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Jon Dubrick

Jai Restaurant Chicago

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J”ai

Twelve Course

Mediterranean Salad

Duck, Thyme, Red Pepper Bean

House Cured Salmon, Tomato Gelee, Arugula, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Pork Cheek, Plum Puree, Spearmint

Shellfish Consommé, Lobster, Vacherin, Escarole

Turbot, Fennel, Bok Choy, Couscous, Blood Orange

Hickory Braised Short Rib, Pancetta Brussels Sprouts, Yuka, Chanterelle

Beef, Indian Curry, Basmati

Olive Cake, Dark Chocolate, Raw Sugar, Cocoa

Bing Cherry, Black Pearl, Vanilla

Date, Chocolate, Cassia Ice Cream, Almond Brittle

Katafi, Whipped Yogurt, Berry Compote, Lavender Honey

Med Salad is composed of a imported feta cube suspended and on each facet of the cube is powdered tomato, olive, pepppercinni, citrus, parlsey and caper, the cube by the guest is dopped onto powered extra virgin olive oil and then hit with a sherry mist(Basicslly its like a greek salad in one bite). That is the discription they will see on the menu, which is Med. Salad but I did a discription for you guys so you know whats going on. This menu will also be offered paired with wines. We also offer a six course which basically pulls off this menu. We also will be serving Absinthe the traditional way. Anybody have a line the correct serving piece?

So please rip apart the menu let me know what you think

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So please rip apart the menu let me know what you think

Tu as?

I couldn't possibly rip up (or praise) this menu without eating it.

BTW, what is "ths" - is this the name of your (some?) new resturant?


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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LOL you guys are to funny. Basically I just wanted some ideas of what you would think about the menu just as it looks. Boring......curious, does it sound exciting. Menu development starts in a week and I will be able to post pictures. More of the ceramics will be coming in this week so I have something to actually put the food on !!!

This is a upscale dining experience in a glass enlosed room in the kitchen with ten seats, with two seatings a night.

Pardon my spelling sometimes because I am in the kitchen at the same time

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Same here - I would need more description (or a mouthful) to know. They all look great, but depending on size, composition, etc., I would have no way of assessing this progression beyond hypothetical taste linkages. But overall impression...sounds interesting, but not 'out there.' My guess is that this would be a $75 tasting menu. Hope that helps.

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By virtue of your description of the Mediterranean Salad, I suspect that you are planting yourself in the creative or "technoemotional" camp as opposed to a more traditional approach. As others have said, the proof is in the pudding. The menu as written is certainly not a turn-off, though without the proper context, it is simply a set of words, albeit interesting ones. I would certainly not shy away from trying anything based on the descriptions. The lobster dish sounds unusual and I question what you really mean by "Indian curry." Good luck! I like the concept.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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These are the comments I am exactly looking for.

Appreciate all the ideas..keep them coming.

About the pricing...whats nice about being in a big culinary city. I can get 75 per person for my six course and 125 for the twelve not including wines. 100 with wines and 155 respectively for the twelve with wines.

gotta love it

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Alinea's 12 course tasting is $135, so you're putting yourself head-to-head. As someone who has had Alinea, if you are comparable then go for it! I would be making my reservation on my next trip. If you're not comparable, then...

But your question wasn't about pricing was it?

Part of Alinea's alure is its hype and legend. Seeing your menu - just as theirs, you use flavor components to describe the meal instead of detailed descriptions. That's fine, but I don't know that I would have gone to Alinea without ample hype to justify the cost based on their menu either.

(Seriously, just trying to be helpful).

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Alinea's 12 course tasting is $135, so you're putting yourself head-to-head.  As someone who has had Alinea, if you are comparable then go for it!  I would be making my reservation on my next trip.  If you're not comparable, then...

But your question wasn't about pricing was it?

Part of Alinea's alure is its hype and legend.  Seeing your menu - just as theirs, you use flavor components to describe the meal instead of detailed descriptions.  That's fine, but I don't know that I would have gone to Alinea without ample hype to justify the cost based on their menu either. 

(Seriously, just trying to be helpful).

For one..Grant is on a level of his own, would'nt, could'nt come close to him...He is a style of his own. On my side I have a very unique setting, a strong a drive as Grant or Michael Carlson and most important I have an awesome culinary staff wich I would be lost without. I would go head to head with anyone. The pr is in the works so yes you will hear about us soon enough, that half the battle..getting the hype up and backing it up with a good product.

