs a giant flavor punch. Plate licking good.

Hamachi with fermented leek and fish sauce caramel.

Duck Pho in owl mug

Duck Pho in owl mug

Iliana pouring the pho from a cute tea pot

Iliana pouring the pho from a cute tea pot

Heart with celery ribbons and pickled onion. The celery was outrageously flavorful.

Heart with celery ribbons and pickled onion. The celery was outrageously flavorful.

Deer bresaola with carrot top pesto

Deer bresaola with carrot top pesto

Dry Aged Ribeye with tongue -- this meat was ridiculous

Dry Aged Ribeye with tongue — this meat was ridiculous

Feta and herbs

Feta and herbs

Bacon ice cream with koval caramel in a homemade cone

Bacon ice cream with koval caramel in a homemade cone

Scott Norman muddling in the drunk trunk.

Scott Noorman muddling in the drunk trunk.

Related articles: Tickets for Elizabeth restaurant now on sale (chicagoreader.com)

 

Spring Menu at One Sister Underground, Hello Elizabeth Restaurant

 

“I came up with this dish because I thought this is what a gnome would serve me if I was invited over to his house” is how Chef Iliana Regan of One Sister Inc. described the first of 25 courses served at her home.

And so the progression of whimsical genius and curiosity begins to show through each of Iliana’s dishes.  Rarely has a tasting menu felt so cohesive.  25 courses, each seamlessly blending avant-garde/modernist techniques with mostly midwest/seasonal ingredients, many of which were foraged or grown by Iliana herself. Each ingredient on the plate serves a purpose while pops of flavor come through when you least expect it.  Even the crowd pleaser course (whipped bacon fat, anyone?!!!) was so well rounded I was left craving a second beet marshmallow.

It is amazing how many of the dishes have been stuck in my head like a great song.  Many of the flavor combinations were unusual — combinations that proved impossible to “taste” in my mind.  Iliana’s skill in flavor pairing and creativity shine through each dish, such as pairing chicken liver with chocolate or creating a capsule of chamomile and cocoa nib that dissolves in mushroom tea. The vessels are also part of the fun — hanging glass orbs, owl mugs, licking the bottom of shot glasses and sucking the smoke out from underneath, and using your hand to impart the salt of a dish.

I am humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to join One Sister in its penultimate service, and I wait with bated breath for the opening of Iliana’s new restaurant, Elizabeth, slated to open end of this summer. I’m excited to say that Elizabeth restaurant is going to be a new extension of her home, described as a “dreamy log cabin”. I know she is currently growing, foraging, pickling, and prepping for her guests and I can’t wait to see what she serves us at her new “home”.

Spring Menu at One Sister

Parsnip Bubble Tea: Parsnip tea, Swiss chard beads, licorice gel

Hanging Course: “Ramps From Where They Came”

Marshmallow and Biscuit: Buttermilk biscuit with whipped bacon fat, black sea salt, ramp powder, beet marshmallow

Homegrown Salad: Arugula sponge, goat milk sorbet, sunflower seed sorbet, lavender honey, sunflower honey, pansies, pea shoots, sunflower sprouts

Ramps From Where They Came: Pickled ramps, pickled elderberries, wakame seaweed, soil (malt flour)

Enjoy: Potato “chip” cannoli with fava bean, lemon & truffle mousse, homemade mascarpone cheese and chive pudding

Asparagus and Quail Egg: Asparagus ribbon, chilled asparagus, soft poached quail egg, pickled strawberry

Zucchini Tree Nest: Zucchini squash, black pepper and tomato water “eggs”, perched in wheat grass

Carrots and Cashews: Blanched, dehydrated & shaved carrots,
cashew milk, roasted cashews, carrot top pesto

Chef Iliana Regan

1 Pill Makes You Larger: Cocoa nib and chamomile in a dissolving capsule

1 Pill Makes You Larger in Mushroom Tea: Cocoa nib and chamomile in a capsule that dissolves in mushroom tea

Herbed Ebelskiver: Buttermilk ebelskiver filled with house made parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme goat cheese, topped with apple cider vinegar powder & powdered sugar

Radish: Shaved and lightly sauteed radish, marinated daikon radish, home grown radish sprouts, dandelion stalks, fried radish tops

Rice Crispy and Bear: Puffed wild rice, cured black bear, Wisconsin cheddar, pink peppercorn

Chocolate Dashi: Dark chocolate dashi with chia seeds

Scallop and Peas: Seared sea scallop, ham, snap peas, yogurt, candied meyer lemon rind, freeze dried peas, pea shoots

Shrimp Noodles: Shrimp Noodles with toasted kale, garlic, parmesan, butter

Facebooking the Progression

Can’t help but lick the spoon…

Oysters

Your Hand: Bay smoked mussel, spinach, garlic, lemon zest, Iowa La Quercia prosciutto

Oyster and Mushrooms on Stone: Steamed Oysters, trumpet mushrooms, chick weed, dried ramp top, dried parsley, ramp top cubes

Roe, Salty, Sweet, Smoke: Cherry wood infused white chocolate ganache, marble rye crisp, BLiS trout roe

Beef Pho broth

Owl Mug

Chicken liver mousse: Chicken liver mousse encapsulated in dark cocoa, fennel pollen, madiera gel

Rabbit Ravioli: Rabbit rillette ravioli in red wine butter sauce & sauteed mustard greens

Adoration and amazement

Good to the last drop

Homemade Cheese course: Pork loin, grits, homemade sherry vinegar ricotta, puffed barley, shallot, foraged & pickled fiddle heads, pork blood reduction

Strawberries and Beets: Strawberry custard, graham crackers, dehydrated strawberries, beet petals, beet pudding, meringues, soft rind wisconsin cheese ice cream

Oatmeal: Oatmeal ice cream, oatmeal stout caramel, cherry and hazelnut crumble, cocoa cookies

Bite: Warm chocolate and almond donut