I have the good fortune to see Chicago theatre several nights a week. I’m always on the hunt for a preshow bite that is tasty and inexpensive. Recently, I was asked to check out the pre-fixe theatre menu at Bistronomic.
Chef Martial Noguier is offering a special sampling of his French influenced menu for early diners. For $30 ($40 with wine pairing), a guest will receive an appetizer, an entree and dessert. The prospect seemed to good to be true! The reality is I believe this is the best gourmet bargain in the city.
Ellen accompanied me to Bistronomic last night. We arrived for our 5:30 reservation. We opted for the patio. The alfresco section of the restaurant is surprisingly intimate for two blocks off Michigan Avenue. Oversized flower boxes provide a perfect barrier to the sidewalk. Our server Edy offered us both the pre-fixe menu, currently called the Bastille Day menu, and the more extensive menu. We focused on the pre-fixe one. We let Edy know that we needed to depart by 7pm to give us ample time for a 7:30 curtain.
The pre-fixe menu offered multiple choices in each category. Ellen and I decided to go splitzies to double our tasting experience. We started with the country pate & chicken liver mousse and the shaved salad. The pate and mousse came with garlic toast points and little baby pickles. Both were decadently delicious. The mousse was a creamy spread. It was light and pleasing to the palate. The pate paired perfectly with a pickle for a bite size burst of relish. We also had the shaved salad at Edy’s suggestion. It could be a meal in itself. The combination of flavors was this fascinating tangy (radishes) meets savory (fennel). All the ingredients were shaved and allowed for stacking ingredients. The other thinly textured items (carrots, red onion) were enhanced by orange segments and a carrot puree. The combination was a summer salad with sass.
For entrees, we went with Edy’s suggestion again and got the salmon and tuna. The presentations were impressive. The portion sizes were substantial. The tastes were delectable. The layered tuna was served with a pepper puree and a cilantro puree. Both made interesting dipping options for the succulent tuna. The salmon was served with tasty garlic ramps, carrots, peas and asparagus. There was a light sauce in the bottom of the dish. It had a sweetness that when spooned onto the salmon heightened the appeal. I’m particular finicky when it comes to salmon. If it’s too fishy or flaky, I won’t eat it. This salmon was moist and delicious. I gorged myself on the salmon and still didn’t finish it. Either dish on its own could have been a $30 entree. Yet, they were part of a three course $30 meal.
We topped our experience by ordering both dessert options: Baked Alaska and chocolate-peanut butter bars. Again, the visual was eye candy. The Baked Alaska had this adorable wedge of toasted marshmallow peaks on top of ice cream and fruit. Meanwhile, the chocolate-peanut butter bars looked like oversize Twix bars. Both were a scrumptious finish to this mouth-watering, five star bargain.
The food was so ample despite our best efforts, we never completed any one item. Everything but dessert was bagged up for future mealS. In fact, Ellen skipped the play to take the food home. Although I would never recommend missing the show, I would highly recommend preshow dining at Bistronomic , 840 N. Wabash, conveniently located from choice theatre and these current offerings:
Lookingglass Theatre’s BIG LAKE BIG CITY - two blocks on foot
Goodman Theatre’s JUNGLE BOOK - two blocks to the Red Line, two stops south
Sideshow Theatre’s THE BURDEN OF NOT HAVING A TAIL - two blocks to the Chicago bus #66 to Chicago and Odgen and Milwaukee
The Artistic Home’s BEATEN - short cab ride to Grand and Noble