I look forward to sharing my menu, restauarant development and anything else I feel would be worth sharing with all of you. I value your opinions for than anyones because we all do the same thing. Some of my staff are Alinea alumni and we all have worked are been around Michael, Grant and other chefs. You would so surprised at how many extremely talented chefs are around but dont get the chance to bee seen, heard or tasted. This is the one reason I opened this restaurant. This is for them. I am an unknown, except for some of the close chicago culinary groups, but we all know we are all very closing tied. Any of you are welcome at me kitchen, my doors are open and so will the reservation book. You will all have priority.

Ok...I am off my soap box. Let me know if there is anything else about me, my operation or my staff you would like to know. Our website is in our profile

Keep those comments coming

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OK let me criticise:

Overall I'd say not enough "small" courses to let the palate relax between the big hits. Not enough vegetables, and too much meat or fat. No salad course, no cheese course. It reads as though most is a soft texture with nothing crisp.

Twelve Course

What are people nibbling with the pre-dinner drinks?

Amuse 1: Mediterranean Salad

Ok but you might want to start with a palate cleanser; feta and oil is a bit too creamy. Maybe a citrus foam?

Aumuse 2: Duck, Thyme, Red Pepper Bean

Not enough description, but it sounds like a mini main course,

Conventioally here would be something like a terrine or pate or foie or even something in a wrapper, like peking duck variant

Fish starter: House Cured Salmon, Tomato Gelee, Arugula, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

OK, difficult for wine after the duck. Gewurz maybe?

Conventionally here would be oysters or shellfish.

I'd want a "small" course here, like a salad or a soup. Swap the order of the next two courses?

Meat starter: Pork Cheek, Plum Puree, Spearmint

More chinese influence, like the duck?

Soup: Shellfish Consommé, Lobster, Vacherin, Escarole

The vacherin is wasted here. Also reduce the fat and cream....

Fish: Turbot, Fennel, Bok Choy, Couscous, Blood Orange

Makes more sense if not immediately preceded by shellfish

I'd like a "small" couse here, maybe a sorbet or something crisp

Hickory Braised Short Rib, Pancetta Brussels Sprouts, Yuka, Chanterelle

Is this a main, or a small amuse? It could work as a small couse.

Main: Beef, Indian Curry, Basmati

Your centre piece is a curry??? You sure?

Firstly most people will look for a hunk of bloody protein here, like a steak, or lamb to cut at. Curries are long cooked, and wet.

Secondly beef and curry are culturally at odds (sacred cow!)

Thirdly curry is hard to do well, and properly needs many small side dishes

Fourthly curry is hell on the good wine, which I hooe your guests are drinking with the main course

Pud 1: Olive Cake, Dark Chocolate, Raw Sugar, Cocoa

Pud 2: Bing Cherry, Black Pearl, Vanilla

Pud 3: Date, Chocolate, Cassia Ice Cream, Almond Brittle

Pud 4: Katafi, Whipped Yogurt, Berry Compote, Lavender Honey

Four deserts, and no cheese? Its nice to have something to finish the good wine with.

Again need to alternate big and little courses. By the third desert I'd have given up with sugar overload.

Personally I'd swap one for good cheese and good bread/crackers

another for a miniature pre-desert, You could consider a savoury instead of one.

No coffee and petit four etc?

You need something at the end of the meal such as cheese and desert (fruit, petit four etc) to linger over with coffee, port or a good brandy, and in less enlightened days a good cigar.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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OK let me criticise:

Overall I'd say not enough "small" courses to let the palate relax between the big hits. Not enough vegetables, and too much meat or fat.

Twelve Course

What are people nibbling with the pre-dinner drinks?

Amuse 1: Mediterranean Salad

Ok but you might want to start with a palate cleanser; feta and oil is a bit too creamy. Maybe a citrus foam?

Aumuse 2: Duck, Thyme, Red Pepper Bean

Not enough description, but it sounds like a mini main course,

Conventioally here would be something like a  terrine or pate or foie or even something in a wrapper, like peking duck variant

Fish starter: House Cured Salmon, Tomato Gelee, Arugula, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

OK, difficult for wine after the duck. Gewurz maybe?

Conventionally here would be oysters or shellfish.

I'd want a "small" course here, like a salad or a soup. Swap the order of the next two courses?

