Chez Moi: A Culinary Tour of France in Chicago

Chez Moi: A Culinary Tour of France in Chicago
Photo credit: Jodie Jacobs

Chez Moi, an intimate French bistro in Lincoln Park transports guests to France in Chicago via their authentic menu, wine pairings and trappings–from the twinkling lights and dark wooden beams to the French posters and wall art.

The name, Chez Moi, literally translates to “My Place.” The chef and co-owner Dominique Tougne, who began cooking at age 14 in Paris while attending culinary school, has realized his dream with Chez Moi.

After 35 years of cooking in France and Chicago with a long stint at Bistro 110 from 1995 to 2011, Tougne says, “I’ve come home.”

We were there Thursday for a sneak preview of the fall menu–a time for simmering stews and civets that shout COMFORT or as the French may say “stick to your sides food.”

Instead of Mac and Cheese how about Tagliatelle Pasta with Dijon Mustard Sauce, a creamy polenta, or a Cassoulet?  The only thing better than Paris in the springtime…may just be Chez Moi in the fall.

“L’Automne is one of my favorite times of year in France” reminisces Chef/owner Tougne explaining that “The fall menu allows Chicagoans to experience a Harvest culinary tour of France without leaving home.”

The first stop on Tougne’s fall preview menu is Bourgogne (Burgundy), France.  In Bourgogne we tasted Tougne’s magnifique Pumpkin Soup (a staple on his menu since the Bistro 110 days). The soup was paired with a Crémant de Bourgogne.  Although many think dark red wines, when they think Burgundy, the Cremant de Bourgogne from the Burgundy region was a sparkling white, not unlike a champagne—which served as the perfect send off to our Tour de France.

The Croustillant de champignons au foie gras on the Fall Menu at Chez Moi

The Croustillant de champignons au foie gras on the Fall Menu at Chez Moi

Next up, Bordeaux. Ahhhhh Bordeaux, from the charming farmland style villages of Bourgogne to the more formal Bordeaux, where winemakers are known to don coats and ties to go to work.  It was here where we were treated to a lovely and tasty Croustillant de champignons au foie gras–translation “Mushroom Cigar. “The phyllo wrapped “Cigar” was filled with  Sautéed Wild Mushrooms, Parsley, Garlic, Shallots, Mascarpone, in a reduced red wine sauce–available on the Fall menu for $14.50. This was paired with a delightful Château Brulescailles–a glistening dark purple wine with an almost black center comprised of about 55% Merlot, a little under 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc and Malbec making up the balance.

Le Menu continues with a stop in Alsace, in the far north-eastern corner of France, and the birthplace of Chef Tourgne.  The food and wine of Alsace, a region graced with half-timbered, flower-laden villages, stands out from other French regions thanks to its strong Franco-Germanic influences.  The dish, we tasted was a Choucroute Alsacienne–a perfect compliment to Fall featuring a festival of sausages, knuckle of pork, choucroute, (similar to sauerkraut) paired with a  Domaine Charles Baur–not unlike a dry Riesling wine.

From Alsace le menu took us to Bretagne (Brittany) for dessert. Brittany, glorious Brittany with its, lace, music, landscape, and the sea, always the sea. What a delightful spot for dessert…and what a delightful dessert–a  Gâteau Breton (Brittany butter cake) with a wonderfully dense texture similar to shortbread, topped with a salty melted caramel sauce and paired with Cider–a perfect au revoir.

Information you need to know if you go…

Where: 2100 N. Halsted

When: Sunday-Thursday 5:00-10:00pm; Friday-Saturday 5:00-11:00pm; Saturday and Sunday Brunch 10:30am – 3:00pm

Reservations: (773) 871-2100 or online at Chez Moi

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