Shortly before I left Chicago, I had the pleasure of dining at Chalkboard, a slightly upscale restaurant focused on local, sustainable comfort food. Fair warning–the photos do not do the food justice. I was en route to a wicked cold during this dinner, and sort of crapped out on good photography. I had been wanting to dine here for a while, especially when I learned that there was literally a chalkboard in the dining room that listed the specials, which change daily. Holla. We started off with their scallops, one of the only mainstays on the menu. It had seared dry pack scallops, sugar cured Kalamata olives, vanilla bean “mayo”, pumpkin oil, sage and roasted walnuts.
This…was an interesting dish. First off, it definitely had the most “risky” flavor combinations on the menu, and you have to admire the restaurant for trying. Two people at the table loved this dish. While the scallops were beautifully seared, for me, the vanilla and olives just didn’t work. I’d be really interested to see this dish regularly on the menu with a series of changing sauces. The scallops alone were worth it–big and juicy. We also went for their housemade pate, which was chicken liver that day. I’m a whore for pate, and this dish won me over.
This was a more coarsely ground pate, which is okay, but not my favorite. I like it nice and smooth, nary a real piece of liver visable to the eye! We also had to try their mussels, which were delicious. The white wine broth was warm and comforting for the cold day we were eating on.
One fellow diner went with the steak (I want to say it was a ribeye, but I could be wrong). I really enjoyed this–a great winter dish.
I convinced another diner to get the fried chicken, because I wanted to try it too. It was their famous southern fried chicken – Chef Gilberts’s recipe of airline chicken breast, with sauteed collard greens, buttermilk mashed potatoes and white sausage gravy. Hot damn.
First off, I love love LOVE airline chicken breasts, which is basically the breast with the wing bone still attached. This helps keep the breast moist and juicy, and I always try to use this cut when cooking chicken breasts. Second–hot damn, is this good fried chicken! For reals. Comfort food is clearly where Chalkboard shines. I went with a fish dish of the day, which was an Indiana trout with house-cured bacon and pickled peppers. This was a great dish–I love the combination of the light trout with the rich burst of bacon, and the house pickled peppers? I’m a sucker for homemade pickles.
This dish highlights what I feel this restaurant does best–local food prepared simply with gourmet touches (house-cured bacon was AWESOME). Adam went with the shallot and pork belly risotto, which was rich, warm and filling.
Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Chalkboard. I would definitely go back, but I would stick to the comfort foods and avoid the fancy dishes like the scallop appetizer. Hot damn, they make a good fried chicken. That is all I am saying. ~LTG! ****************************************** Chalkboard 4343 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60618 (773) 477-7144 www.chalkboardrestaurant.com