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Moto Restaurant - Chicago

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Thanks, Rob. Much appreciated. For whatever reason, my search at Tribune on "Cantu" returned no results.

It doesn't take a rising-star chef, a foodie wife who loves to entertain, a set decorator and a $100 budget to create a deliciously romantic dinner tableaux -- but it doesn't hurt

"My kitchen at the restaurant is like Legos," says Homaro Cantu, the executive chef at Moto. "Everything is mobile to accommodate any ideas we have. You always have to be willing to change things up."


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One of my best friends called me today to tell me that there has just been a HUGE article in one of the UK broadsheets about Moto.

She called and said "There's an article about edible menus and some restaurant in Chicago. It looks totally fantastic and I'm sure it's one of those places you've been telling me about"

We're just doing a search to find out where it was. I'll post a link as soon as I can.

Moto goes global...:-)

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Going to chicago on april 4th for business.. I am extending my trip till the end of the weekend almost entirely to try this place.. Firday the 9th i have moto and then tru on the 10th.. I will bring back some photos.

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Going to chicago on april 4th for business..  I am extending my trip till the end of the weekend almost entirely to try this place.. Firday the 9th i have moto and then tru on the 10th.. I will bring back some photos.

I had one of the greatest meals of my life at Tru last night. You will not be disappointed. As for moto, I am eager to try it but my attempts to go there keep misfiring :sad:

And yes, pictures are always appreciated :smile:


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moto receives a very nice mention in the April 4, on-line version of Time Magazine:

Cantu, 28, rarely lets any item linger on the menu for long, preferring to try new ideas like soy paper disks that look and taste like sushi and whole carbonated grapes that fizz when you pop them into your mouth (he calls them "champagne"). Lately he has been experimenting with food levitation. By injecting helium into froths and zapping smaller substances with an ion-particle gun, he hopes someday to float plate-free meals above the dining-room table.

The Tech Chef


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I just read through this entire thread--then promptly made reservations for next month when we'll be in Chicago for a wedding. I don't know if my meat-and-potatoes husband will be able to handle food levitation, but it will be fun to watch him try. :raz:

As a side note, I see a cocktail list for their lounge on their website...is the lounge completely separate from the restaurant? No one has mentioned whether it follows the same philosophy with its cocktails...

Has anyone tried it?

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Some more nice "ink" for moto from the mainstream media; NBC's Chicago affiliate, WMAQ television:

"I just like to do new things," Cantu said. "If I had it my way, we'd have a lot more lab equipment and a couple of NASA scientists working in there. but that all takes time and money."

Special Report: Scientific Chef


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An interesting story about moto appears in the Business section of today's Chicago Tribune:

Homaro Cantu's reading list, peppered with titles like Popular Mechanics and New Scientist, strays far from the culinary texts preferred by most chefs.

But Cantu isn't most chefs.

He's using Moto, his elegant River West restaurant, as a high-tech lab that may produce spinoff products in areas ranging from print advertising to battlefield dining.

Spinoffs from the kitchen? Chef's offbeat dishes spark product ideas


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Todays LA Times (May 11, 2005) in a "Column One" article entitled "Tonight's Special Is Paper" does a great description of Chef Cantu's art in the kitchen. It seems that Chef Grant may be the most creative, but not the only exceptional artist in the Heartland. Read it. it's fun. (sub required)

Da Captain

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Thanks, Captain.

For those who are interested, here is the link to the article mentioned above:

Tonight's Special Is Paper (free subscription required)

Deep in the basement of Moto restaurant, owner and executive chef Homaro Cantu is methodically filling medical syringes with 50 cc of chocolate sauce and shooting the mixture into colorful balloons.

Across the way, a sous-chef grabs a plastic foam box filled with liquid nitrogen, the white smoke billowing out. Nearby, another chef carefully feeds sheets of soybean paper into a Canon i560 inkjet printer, printing out pictures of maki rolls . . .


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I had dinner at Moto this week: the 16-course Grand Tour Moto (GTM). It was grand fun.

I'll try to post a full report later, but I want to mention two surprises based on this thread:

1. There were no clunkers. Reading this thread, I expected a few courses that simply didn't work. While some courses were better than others, everything was good.

2. The wine pairing was excellent. Someone in this thread commented that the wine pairing wasn't that good. And I generally expect wine pairings to be only okay. This was one of the better wine pairings that I have had. (My wife and I shared a pour, which is really the way to do a wine pairing with a 16-course meal.)

More later.


