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Eating Roland Liccioni's food

This weekend Heidi and I went to Chicago and, among other things, ate at Le Francais restaurant in Wheeling. We were looking forward to it because of all the good press it's gotten from those in the know.

I'm not a restaurant critic, but I love to eat, and I loved this food. Well, almost all of it. We had the chef's tasting menu, and my favorite course was the fish: daurade with roasted endive, wild mushrooms and blanquette sauce. Don't ask me what the blanquette sauce was made with. All I remember was that it was delicious and went well with the fish. Daurade (go here and scroll down to see what this fish looks like) tasted a lot like red snapper, as our waiter had warned us. It had white flesh that held together well, was a little more flaky than sea bass but less flaky than cod, and had just an itty-bitty hint of "fishyness." In my opinion, it was fantastic. Best course of the night.

The sautéed scallop was also great, as was the duo of sautéed sweetbreads and dry aged ribeye. Several of the courses featured black truffles, which were as decadent as they sound. The portions were reasonable, and I didn't feel too full at the end of the meal. I liked everything, but I've decided I'm not a huge fan of foie gras. Liccioni served it two ways last night: cold, on toast with a super-cute tiny pickle, and sautéed, with abalone mushrooms and port wine sauce. Yummy, sure; but knowing what they have to do to make foie gras, I'd be perfectly happy if I never had the chance to eat it again. I suppose I'm on the Trotter side of the Tramonto/Trotter foie gras war.

One of the most spectacular parts of the meal was the wine. Since I was driving, Heidi ordered the wine pairing with her meal (and I snuck tastes). Each wine was stellar in itself and especially with the food it was paired with. But one of the wines counts as among the best I've ever had anywhere. It was a South African dessert wine, a riesling with a bit of noble rot, and it blew me away.

Our menu:


  • Liquid truffle ravioli and cold foie gras on toast with french caviar and cauliflower espuma [foam]

  • Sautéed scallops with mitonnée ~ Vietnamese style, tempura of squash and cilantro vinaigrette

  • Daurade with roasted endive, wild mushrooms and blanquette sauce

  • Sautéed foie gras with blood orange, abalone mushroom and port wine sauce

  • Duo of sauteed sweetbreads and dry aged ribeye

  • Cheese course

  • Assortment of desserts [chocolate soufflé, lemongrass creme brûlée, panna cotta, and hazlenut cake]

One of my favorite meals ever!

Comments

glorfindel - sounds glorious. thanks for the report!

most curious about the liquid truffle ravioli - sounds devine.

re: blanquette sauce. if traditional, it is a decadent sauce thickened with butter, cream and egg - with a touch of citrus (usually lemon juice) and sometimes white wine. YUM!

any recollections on what showed up on the cheese trolley?

u.e.

Yup; that's about right on the blanquette sauce. Thanks!

The cheese course was:

  • robiola (blend of sheep/cow/goat with a brie-like texture)
  • An extremely pungent, semi-soft cow's milk cheese
  • Another cow's milk cheese that was a bit firmer than brie. It didn't stand out.

Apart from the lack of variety, the cheeses were all good. They were served with grapes and a delicious bit of grated apple (stringy like spaghetti squash).

I forget are sweetbreads thymus or pancreas? I'm not sure which would be better a large bolus of T-lymphocytes or a little pancreatic lipase.

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