Dead Russian poets and mother peach provide dinner and dessert

So before we headed off for a weekend in Chicago, we did a few things. One of them was to go and have a full body massage at L’institut Sothys. Both Ray and I had the Hanakasumi Ritual, which involved lots of body butter. It was absolutely relaxing. I can definitely see why rich people do massages, facials, and the whole spa she-bang. It was definitely one of those things that felt so luxurious that I felt really really guilty about.

But before the whole spa indulgence we went to Ma Peche located in midtown west. Ma Peche is part of the Momofuku family owned by David Chang. It’s different than the other restaurants in that Ma Peche provides large format dining, which means they’ll serve you entire pigs for a group of you to eat.

Compared to Momofuku Noodlebar, Ma Peche is a lot swankier and it feels that way too. But, more importantly, the food was quite good.
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The flavor pairings were innovative but balanced just right such that it left us licking the bones wanting more.

Since we were on a little bit of a time crunch before our appointments at Sothys, we opted for four small plates.

Wagyu(lincoln, ne) – jerky, fava beans, béarnaise
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Photo Jul 26, 5 53 48 PM
As you can see, it was more like a wagyu tartare. It was a pretty good pairing with the fava beans. The jerky added texture to the dish.

Foie gras (hudson valley, ny) – sarsaparilla, malt, brioche
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Photo Jul 26, 5 53 29 PM
This was really fantastic. The sweet and the savory really paired well.

Quail (springfield, vt) – corn, peppers, basil
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Not as intimidating as the squab we had at Naha. However, it was quite juicy, right down to the bone.

Steamed bun – lobster, maitake, chicharrón
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So yummy that Ray didn’t even mind the maitake.

The only thing that wasn’t extremely delicious was probably the drinks. The weren’t bad per se, but more just interesting. They kind of reminded me of the drink pairings that they do at Next.
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We got a coconut drink. Taste-wise it was fine, the texture just ended up being a bit chalky.

To finish the evening off (and to escape the rain after our massages), we had some pirojki and dessert at Brasserie Pushkin. Brasserie Pushkin was probably more visually exciting than tasty.

The ambience and the decor evoked Russian luxury during the Tzars. Did I mention that all of the wait staff was super attractive? They could have been models. There was even a waitress wearing heels (probably for the entire night), which takes some steel.

The pirojkis
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Photo Jul 26, 8 27 22 PM
Really cute, but not that tasty unfortunately.

Dessert was quite a show. We ordered some creme brulee and the medovichok, which was like a tiramisu.

Medovichok
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Photo Jul 26, 8 42 39 PM
In my opinion it was probably the more tasty of the two desserts.

The creme brulee was something visually special. The waiter also told a cute but specious story about the invention of creme brulee.
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Photo Jul 26, 8 42 13 PM
According to the waiter, in celebration of his victory in Egypt, Napoleon ordered a feast for his men. For dessert, he asked for his favorite, custard. Well, during dessert, fireworks were launched and the haphazardly fell into his custard, lighting it on fire. Horrified, the chefs apologized to Napoleon, but surprisingly, none was needed. He loved it. Thus, creme brulee came into existence.

So of course, the creme brulee was quite a show with its brulee sugar dome.
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Photo Jul 26, 8 43 07 PM
But with the added vodka for the pyrotechnics, it was a tad too boozy for my tastes.

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