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I took my wife and two eldest sons to Chicago this weekend for a culinary blowout. The two restaurants I chose for this were Moto and Alinea (more on that later)

Getting to Moto on Friday night was an adventure. Our flight was supposed to arrive in Chicago by 6:20 PM Chicago time to allow for an 8:30 reservation. When we got to the airport we discovered that our flight wouldn't leave until after 7PM EST - about two hours late! :angry: . When I discovered this I immediately called the restaurant to let them know. They couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. We pushed back the reservation to the vicinity of 9:30 PM CST. We were fortunate that after we arrived at O'Hare the traffic into the city wasn't too bad. We actually were able to get to our hotel, check in, briefly freshen up and hightail it in a taxi to Moto by 9:45! :smile: It was nice to finally be able to sit down and relax.

Due to the lateness of the hour and our level of exhaustion we opted for the ten course progression.

The Sushi cartoon was a juxtoposition of the familiar and the novel. The flavors werre familiar and good while the presentation was completely novel and fun.

Champagne and Opah was a delicious invention and nicely matched with Jurtschitsch Sonnhof "Gruve" Gruner Veltliner 2003 from Kampal, Austria..

In a discussion with Chef Cantu we discovered that the French Onion soup with "frozen-hot" crouton did not work quite as intended. I couldn't figure out what he meant by "frozen-hot" after having eaten the dish, although once again the presentation was quite dramatic and as always fun. Apparently we shuld have eaten the crouton straight away to experience the sensation of the nitrogen. We hadn't and thereby missed this ephemeral effect. This was probably the one flaw in the service that we encountered as this aspect could have and should have been better instructed. Without that the course was probably my least favorite of the progression, although the wine pairing with the Terre Firme 2003 Albarino was simply sensational and for me salvaged the course.

A brief side-note: I wholeheartedly agree with Schneier's comments on the wine pairings. They were uniformly superb and in most cases outstanding. I would also agree that there were no clunkers at our dinner.

The lobster with freshly squeezed orange soda was unique and quite delicious. The rare Hollywood & Vine "2480" 2003 Chardonnay from Napa was a superb compliment.

Artichoke, balsamic and macadamia served on a spoon was one of the highlights of the evening - simply delicious. The balsamico was a 100 y/o obtained from The Rare Wine Company, although the server couldn't tell me which Acetaia it wasfrom. I suspect that it was from Acetaia del Cristo. No matter, it was a sensational dish, although, ironically, one of the least dramatic presentations. It was served with a delicious Vouvray reserve 2003 from Yves Breussin.

Talking about dramatic presentations, the french fry potato chain links with sweet potato pie was particularly so. It worked as did the 2003 Gewurtztraminer Spatlese from Fitz-Ritter of Pfalz, Germany.

The highlight of the evening for me was the bass with a grilled tomatillo broth cooked tableside in Chef Cantu's justly famous box. This was an amazing dish with perfectly cooked fish and delicious broth. 2003 Petalos de Bierzo from J. Palacios of castilla y Leon was a nice match. The smoked paprika on the outside of the box lent complex olfactory notes to both the fish and the wine.

Because it is getting late and I am getting tired I will mention a few quick comments about the rest of the meal. The lamb with braised pizza was a fine course. The doughnut soup was better than its model and the white and dark chocolate with yuzu very refreshing. my kids, however, got a particular kick out of the styrofoam with caramel dipping sauce.

The bottom line of this restaurant is that it is all about fun and magic. Chef Cantu is a true magician in the kitchen.

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My wife and I had dinner at Moto a couple of weeks ago. We ordered the Grand Tour Moto, and had a truly excellent meal. Interesting, fun, and -- most surprising -- no clunkers.

Here are the courses (wines follow the courses they were served with):

Amuse. Caesar Salad. This was a single spoonful of romaine ice cream pellets, with a crouton and some Caesar dressing.

Wine: Henri Mandois "Premier Cru," Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France, 1999.

1. Maki in the 4th Dimension. Delicious. A complicated-tasting sushi roll served in printed edible paper, with a spicy mayo-like sauce underneath. This was served without utensils, which made it harder to eat every bit of the sauce.

Wine: Jurtschitsch Snoohof "GruVe," Gruner Veltliner, Kamptak, Austria, 2003.

2. Champagne & King Crab. Another good dish. Poached king crab served with caviar, creme fraiche, and caviar. It came with three carbonated grapes. (No really; he has a machine in the back that carbonates fruit.)

Wine: Terre Firme, Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain, 2003.

