Tru: A report

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by mezzaluna, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    My husband and I were lucky to spend the evening with Nicko and Colleen at Rick Tramanto and Gale Gand's restaurant in Chicago last evening. Nicko had heard a lot, and I had visited their site, but our culinary curiosity and appetites were whetted and ready when we stepped into their understated lobby at 8 p.m. It was simply decorated with glass vases of glowingly perfect kumquats providing color in lighted niches.

    We were treated like dignitaries at every turn. Seated on the banquettes near the bar, we enjoyed some excellent Belgian and Alsatian beers before dinner. A few minutes later, we were seated in the dining room and the main event began.

    The chef had four tasting menus available that evening: one completely vegetarian; another nicely balanced with meat, fish and vegetables; a third all seafood collection; and a fourth which the chef prepares extemporaneously. Besides the collections, there is also a prix fixe menu with choices for each of three courses: appetizer, main course and dessert. We opted for the prix fixe menu at $80 per person.

    We started with a tiny pate a choux pastry stuffed with goat cheese filling as an amuse bouche. The chef recently released a book of these tiny delights, so it was no surprise that we were treated to one.

    The sommelier was consulted, and a nice red brought to our table based on our selections of main courses.

    For starters, Colleen enjoyed the impressive signature caviar staircase (I have forgotten which caviar she chose). 8 or so glass blocks form a glittering, pale green glass staircase, with the selected caviar at the top step and accompaniments below. I started with butter-poached lobster in black truffle risotto, which was perfectly al dente, liberally sprinkled with shreds of black truffle and studded with a lobster claw and plenty of meat. My husband enjoyed lamb ravioli with a duck broth; Nicko had the deconstucted steak tartar.

    Before the main course could arrive, we enjoyed a foursome of tastes: blue potato puree with creme fraiche; a rigatoni filled with sage and ricotta; octopus with fingerling tomatoes on an oven-dried tomato slice and a glass of cranberry juice infused with sage. An unexpected delight, that.

    Even more unexpected was a second appetizer, delivered compliments of the chef. I had never tasted truffles au naturel and not mixed in a dish, so I was particularly excited when a plate of gnocchi with a creamy cheese sauce was set before me, followed by generous shavings of white truffles! The aroma was intoxicating, the flavor divine. (Sorry for the trite adjectives, but that was how it was!) The gnocchi were feathery as they should be.

    All during the meal we were tempted with rolls and biscuits of all kinds. I enjoyed an anise-raisin roll; we were also offered tiny biscuits, dark pumpernickel, whole grain and a couple of other choices.

    The main courses arrived next. I chose veal tenderloin simmered in olive oil (no hint of oiliness at all- just beautifully pink and tender meat), with frisee and truffle; my husband and Colleen had beef combinations, with tournedos and a beef cheek ravioli. When one slice of my husband's tenderloin tumbled off his plate, the server was quick to bring a beautifully braised beef short rib to console him. Nicko had lamb chops, and I will let him have the pleasure of describing them.

    Dessert.... what an agony of choices! I settled on the melted chocolate tart. It came in a chocolate shortbread crust with strawberries alongside and what I thought was chocolate syrup. What a wonderful surprise to find it was excellent balsamic vinegar! Looking carefully at it, Nicko pronounced "it must be the GOOD stuff!" and indeed it was- sweet, full-bodied and luscious with those strawberries. Unfortunately, I was too full to eat more than half of the tart.

    But the meal was not over.... the server wheeled over a cart with about 12 of Chef Gand's "Just A Bite" desserts: cookies, lollipops, cakes... I settled on an orange and herb flower lollipop. My husband enjoyed an amaretto truffle (which are also for sale, $24 for 18 of them).

    At last, at about 11, we trundled out into the cold streets of Chicago with an unforgettable meal in our stomachs.

    I can't possibly remember all of the flavors, but I will never forget that evening of great company, remarkable food and top-flight service.

    Here is Tru's site: http://www.trurestaurant.com
     
  2. cajunjoe

    cajunjoe

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    I had the greatest of experiences at Tru. I was fortunate to have worked in the kitchen for a short period. Although I've only been cooking for a short time, I have never been so overwhelmed by the skill and passion for food. I learned more about food there than I did throughout culinary school and 3 years at restaurants. I am inarticulate in describing how well the kitchen loves their job and the very essence of food. CHEERS TO THE GREATEST TEAM IN CHICAGO !
     
  3. suzanne

    suzanne

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    WOW! Thanks for the account, Mezz! Sounds like all the praise for Tru is definitely warranted! I hope Nicko can find the time SOON to complete his part of the story. :bounce:

    What did the "blue potato puree with creme fraiche" look like? Was it kind of periwinkle, or some other shade? ;) And if you can say anything more about that cranberry juice ... :lips:

    I'd better go eat some breakfast now. Oh, darn, I'm all out of truffles. Guess I'll just have to eat some cereal. :D
     
  4. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Mezz,

    What a great review!!!

    I'm glad you all had a wonderful time together and a great meal to boot.
     
  5. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Considering you hadn't written any of that down, you have a great memory, Mezz.! The cranberry juice must have been one of the more memorable flavors. And I would have loved to see that dessert cart. All in all, it sounds like a perfect meal.
     
  6. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Believe me, Momo, that cart was phenomenal. Everything fit her "just a bite" philosophy- two bites at most. The warm chocolate tart was absolutely the best chocolate dessert I have ever tasted in my life. Whatever chocolate Chef Gand used, I gotta have it! Her book is next on my list of purchases.

    Cajunjoe, what a great experience you had! If the kitchen was anything like the job done by the FOH staff, it must be nirvana for chefs. What station(s) did you work?
     
  7. cajunjoe

    cajunjoe

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    Mezzaluna,
    I was in Garde Manger, one of four. One for amuse bouche, two for garde manger, one roundsman (covering days off and keep in mind there is a private dining and semi-private so in addition to res, we frequently did anywhere from 40 to 70 in addition, usually a separate private menu). Also part of G.M. was the soup and risotto guy. Three on meat side, protein, meat veg and meat sauce. three on seafood, one hot side roundsman and one co-ordinator, usually the chef de cuisine. Mark is undoubtedly the most talented sous chef that I may ever encounter. There is and A.M. sous and an assistant, then there is five in pastry, not including Chef Gale Gand and Chef Rick Tramonto. I had heard that in all there is approximately eighty staff at the restaurant. Next time, you get to visit, be sure to res the chef's table or at the very least get a tour from your captain. With a bit of luck you may get to spank the piggy.:chef:
     
  8. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Yow! Sounds like something I'd like to do!! When I have a spare few hundred dollars lying around, I'll take them to Tru. :bounce:

    80 staff in the place!! No wonder the level of service was superior. I have no idea how that proportion of people compares to the real world, but I'm betting it's the exception rather than the rule.

    I'm guessing that to get the chef's table, you'd either have to be a regular, a heavy hitter (someone famous), or would be ordering the $135/person chef's menu where Chef Tramanto improvises the meal for the table.
     
  9. cajunjoe

    cajunjoe

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    I've forgotten what the exact cost was, but the kitchen table can accomodate from 2 to 6 or so. It was in the $135 to $150 range per person. And yes of course, mind you that every fifth table or so was vip. It was normal for vip*vip* to show up frequently and yes special dishes/menus were created for them.

    Some of my fondest memories from there, were being able to contribute to such impromptu creations.

    So, you've enjoyed it from the front, you should try it first hand.
    If even for a day.

    It was not uncommon for 2 to 3 people try out for my position each week. I miss that everyday challenge of having to earn my position everyday.