The other day I had the chance to go to an exclusive tasting dinner at McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant. Little did I know that I'd be one of only eight people to experience an off-the-menu, wine-paired dinner with six courses!! In honor of National Seafood Month and McCormick & Schmick's Perfect Combination menu special, I was invited as a ChicagoNow blogger along with a guest (the bf Andrew came) to experience the delicious delicacies created by the six McCormick and Schmick's chefs in the Chicagoland area.
When we arrived at the restaurant we were shown to a private dining area upstairs, offered sake and ginger martinis and led to a table in front of a warm fireplace. First we had the opportunity to try an array of sushi and sashimi like spicy tuna, tempura lobster and rainbow rolls, as well as super white tuna, regular tuna, and salmon. All were absolutely amazing and later I wished I hadn't tried them all because the food just kept coming!
Each course was presented by a different chef who had created the dish especially for that night. All of the dishes were based off of items offered on the regular menu but were all exclusive to this dinner.
After the sushi we tried oysters three different ways. Andrew had never tried oysters before and I was super surprised. He has to be the least picky eater I know and spent a semester in France trying all sorts of different foods. One oyster was baked with garlic butter with smoked fluer de sel; one was a fried oyster Rockefeller with hollandaise sauce; and the last was a raw oyster on the half shell with Champagne mignonette. My favorite was actually the raw oyster; the sauce it was served in made it taste a little bit like ceviche, which I love!
Next was a shellfish course. The competitors were a seared scallop with butternut squash risotto, spiced cider glaze and finished with fried leeks; and a Creole glazed shrimp with cauliflower puree and fried paulina smoked bacon. Honestly both were so amazing I couldn't chose between them. Everyone who reads my blog knows that I love bacon, but some of you may not know I like butternut squash just as much!
Feeling a little bit full we moved onto the fish course. Wild salmon with asparagus sald and carrot ginger coulis was my runner up because the other fish was my favorite part of the entire night. Seared walleye with a phyllo purse filled with wild mushrooms, figs and goat cheese took the cake. Normally I HATE mushrooms, but this dish alone might have changed my mind. In fact I can't wait to try and prepare mushrooms myself and see if I really do like them...minus the other amazing ingredients that came with the walleye. At the end of the dinner I asked the chef how the walleye was prepared, so perhaps I could attempt myself to make it in my kitchen and I was surprised to learn the simple preparation behind the mind-blowing flavor. Salt and pepper, and seared nicely on each side was basically all one has to do to prepare this dish! I'll let you know how my attempt goes!
The last entrée of the night was a beef pairing. Seared beef tenderloin with black river blue cheese potato gratin and a demi glace was served alongside sliced strip steak with roasted brussels sprouts, fried onions and white truffle oil. I had a hard time deciding on my favorite between these two as well, but anything with truffle oil will basically bring me to my knees so I had to go with the strip steak. Both meats were cooked absolutely perfectly and melted in my mouth!
To finish off the night, before the food coma began, we were served a chocolate parfait with fresh berries and pumpkin brioche bread pudding with brandy caramel sauce and Homer's vanilla bean ice cream. As I'm not a huge chocolate lover, my favorite was the bread pudding. But that might be a little biased as I'm also a huge fan of anything with pumpkin and caramel.
We left the restaurant feeling stuffed to the gills along with "goody bags"! I absolutely cannot wait to go into McCormick and Schmick's again! Everyone was extremely welcoming and we were waited on, hand and foot. If the main restaurant has the kind of service that we were showed that night I'd have to say it's the best service I've had anywhere in Chicago, which is saying a lot!