Meat starter: Pork Cheek, Plum Puree, Spearmint

More chinese influence, like the duck?

Soup: Shellfish Consommé, Lobster, Vacherin, Escarole

The vacherin is wasted here. Also reduce the fat and cream....

Fish: Turbot, Fennel, Bok Choy, Couscous, Blood Orange

Makes more sense if not immediately preceded by shellfish

I'd like a "small" couse here, maybe a sorbet or something crisp

Hickory Braised Short Rib, Pancetta Brussels Sprouts, Yuka, Chanterelle

Is this a main, or a small amuse? It could work as a small couse.

Main: Beef, Indian Curry, Basmati

Your centre piece is a curry??? You sure?

Firstly most people will look for a hunk of bloody protein here, like a steak, or lamb to cut at. Curries are long cooked, and wet.

Secondly beef and curry are culturally at odds (sacred cow!)

Thirdly curry is hard to do well, and properly needs many small side dishes

Fourthly curry is hell on the good wine, which I hooe your guests are drinking with the main course

Pud 1: Olive Cake, Dark Chocolate, Raw Sugar, Cocoa

Pud 2: Bing Cherry, Black Pearl, Vanilla

Pud 3: Date, Chocolate, Cassia Ice Cream, Almond Brittle

Pud 4: Katafi, Whipped Yogurt, Berry Compote, Lavender Honey

Four deserts, and no cheese? Its nice to have something to finish the good wine with, or.

Again need to alternate big and little courses. By the third desert I'd have given up with sugar overload.

Personally I'd swap one for good cheese and good bread/crackers

another for a miniature pre-desert, You could consider a savoury instead of one.

No coffee and petit four etc?

You need something at the end of the meal  such as cheese and desert (fruit, petit four etc)  to linger over with coffee, port or a good brandy, and in less enlightened days a good cigar.

Jackal.

Very good points........

I need to look at that from another direction. Very good coments that make sense. I will for sure use your advise. Thank you

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Here's my reaction.

There is a trend in menus at top-shelf restaurants to describe dishes by listing primary ingredients, without indicating how they are cooked or presented. Two of our very best restaurants, both with names beginning with the letter "A", do this. The effect of these menus is that it's difficult to tell exactly how the dish will come out. I'm not claiming that this is a bad thing; on the contrary, when the dish arrives at the table, this can create a "eureka moment" in which it's always a surprise and not usually what you might have guessed by looking at the menu.

For example, take "Hickory Braised Short Rib, Pancetta Brussels Sprouts, Yuka, Chanterelle". This can be done so many ways, using the same description - short rib on the bone, or boneless, or shredded? Pancetta wrapped around the sprouts, or flat on the plate, or alternating slices? Chanterelles, sliced on the plate, or used in a sauce, or presented whole on top of the short rib? What the heck is yuka?

To me, though, the bottom line with such menu descriptions is that they don't really tell you what the dish looks like or tastes like. So, when you are asking about reactions, it's difficult for me to give any kind of reaction when the menu leaves so much to the imagination.

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Here's my reaction.

There is a trend in menus at top-shelf restaurants to describe dishes by listing primary ingredients, without indicating how they are cooked or presented.  Two of our very best restaurants, both with names beginning with the letter "A", do this.  The effect of these menus is that it's difficult to tell exactly how the dish will come out.  I'm not claiming that this is a bad thing; on the contrary, when the dish arrives at the table, this can create a "eureka moment" in which it's always a surprise and not usually what you might have guessed by looking at the menu.

For example, take "Hickory Braised Short Rib, Pancetta Brussels Sprouts, Yuka, Chanterelle".  This can be done so many ways, using the same description - short rib on the bone, or boneless, or shredded?  Pancetta wrapped around the sprouts, or flat on the plate, or alternating slices?  Chanterelles, sliced on the plate, or used in a sauce, or presented whole on top of the short rib?  What the heck is yuka?

To me, though, the bottom line with such menu descriptions is that they don't really tell you what the dish looks like or tastes like.  So, when you are asking about reactions, it's difficult for me to give any kind of reaction when the menu leaves so much to the imagination.

point taken thank you

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I think jackal has hit it head on, I also thought "where is the cheese?". An interesting presentation of cheese is very important I think. Too many soft courses find me wanting.

It does read a bit like Alinea's menu but I'm sure many other restaurants have the same verbage going.