3. Onion...Crouton...Nitrogenation. The waiters brought out bowls with sauteed onions and a crouton in them. Then they brought out a smoking pitcher of soup, and poured it into our bowls. The liquid nitrogen foamed nicely all over our table. The soup was delicious, but it was cool. French onion soup is supposed to be piping hot, so that wasn't as good as it could have been. My suggestion is to use this liquid nitrogen preparation -- which is way cool -- with a gazpacho or a fruit soup that is supposed to be cool.

Wine: Hollywood & Vine "2480," Chardonnay, Napa Valley, CA, 2003.

4. Lobster & Orange. Lobster meat served with celeriac puree, brown butter ice cream, and a carbonated half orange. We were to squeeze the orange on top of the other ingredients. This was one of the best dishes of the night.

Wine: Yves Breussin, Vouvray Reserve, Loire Valley, France, 2003.

5. McSweetbreads. Three pieces of otherwise cooked and then flash fried sweetbreads. Each was on a plastic pipette of sauce: sweet and sour, barbecue, and honey mustard. We all wish McDonald's served something this good.

Wine: Alpha Estate, Xinomavro, Amyndeon, Florina, Greece, 2003.

6. Artichoke & Macadamia. Artichoke ice cream and macadamia nuts, with a hint of balsamic vinegar. A nice palate cleanser.

7. Sweet Potato Pie with Savoy Cabbage. This was one of those "more clever than tasty" dishes. Someone in the kitchen carved a sweet potato into a single unbroken chain. This was lightly fried and served with a sauce that tasted for all the world like sweet potato pie. And a very tasty kraut.

Wine: Fitz-Ritten, Gewurtzraiminer Spatlses, Pfalz, Germany, 2003. We also got to taste two other Gewurtzs: one from Alcase and the other from New Zealand.

8. Bass Prepared Tableside. The raw bass came out in boxes after course 5, and it cooked in front of us. It was hard to see in the box, unfortunately. The waiters brought plates, opened the boxes, and put the bass on them. Then they poured out of the box an absolutely fantastic sauce made from tomatilllos, bacon, garlic, onion, and Thai peppercorns. Another great dish.

Wine: J. Palacios, Petalos del Bierzo, Galecia, Spain, 2003.

9. Quail Pull Apart. Dish of the night. Quail and rutabaga slices. It came with a tube-like won ton filled with sauce, which we were to break open and pour over everything. Interesting, fun, and delicious. Perfect.

Wine: Vision Cellars, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, CA, 2002.

10. Margarita with Chips and Salsa. Another palate cleanser: Margarita sorbet with a chip paste and salsa gelatin. The salsa was too mild, and was lost in the rest of the flavors.

11. Lamb with Braised Pizza & Garlic. Lamb and a small piece of Kobe beef tongue, served over a Swiss-chard mixture that was supposed to taste like pepperoni pizza. It tasted more like ratatouille to me, but it was a great dish nonetheless.

Wine: The Magnificent Wine Co., Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Washington, 2003.

12. Edible Literature of Morbier. In the lower left corner of the plate: a slice of Morbier with edible instructions printed on a something on top of the slice. In the upper right corner: a non-edible flaming pile of ash. Neat.

Wine: Warwick Estate "Old Bush Vines" Pinotage, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2003.

13. Green Curry, Hearts of Palm, and Salted Sugar. Green curry ice cream. Hearts of palm puree.

14. Freeze Dried Pina Colada. Exactly what it says. Surprisingly tasty.

15. Beet, Carrot, and Ajowan. Ajowan is kind of like caraway, but not as intense. This was just a spoonful: bits of beet, carrot puree, cream cheese, and ajowan.

16. Doughnut Soup. Soup that tasted like a donut. I loved this dish.

This was the cell phone course. A waiter came to our table, and set a covered dish in front of me. He removed the cover, and there was a cell phone on the plate. Something like "Answer me" was written on the phone, and it was vibrating. I answered it; chef Homao Cantu was calling. He told me a bit about the next dish and the waiters, and asked me how I liked the meal so far. I asked him for a kitchen tour at the end of our meal.

17. White & Dark Chocolate with Yuzu. A very pretty hollow white-chocolate ball that required liquid nitrogen to make. And a very tasty chocolate cracker and marshmallow thingy.

Wine: Eliot Prone "Sour gal," Muscat drastic, Piedmont, Italy, 2004.

18. Chocolate Cake with Hot Ice Cream. I didn't take any notes, but I remember thinking this dish didn't work all that well.

Churchill's "Late Bottled Vintage," Port, Aport, Portugal, 1998.

Bonus: Popcorn Flavored Packing Peanuts with Caramel Sauce. This had no right to taste good.

Chef came out to say hello around course 18. We talked about the meal and the restaurant. We passed along our comments. Then we went downstairs to see the kitchen. Definitely a nice end to the meal.

