16 December 2014
After I had planned my trip to Chicago to toast the sad closing of L2O, I found out another Chicago dining institution, the 1-Michelin Takashi, was also closing at the turn of the year. Now I’ve not been back at Takashi for awhile (I didn’t really find it that interesting), I figured it would be good to go in to have the tasting menu for one last time.
I made the long walk from the El to Takashi on my last evening in Chicago. A little chaotic there but not surprising. Was sat at a table near the counter area, and I happily went with the final 7-course tasting menu — that was celebrating the restaurant’s accomplished history.
After a cocktail my amuse bouche arrived, a humble gyoza.
Not bad, but nothing very special. Time to get ready for a good feast with this as the next dish arrived, a dish based on squid and cuttlefish.
Hmmm… honestly these raw items did not taste that great, not the freshest not with a good texture. It’s sat around long enough to get “sticky” — which is maybe one reason it has so much “salad dressing” on bottom and herbs rolled within. Hmmm…
And I was also told that it was course #2, so the amuse counted as one of the 7 courses? Huh? Frankly this was not good. I was starting to worry a little. And by now I also noticed that a few others were having the tasting menu and oddly all our stuff came out at the same time despite being seated at different times.
Next up was the hamachi sashimi
This was good, didn’t need the assortment on the good fish. Much fresher than the previous course. However, now I’m getting really suspicious of the service as everyone’s hamachi came out at the same time… I had been waiting for a bit for mine, and they cocked up the wine service already.
I know staff gets dispirited near a closing, but this is exactly the opposite from how L2O is handling it, especially the FOH staff. It was a prolonged wait for the next dish too, the scallop.
Again, nothing special, the gnocchi provided a little bit of interest here. The scallop did not have the sweetness of the ones I’ve had recently, but I guess I’ve been spoiled by Japan and Norway… Sigh… And again the wine service was off-synch…
I actually then mentioned to my server on why my dishes were coming out at the same time as 2 other multi-member parties. I know it simplifies the kitchen work, but it’s a little unprofessional in a generally a la carte restaurant. He denied this was happening but then the next dish came out in a flash…go figure…
The next was the star of the night, the pork belly bun. They said to make this as an open-faced sandwich and it worked great. Excellent flavour and texture of the pork belly with solid manto-style bun. Mustard didn’t taste that great though…
Good dish but I am souring very quickly on this meal. The final savoury course was one of their classic dishes, the chicken in clay pot.
Not bad, filling. The flavours were just starting to soak into the mushrooms. Thank goodness it came out in a reasonable time (un-tied to the other tables doing tasting menus). I finished it and was just looking to call it a day…
The final course was a egg custard dessert with a nice macaroon. Cute, pretty tasty. Actually the best course next to the pork belly. The service was still a mess so I just decided to get out of there.
As I walked back to the El, the thought I had was why I stopped dropping into the place when I have been in Chicago the past few years, and I answered my own question. The cooking is tired and ingredients not up to par, with confused service.
A little less sad tonight than 2 nights ago, a bit more annoyed. Oh well, I wish them well. And again, for what it’s worth…
1952 North Damen Avenue