Love the name J'ai- I find it bold, sexy, alluring, confident!

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  What the heck is yuka?

My guess is that it's supposed to be Yucca, as in a Yucca root.

My immediate reaction is that no one is going to be able to distinguish tastes by the end of the meat starter just because most every single one of your tastes are pretty heavy, pounding tastes, without any breaks:

feta, duck, salmon, pork cheek, vacherin, hickory, indian curry, then a whole load of sweet-sounding desserts. Just reading it, the turbot is the only break that your tastebuds get and eating this way not only wears on your tongue, but also makes you feel fuller quicker.

I understand where you're coming from, the progression of the meal seems to be following a normal, say 5 course meal of amuse, 2 starters, fish, meat, dessert, but in something as long as a 12-course menu, you've got to keep an eye of the pace of flavors, if you take a look at Alinea's 12 course tasting, you'll see that (and it's easy to see, just look at the bubbles) there's like meals within the meal.

I guess my suggestion is that it needs more vegetables, it needs more acid, and it needs way, way less protein. Of course I could be totally wrong, maybe somehow you've worked it out taste-wise that we just can't get by just looking at a menu

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I would think there's too many "dessert" like items (like others have said...not sure but I'm guessing the last 4 dishes are dessert style dishes just from the words). I personally think 3 at the most would be nice unless you scattered a couple of them in between heavier/savory courses.

Some have already mentioned doing a cheese course, so I think there's a perfect opportunity to switch out one of the last four courses with a cheese.

Are you planning on doing Amuses, Mignardises, Petit Fours, and Dessert Amuses for the 6 course and 12 course menus? ..or just a straight forward what you see is what you get type of tasting menu?

Bread Service? How's that going to be executed? if any.

Sounds like fun though..look forward to hearing more about it!


"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Jon-First off, congratulations on a very good website. I thought I'd learn a bit about you and the restaurant, so I went straight to your site. I like the fact that you have bios of your staff. In todays world, many of your customers will go to your site before they make their reservation. They want to read your menu to see if it suits their tastes, but I think they are also interested in learning about the people who create the food. As you change your tasting menu remember to update that information on your website. While I realize most restaurants only post 'sample' menus on their sites, I'd prefer to have the current tasting menu posted rather than see a 'Spring' tasting menu posted in October.

Certainly, the more feedback you get from a broad range of different perspectives will help you build a stronger restaurant. Sometimes I find myself in a discussion with other food writers about a particular restaurant. Owing I suppose to our intense nature, our group often gets too wrapped up in whether or not the foie gras was served 5 degrees too cold. We tend to forget that the ultimate judge of the food, the menu, the wines and the service-is the customer.

So with that introduction, I look at your menu from a bit of a different perspective-both as a food writer and a customer.

Is J'ai named after the intials of the names of the partners in the restaurant? Just a small question. It sounds as though it might be Asian in background but I note that your restaurant will be serving progressive American cuisine.

Will you only be offering the tasting menus or will you also offer an ala carte menu?

Your price of $155 for the twelve course tasting menu with wines is actually quite a good price. I wouldn't hesitate to pay that. While I'm not that familiar with the prices in your city, I am familiar with the dining scene in Las Vegas. A similar tasting menu with wines at one of the finer restaurants in Las Vegas would be around $200 or higher.

In general I think you've got an intriguing and fun menu. But I would caution you about getting overly adventurous with dishes that may not play within an overall cohesive theme. I think it's ok to experiment with different cuisines within a menu, but a tasting menu should be looked at in terms of creating an overall theme with a progression of tastes and textures that begins with the first course and then builds throughout the menu. Each course should compliment the previous course and play a part in the overall menu theme.

For example, you go from what sounds to be French in style-Shellfish Consomme, Lobster, Vacherin and Escarole, to what sounds as though it is French/MIddle Eastern/Asian-Turbot, Fennel, Bok Choy, Couscous, Blood Orange, to American-Hickory Braised Short Rib, Pancetta, Brussels Spourts, Yuka and Chanterelle. I'm not saying that different styles of cusine can't work together or that French style ingredients don't work in Middle Eastern dishes. But I'd just be careful to not get to out there with too many styles of cuisine because it tends to pull apart the overall theme of the menu.

