Return to Elizabeth: The late and wondrous bloom

Last week I went to Elizabeth again, on a whim. (The tickets were on sale, a real steal!)

I had the deer tasting menu again, but the experience was not the same.
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For starters, the chef, Iliana Regan has had a couple of seasons under her belt now to really define and refine her menus, so for the Spring Menu everything was just wonderful.

Let’s get started…

Chef Regan opened her menu with Ramps and Trout Roe
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Unfortunately what I remember of it is rather vague, but it was a good start to the meal.

Terrarium – Grandfather’s Farm
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There was actually a similar dish back in the Fall Deer Menu, which I thought was interesting but maybe didn’t taste that great as it was too dry/bitter/etc. However, this time around Chef Regan got it right. Within this terrarium she’s added some paste or gelee in to add moisture. In addition, the tastes are more balanced so that no flavor overpowers any other. The seaweed strips also add this extra flavor (umami?) to the plate.

Ham, Lichens and Fiddleheads
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I took so many photos of this one because it was so beautifully plated, which seems to be a theme throughout this menu. On the top left of the plate is proscuitto. Within the cannoli is a pork pate (i think it was pork pate, if not foie gras?) that tastes as good as foie gras.

Biscuits…
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Honey wheat biscuits warm , flaky and buttery

…with Veggies in Hay Butter, Rhubarb Jam, Cured Deer and Homemade Cheese
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Delicious bright radishes on the side to cleanse your palate after you slather your biscuit with butter, cheese, deer and jam. The rhubarb jam tasted fantastic.

And there’s always room for one more biscuit…
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I need to recreate this some time.

Shoots and Tubers, Artichoke, Halibut and Spring Aroma
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There was something jsut delightfully spring in this menu. Perhaps it was the aroma of the fresh flowers? Or perhaps it was the bring citrus flavors coming out in the dish. Or maybe it was the freshness and crispness of the artichokes? I’m not entirely sure, it just tasted like spring had finally decided to bloom (in my mouth). If I had to summarize this dish, I’d say it was like taking a walk through spring. Not the cold spring that’s been haunting Chicago for the last couple of months, but the warm breezy spring with lots of flowers in bloom.

Maplewood, Birch, and Dried Mushroom Tea
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If the previous dish was like taking a walk on a warm spring day. The above dish is like staying inside and drinking hot soup on a chillier but just as bright spring day. The puree here is delicious.
It’s been a rough sort of past month, but I do think things are getting better. I’m trying to get more perspective on life and just do things that bring me joy instead worrying so much about how things turn out. (I definitely inherited my mother’s anxiety.)

Wild Boar with Spring
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While the boar was cooked just right, what really stole the spotlight in this dish were the greens. They were so fresh and crisp that they just evoked spring. Overall, this dish was remarkably simple, but it was just so well done that I would pay for it (which I did).

Potato…
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and…

Twig round 2
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The twigs were better tasting this time around.

Rabbit and Nettles
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That white powder that looks kind of like cocaine is actually fat, and it’s kind of addicting like crack. You’ll want to spread it all over your food.

Wild Rice Crispy
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Includes curry flavored crispy and venison. Reminded me of those sweet and salty pretzels only with an extra kick in there.

1 Pill Makes You Larger x2
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The teacups are cute as always.

Acorn, Deer Heart, Morels and Wild Berries
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All the diners were at first apprehensive of the eating the deer hart (the red meat cubes). Upon closer inspection (and tasting), everybody realized it tasted like roast beef, just like the chef promised.

Homemade ricotta and beets
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Palate cleanser, cheese and fruit plate all in one. One minty sorbet (although I can’t remember if it was actually mint), some ricotta and fresh fresh beets.

And dessert… this might be one of my favorite desserts of all time…

Chocolate, Violet and Mushroom
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It was decadent, yet light. A nice guilty, guiltless dirty refreshing pleasure. The meringue mushrooms were also very playful.

One last thought…

A Bite From The Woods
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some fruit gelee.

And that finishes off the menu of the spring at Elizabeth.

This month has been moving pretty fast. This weekend I’ll be in LA for a fancy-smancy wedding. And then, the month’s almost over!

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