Snacks On Snacks – Part I

12 Jun

Bon Soiree is getting a lot of good press.  And I think the press is fair.  Overall, the food is very good.

Bon Soiree is perfectly Logan Square-neighborhood appropriate – it’s a hipster, uber-downplayed, no sign on the door kind of place.When you walk in, you walk into the middle of the restaurant.  (It is a very small space – 5 tables or so.)  Someone from the front of the house steps around this curved wall of minimal flower arrangements and insinuates that you can sit anywhere (a Schwa inspired gesture, no doubt), but you are encouraged in the direction of a table that was actually reserved for you.  The restaurant is quiet and calm.  Nothing flashy.  Mostly mauve and gray and white.

Bon Soiree is BYOB – you can read about suggested pairings for the evening on their website in advance, which is nice.  We brought along a Masi Costasera, a delicious, rich Amarone wine from Valpolicella (a gift from our wine-and-food-loving friend Kate).There is no menu.  And your server doesn’t really speak to you, except to open your wine and describe the dishes as they are brought out.  The staff is attentive, however, in that plates are cleared in a timely, but not hurried, way and the dishes are nicely spaced so you have time to think about what you just ate, enjoy your wine and then begin again.

Our first course was an oyster.  The oyster was on a bed of sea salt and topped with caviar (missed what kind – Beluga, I think) and “faux-roe” – tiny green and orange balls made of concentrated orange and fennel.  I don’t typically do oysters (that intense salty ocean flavor reminds me of drowning) but this one was mild and the orange and fennel accented the salt nicely.  When I see an oyster, I automatically think “down the hatch” – is it just me (or maybe I’ve heard Abe say that)?Next we had a deep-fried soft-shelled crab topped with “smokey foam.”  The crab came with a shaved asparagus and quail egg salad and an asparagus puree with shiitake (maybe?) mushrooms.  This was a great dish.  The soft-shelled crab was crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside.  And perfectly salted.  The smokey foam gave it an extra little something, too.  You can never go wrong with an asparagus salad with a runny quail egg – rich but also light and crispy.  The bite of asparagus puree with mushrooms was delicious, and especially so with our wine.The next course was a “veal raviolo” (only there were two, so it was actually ravioli, plural) with crispy leeks, tiny Suzette-style potatoes (think mini square croquettes of whipped potato along with cheese and egg for binding) and parsley and truffle oil.  The potatoes were amazing.  Probably my favorite little bite of the evening.  The ravioli were just OK.  The pasta itself was delicious – al dente and homemade for sure.  The filling, however, was a puree of veal (in meat ravioli I prefer texture – pulled or ground meat – over a filling that is pudding-like) and wasn’t salted at all.  The crispy leeks were a nice accompaniment.  They provided some texture, anyway, if you ate them with the ravioli.Our next – and final savory course (already?) – was a mini-pork belly bun with homemade kimchi and hoisin sauce.  The bun was sweet and soft.  The pork belly was well-cooked.  Not too fatty, very tender.  The kimchi was vinegary and contrasted nicely with the sweet hoisin sauce.  The presentation was cute, too, and you were instructed to eat the bun with your hands.  So that was fun.In between savory and sweet we were served two tiny scoops of habanero and lime (I think?) sorbet with micro Thai basil.  It was sweet and delicious but also one of the spiciest things I have ever tasted.  Our mouths were both freezing and on fire at the same time.  Very interesting sensation.Finally, our dessert was a mini-berry cobbler with vanilla bourbon ice cream.  The berries in the cobbler were fresh and lovely – white raspberries were the highlight.  The berry coulis around the plate was also very nice and the vanilla bourbon ice cream was perfect.  Pure vanilla with a light bourbon accent.  So good.And that was that.  If you are thinking the meal sounds nice but also like not enough food (So far we’ve just had snacks, right?  There was definitely no main course.), we agreed.  Please see Part II.  Tomorrow.

3 Responses to “Snacks On Snacks – Part I”

  1. Fabianne June 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    I love how much detail is packed into something bite-size that only lasts 30 seconds! And I also love your comment about oysters reminding you of drowning, haha! They remind me of nastiness.

  2. arianne1220 June 13, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    By pictures alone, the ravioli were immediately my favorite dish. But after hearing your opinion, the soft-shelled crab became my favorite dish, and the tiny potatoes sounded pretty amazing.
    I’m excited for part II, because I’m still hungry!

  3. Cindy June 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    I would never try an oyster shooter. It looks all gooey-ooey. :p

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