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maggiethecat

Maijean

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Chef/Owner Nadia Tilkian is making honest-to Dieu bistro food in the Western burbs, at Maijean near the tracks in Clarendon Hills. We ate there Tuesday night (a press freebie) and I can’t remember the last time I tasted “Country French” (as her press kit calls it) this inventive and plain tasty.

It’s a pretty room, decorated faux Art Nouveau (beautiful scrolling woodwork above the bar,) fireplace, twenty tables give or take. More Mucha fantasy than bar zinc, I’m sure they’re booked solid with Valentine’s Day diners.

Amuses were a shooter of Granny Smith soup, with partly melted globs of Pont L’Eveque therein. Apples and cheese are one of my favorite food combos, and I loved it. Catherine and Mr. Mike passed canapés –a nicely presented chicken liver pate and a mouthful of Chef Tilkian’s velvety house cured salmon.

The first course was the one I’d been dreading because, well, I don’t like scallops. Billed as citrus crusted salmon with baby fennel salad and citrus fennel broth, we received three fat crispy scallops in a pale green fragrant sea. The scallops were nicely crispy, and I ate two without my usual scallop gag-reflex. Then I grabbed my soup spoon and lapped up the broth. I damn near picked up the bowl and licked it.

The salad was a bistro classic Lyonnaise: frisee. Belgian endive, croutons, lardons, fingerlings, poached egg and warm sherry vinaigrette. Never discount the pleasure of breaking the yolk of a poached egg over a dish of greens, potatoes and pork. The vinaigrette sang, and I remember thinking: “I can do this. Why don’t I? It’s a perfect lunch.”

My husband announced that he couldn’t eat another bite, and offered his main to the wait staff. They said “No, no. no, you have to try this” and wrapped up his “Bunny to Go.” Roast rabbit is a gutsy choice for a media dinner, and I applauded the decision to serve it rather than, say her steak frites. I’ve only ever eaten rabbit braised, and I found the roasted version tasty but, well, chewy. It was served over a puddle of the best polenta ever to pass my lips – it included bacon, brilliant green favas, artichokes and (real) baby carrots. The white wine/rabbit jus was as good as the scallop broth.

Dessert was an individual apple tart, garnished with a disk of dried apple and a dab of Danish blue ice cream. The actual pastry was ho hum, but the ice cream and apple combo was so good I beat the edge of my plate with my fork. I did mention I love apples and cheese, right?

The garnishes are pretty, the stemware and china would be right at home in a three star joint, and I can’t remember any annoying music, which is always a blessing. Starters range in price from 8 to 12 bucks, mains from 18 to 32. Maijean deserves to be right up there in “The Best of the Burbs.”

Maijean

30 N. Prospect

Clarendon Hills, IL

630 794.8900


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I've been reading good and bad about Maijean. Anyone been lately?


"the only thing we knew for sure about henry porter was that his name wasn't henry porter" : bob

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We went about a month ago, and had a wonderful dinner. The food was delicious and expertly prepared across the board. The service was sincere but maddeningly slow. I think the kitchen was slammed on a Saturday night during the dinner rush. Nevertheless, we had plenty to drink and were able to spend lots of time with some friends we hadn't seen in a long time. The chef's father (and maitre d') came to our table toward the end of our evening and was quite friendly and forthcoming about the pride he felt about his daughter. It's good to see nice people doing well.

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Chef's Dad is a real and I mean real, charmer. I asked about where we could find excellent Lebanese food in Chicago, and the server cocked her thumb and said: "Ask him. He's at the bar." Dad was forthcoming and educational, and so proud of his daughter, whom I think of as Chicago's Gabrielle Hamilton. Or Melissa Kelly. Get into your car, brave the expressways and go: Chef Nadia is cooking with some soul.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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