An Outsider’s View of Chicago, Pt. 2: Captivating Comestibles–Sepia

Posted: August 9, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Small portions are what I expected from the two out-of-budget restaurants we visited.  The wonderful thing about this is that I can really enjoy the flavor without feeling stuffed.  There is still plenty of food, and the nuances of each bite automatically slow me down to savoring speed.

The first upscale establishment was Sepia.  (Their website is beautiful.  When you click the link, make sure you have the sound on.  They have great music.) Their decor is rich and relaxing, an understated mix of the architectural and the artistic, the old and the new.  The blending of wood, stone, steel, and glass is evocative of what I’ve come to expect from Chicago’s skyscraper heritage.  The photographic elements appeal to me as much as to my photog husband.

Their menu is not expansive, but when you present food of this quality, it doesn’t need to be.  I know you are dying to hear what I consumed: sea scallops for starters, followed by the Lamb Loin and Crispy Lamb Neck, finishing with the strawberries and Basil-Black Pepper Ice Cream.

Sea scallops are one of my favorites.  It is amazing how much an ingredient can change depending on what it is combined with.  These were excellent, especially paired with the other elements in the dish.  One of these, the smoked paprika lardo, was a revelation in itself.  (Check out the menu to see the full description.)

I’m glad I went with the lamb for the main course.  The contrast of the two was very effective.  Surprisingly, I preferred the neck slightly over the loin.  I didn’t realize this until I took my last bite, loin, and realized I was disappointed not to have just a touch more of the crispy neck to finish on.  I discovered something else along the way.  My daughter had the Carnaroli Risotto, which she loved.  But it was accompanied by baby morels, which she did not.  I tried them—another first.  So much earthy flavor packed into such a tiny package.  I now have a favorite mushroom.

As for dessert, I don’t eat it often.  I love it; I’m just wary of empty calories, however deliciously packaged.  And, honestly, I’ve eaten enough really excellent desserts that most of the places I eat out at just don’t measure up.  I’m glad I broke my rule here.  The best part of the dessert was the ice cream.  I prefer rich or savory ice cream to sweet and this concoction was incredible.

The only other comment I have on Sepia is kudos to the staff.  The talent and ability of the chefs and kitchen staff is attested to by the amazing food.  Those at the front of the house were wonderful as well–cheerful, helpful without being intrusive, constantly on-point.  For the first time I realized how a really skilled waiter can raise the experience from nice to delightful.  Thanks to the people who do their job so well.  You are noticed and appreciated.

I hope this whets your appetite for your own visit to Chicago.  And if you are from the city or have visited, please share you favorite restaurants and dining experiences.  I’d love to hear from you.

  1. […] I’ve only afforded two the honor of “consummation.”  (The other was presented by Sepia.)  BNR’s scallop had a lovely buttery texture, sustained by a perfectly weighted sauce.  It […]

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