This was not a cheap meal: $160 each for the meal and $80 for the shared wine pour.

And the restaurant was not full. There were only fourteen covers that night. Admittedly it was a Tuesday night and Alinea had just opened, but still.


Edited by Schneier (log)

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In a discussion with Chef Cantu we discovered that the French Onion soup with "frozen-hot" crouton did not work quite as intended. I couldn't figure out what he meant by "frozen-hot" after having eaten the dish, although once again the presentation was quite dramatic and as always fun. Apparently we shuld have eaten the crouton straight away to experience the sensation of the nitrogen. We hadn't and thereby missed this ephemeral effect. This was probably the one flaw in the service that we encountered as this aspect could have and should have been better instructed.

We weren't told to eat the crouton first, either.



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Our meals were very similar, Bruce, although yours was more extensive. i had neglected to list the Caeser amuse. I'm sorry I missed the McSweetbreads and the Quail pull-apart. It was so late and we were so tired that I didn't ask for a kitchen tour, although I would have loved to have seen it. My wife would have divorced me on the spot if I did that then :wink:

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I couldn't believe how busy Moto was on Saturday night. They were turning table and, I believe, about to seat people in the new, smaller private dining room downstairs. I'm guessing they did about 70 covers which really impressed me as the first time I ate there (January last year?) I was one of about 8 people in the place on a Tuesday night.

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I couldn't believe how busy Moto was on Saturday night. They were turning table and, I believe, about to seat people in the new, smaller private dining room downstairs. I'm guessing they did about 70 covers which really impressed me as the first time I ate there (January last year?) I was one of about 8 people in the place on a Tuesday night.

And a quick glance upthread will reveal just how much media attention moto is receiving these days. I think that eventually translates into new customers. It's nice to hear that they're busy. Thanks for the update . . . btw, how was your meal?


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Me and my wife had an extrordinary time their, my best buddy braught us, I would repeat the menu but it seams i had one simular to another I have seen posted above. The walk into the kitchen was beutiful, the silence and constant movement. Lots of room and lack of walkins amazes me. I would definatly rate this in the top 3 best places I have ever eaten, from the experience alone.

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One aspect of this restaurant that I really liked but haven't previously commented on is the location amongst Chicago's meat packing district. This was not expected. It is strange, but it added to the mystique and fun of the restaurant.

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Homaro Cantu,Barry Dobesh, and Pastry Chef Ben Roche will be cooking at the Beard House in New York next week.. Sorry Chicago, but I dont think we are going to let them leave.. Just wanted to tell people to enjoy them while you can..

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I had the Grand Tasting Menu for the second time and I enjoyed it and would highly recommend Moto. Chef Cantu is an original and very creative and his staff is attentive, friendly and not stuffy as some high-end places can be. Some of my pictures will not upload for some reason?


Amuse of deconstructed caesar salad-lettuce ice cream, cruton on top of caesar dressing served on spoon/I really liked this tasted like Caesar salad, may be the best combo of savory ice cream that I have had

Maki in the 4th dimension-rice and tuna wrapped by edible picture of maki roll on top of a spicy emulsion that I do not remember the type. Great flavor, but the roll could have had more tuna in it

Champagne and king crab- the carbonated grapes had more fizz than when I had them last time-good


Corn soup with popcorn-with shrimp-good soup, great theater




Sweetbread with barbecued eggplant-Delicious, think chicken mcnugget, but with sweetbread and pipette filled with bbq sauce and eggplant puree


Artichoke and macadamia-artichoke ice cream and nut-not much reaction


Sweet Potato Pie-potato chain link, very cool, but I think I would like it better as a side


Bass baked tableside-served with tomatillo sauce, the bass was great



Short Rib pull apart- very good, break apart tube and sauce comes out


Margarita with chips and salsa- I liked it the fist time that I had it, but would have rather had the real thing


Beef with braised pizza and garlic-I loved the Ribeye cooked sous-vide, but I could have done without the pizza and garlic. This also came with garlic brulee on the Moto serviceware for aroma, but I did not get that much aroma off it

Bacon horseradish and amaranth-good toasted amaranth


Edible literature of explorateur-cheese course

Sharleyne and crenshaw melon with frosted anise hyssop-ok


Strawberry rice pudding, peanut and soy ice cream- good interesting flavors and textures


Freeze dried pina colada-good

Doughnut soup-Think Krispy Kreme soup

Chocolate cake with hot ice cream-Frozen cake with liquid cheese center and hot ice cream


Edited by molto e (log)

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