ARW Day 2: Foreign & Domestic

18 Oct

Foreign & Domestic, do you like us? Check yes, no, or maybe because Two Chicks likes you… we, like you, like you. Both of us agreed F&D is our new de facto foodie crush. Just thinking about them makes A unbelievably giddy; she’s been daydreaming during work and doodling their name in her Trapper Keeper with a glitter pen.

The restaurant is what one might call cozy; located in the cool but unpretentious North Loop neighborhood, it’s housed in a small stone building with an even smaller gravel patio area. B lives walking distance from it and watched the owners move in and overhaul the previously abandoned building. The inside is light, airy and modern, with a warmth generated from a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and candles throughout. Arriving a little before 6:30pm on a weeknight during Restaurant Week, we weren’t able to secure a table but were happily steered toward two seats at the counter. Normally we would balk at not having a real table, but the counter was a blessing in disguise. We had a full view of the kitchen and saw our meal prepared from start to finish. We have no doubt that, had it not been so busy, we could have enjoyed some great conversation with the chef-owner. As it was, one of them did overhear part of our conversation and jumped in with the name of a Bon Appetit writer that had escaped me at that moment. Interactive dining, hooray!

What We Ate:

A side
B and I both opted for the crispy beef tongue appetizer and I for one loved it. Tongue can be tough if not cooked correctly, but this was perfect. It had a nice crispy sear on the outside and was wonderfully tender on the inside. Also on the plate was a small salad of greens, radishes and pickled red onions. Seeing as I love all things pickled, I thought the onions were a great touch. There was a lovely sauce of yogurt, mint and horseradish that, when paired with the tongue and a little of the salad, made my mouth happy. The greens and the sauce had a wonderful freshness and lightness that complemented the meatiness of the tongue.

Third coast fish -- does that mean it's sippin' on the sizzurup?

For entrees, we decided to go our own way (am I the only one flashing back to 1977 Fleetwood Mac?) and I ordered the third coast fish, which exceeded my expectations and then some. It was a good-sized fillet topped with a delicious tomato jam. What I thought might be too sweet actually offered more tang and acidity, and I craved more of it. The mild whitefish was a perfect palette for the flavors to sing; it sat atop a potato puree and was soaking in a delightful corn cob broth. I almost tipped the bowl to my lips to drink the remaining broth, but I didn’t want to elbow the diner to my right — plus, you know, I have some level of civility. Still, this meal nearly made me lose it (asking for a straw would’ve been acceptable, right?)

Delicious and leaves your breath minty fresh.

I ended with their blackout cake – a moist chocolate cake with caramel sauce, served with a scoop of mint chip ice cream. I don’t normally go for a mint chip primarily because the mint flavor always seems artificial and off somehow. But the mind chip at F&D was so surprisingly natural and minty that I’m convinced they make their own. It was like chewing a freshly picked mint leaf (can I say ‘mint’ one more time in this sentence?). In fact, the ice cream actually upstaged the cake, in my opinion; I would’ve been more than happy to have had two scoops of mint chip and another helping of conversation from the chef.

B side
What can I say about the beef tongue that hasn’t already been said? How one chef can coax so much flavor out of a cut of meat most commonly found on the discard pile, I’ll never know, but I’m forever grateful that the man anchoring F&D can.

Who knew tongue could be this sexy?

I can’t say beef tongue replaces pork belly on my list of deliciousness, but it’s right up there in the top five, which is amazing when you consider this was the first time I’d ever had it. Also on that list? F&D’s waygu short ribs, which I had for my entrée. Served with poached fennel and onions and some sort of gorgeous foam (what oh what were you, dear foam?), it packed all the punch of a meat dish without the heaviness. I wasn’t a complete fan of the way it was served – some sort of sauce was smeared along the plate, and its stickiness struck a wrong note with me – but really, that’s like bashing a talented author because you hate the book jacket. It’s really the words on the page that count.

Hot beef on a platter.

Our server offered me a knife, but it proved completely unnecessary; the short rib was fork tender and savory… literally, the stuff meat dreams are made of. And that sauce on the edge? Delicious as well.

For dessert, I got the innocuous-sounding yogurt sorbet, with dried cherries and dill syrup. Hellooooo nurse! I’d really anticipated a basic sorbet, nothing to write home about, but what came out of the kitchen taught me to never assume a chef has phoned it in because the word ‘sorbet’ is on his menu. Two perfectly round scoops of creamy goodness were placed before me, decorated with a crunchy sesame cracker. It wasn’t much by itself, but when used as a scoop, it really transformed the dish. The sorbet was refreshing, milky and smooth, and the dried cherries puckered my lips just enough to wake me up. The surprise star was the dill syrup, something I’d never heard of until this meal. Several bright green droplets painted the creamy white landscape, and when I got a pop of dill along with the sorbet and the cherries, the tang jolted me and made me instantly smile. Who knew yogurt could be so damned complex? I didn’t envy A and her mint chip ice cream one bit.

Final Grade:

A – Fork waaaaaaay up for me. F & D + A = Luv 4 Eva!!
B – I can’t just give this one fork up. This place makes me want to break into my neighbor’s house and steal their silverware so I can show some serious fork love.

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One Response to “ARW Day 2: Foreign & Domestic”

  1. Vicki O'Hara October 18, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    love your blog

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