Taking this issue a step further, be careful that you don't have too many competing tastes within each dish. For example, what does the Vacherin add to the Shellfish Consomme and Lobster dish? How is the Vacherin added to the dish? How is the Escarole prepared in the dish? Does the Escarole give a bitter accent to the dish?

On your printed menu, I'd add a description for the customers on how the ingredients in the dish are prepared. For example, is the "Hickory Braised Short Rib a short rib of beef or is the dish made with pork?

You list "Beef, Indian Curry, Basmati." As Doc mentioned in his post, what exactly is Indian Curry? Trust me, there are probably plenty of customers who may not know a darn thing about curry, so a bit more explanation on the menu would help. One last example, give your customers an explanation of what the "Black Pearl" is in the Bing Cherry dessert.

I'm sure you know that part of the key to carrying out this tasting menu is how it is presented and served to your customers. Make sure your servers are enthusiastic and believe in your food and that they can clearly explain each dish and how it is prepared to the customers.

I've now convinced myself to book a flight and come enjoy your menu. Good luck and keep us updated.

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Is J'ai named after the intials of the names of the partners in the restaurant?  Just a small question.  It sounds as though it might be Asian in background but I note that your restaurant will be serving progressive American cuisine.

Asian? I have to think it might have something French to it... :wink:

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Is J'ai named after the intials of the names of the partners in the restaurant?  Just a small question.  It sounds as though it might be Asian in background but I note that your restaurant will be serving progressive American cuisine.

Asian? I have to think it might have something French to it... :wink:

Yes, I stand corrected. I checked my French dictionaries and you are correct. Maybe this speaks to my point that the name of a restaurant can be confusing to the customers if the name doesn't directly reflect the style of cuisine that is served?

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Is J'ai named after the intials of the names of the partners in the restaurant?  Just a small question.  It sounds as though it might be Asian in background but I note that your restaurant will be serving progressive American cuisine.

Asian? I have to think it might have something French to it... :wink:

Yes, I stand corrected. I checked my French dictionaries and you are correct. Maybe this speaks to my point that the name of a restaurant can be confusing to the customers if the name doesn't directly reflect the style of cuisine that is served?

When I first saw the name I immediately thought it was Asian too. My son's name is Jai and we're Filipino.


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Hello everyone,

Yes Jai is French which means, "I have" alot of debt :) .

My other company Maichef Cuisine is the firat name of my wife Mai, and then me (Chef). She thought to be fair because my family gave her so much grief about not having my name anywhere, she came up with J'ai. My first initail and the last two of her first name. Sort of cool I though and the name flows well and is true. I do have allot of debt now with these two entity's

Good comments about the menu all of these will be taken very seriously.

Myself and my culinary staff will be the ones delivery the food to the tables. I will need to bring someone in on a consultant bases to help with wines and service of them. If I have not mentioned it, is a very intimate ten seat venue, glass enclosed right in the middle of our commercial kitchen.

THe comments of the menu are pretty straight on and will incoroprate some of these ideas. Look in the next week and a half for us to start posting pictures for all of you.

I hope to be open in the next six monthes...the plan....

1. finalize all lic. ie. Liquor and occupancy is holding us up.

2. rigorous menu development, tasting, pictures and feedback

finding some other cermaics and serving apparatus

3. a little more detailing of space

4. I will post dates when we are ready to test and if any of you are in the Chicago area I would welcome you to test us out before I have to start charging you :)

Also if someone want to start a business either restaurant or catering please feel free to ask me any questions. I would be happy to walk you thru the important steps, so you dont stumble as much as I have, but it is turing out awesome

Later

Jon

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Look forward to you posting your revised menu...perhaps we can then suggest wines

PM me if you dont want to post publically

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My big question is why do you have the pork before the fish courses? I would think that you would want to keep the progression moving in the classical format,

amuse

pasta

fish(es)

meat(s)

cheese

salad

sweets

Seems odd to have meat then seafood then meat again.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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My big question is why do you have the pork before the fish courses?  I would think that you would want to keep the progression moving in the classical format,

amuse

pasta

fish(es)

meat(s)

cheese

salad

sweets

Seems odd to have meat then seafood then meat again.

you last statement summed it up....We are so far from classical. We(my staff and I) are classically trained, but we put out cutting edge cuisine, that fun, fun to look at most important tastes great, but wont follow any standards. Dont mistake this attitude as cocky and we are not just throwing stuff togehter. Everything is thought out and does have a purpose. We will just not follow the norm

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