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Moto Restaurant - Chicago


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There's a fun story by Judy Hevrdejs in yesterday's Chicago Tribune which focuses on a dinner at Moto with science expert Lee Marek . . .

Don't know your colloidal dispersions from your colloidal suspensions? Neither did we. But with so much chemistry and physics playing to applause at a restaurant near you, we decided to invite an expert to join us for dinner at Moto to decipher some of the science that's showing up on plates around town.
You don't need Marek sitting at your table--or a degree in advanced molecular gastronomy--to enjoy a meal at Moto. But, boy, can Marek make it interesting.
"Moto is high-tech tapas. Food to fool your senses," scientist Marek told us, a few days after a 10-course meal at Moto. "I felt right at home. One reason is the liquid nitrogen that is used in abundance at Moto. I love that stuff!

"Some restaurants brag about the number of bottles of wine in the cellar," Marek added. "Here they are really proud of their supply of liquid nitrogen."

Advanced gastronomy

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I agree that the wine tasting service can be a problem.  The attached picture shows the problem that you so elegantly presented.  The wines were all very good (a couple exceptions aside) but the dishes come out pretty fast and then you have to drink fast or create a (wine)traffic jam. From now on, if (a completely rethorical if) I order the GTM, I will ask for the 10-wine pairing service. 

http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/11610160...3747_512510.jpg

We recently had the GT at Moto. We also thought it would be a good idea to order the 10-wine pairing, but was told that it would not be possible. When I mentioned that the 10 wines were identical to those given with the GT, I was told that they were not (though we had the menu in front of us) :rolleyes: . After trying to reason back and forth, it was such a pain that we decided to get the full wine tour, though I think 10 would have been plenty.

ETA: We thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We've eaten at most of the GT type places in Chicago (Alinea, Tru, Avenues, Trio of old, etc), but we liken our Moto experience to our meal at WD-50 in NY. Innovative, exuberant, and entertaining. We joined in conversation with the diners around us, which always makes the experience much more enjoyable.

Edited by babyprof (log)
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I agree that the wine tasting service can be a problem.  The attached picture shows the problem that you so elegantly presented.  The wines were all very good (a couple exceptions aside) but the dishes come out pretty fast and then you have to drink fast or create a (wine)traffic jam. From now on, if (a completely rethorical if) I order the GTM, I will ask for the 10-wine pairing service. 

http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/11610160...3747_512510.jpg

We recently had the GT at Moto. We also thought it would be a good idea to order the 10-wine pairing, but was told that it would not be possible. When I mentioned that the 10 wines were identical to those given with the GT, I was told that they were not. After trying to reason back and forth, it was such a pain that we decided to get the full wine tour, though I think 10 would have been plenty.

I will be there next month and I will ask for the same thing you did. If that is not possible, I will go cocktail/champagne and a glass of red....and then that is it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Moto 4.0 Chicago

Jay Jacobs, the former New York restaurant critic for Gourmet, wrote of what he termed the “home-field advantage.” As applies to dining, it is the “Cheers” phenomenon, the place where everyone knows your name. And an advantage is to be had. These restaurants provide social comfort and the assurance that any problem will quickly be set right. My upscale Chicago go-to place is Moto. Moto is where I bring friends whom I really wish to impress with the possibility of cuisine

Dining at Moto is not for everyone, and perhaps is not for many. A diner who wants to stick a toe in molecular cuisine should choose the snappy and accessible Butter. But Moto provides an unforgettable and joyous evening. And, unlike so many other establishments, the entertainment is dancing on the plate and in the twinkling of eyes. I never have so much fun as when I dine on Fulton Market Street. The other grand molecular establishments - Alinea, for one – have a seriousness of purpose, absent at Moto. And, happily for diners, their price points are different (if $300 can be differentiated from $400 for the full show – less expensive for smaller menus).

Chef Cantu’s problem – or perhaps it is our problem – is that at times he seems constrained by his techniques. One feels that he has set his challenge as what dish can he make using one of his Tom Swift toys, rather than beginning with the conception of the dish and then discovering the method. Some dishes were spectacular creations, but others were modified versions of previous efforts. We were served an edible menu, dippin’ dots, nitrogenated fruit, fish cooked in a box, pizza and salad soup, liquefied Krispie Kremes, packing peanuts - greatest hits, but with the danger of soon becoming same old, same old. At his best, Chef Cantu serves remarkably evocative dishes, but at times his ideas are cramped. And as dearly as I love Moto, his genius does not shine as consistently as Trotter or Achatz. Still Cantu regularly provides a cuisine of amazement, a Cuisine Agape, distinct from what has been labeled as Molecular Cuisine. At least in the West Loop, shock and awe triumphs.

Our group of four decided on the Grand Tasting Menu. This is not the choice that I would have preferred. Once one knows the range of Chef Cantu’s abilities, he seems more accomplished working on the larger plates of the five-course menu. However, my three companions were Moto-virgins, and we selected the twenty course tour.

Moto (and other similar outposts) does not make a course-by-course evaluation easy. The menu is designed to misdirect diners: “ITALIAN food” (the pizza and the Caesar salad soup); “Chili-Cheese Nachos” (the final Ben Roche dessert with frozen mango, milk chocolate, diced kiwis and candied tortilla chips); and “Synthetic Champagne” (apple cider and verjus). The servers announce the ingredients, but in the rush, this scribe could not inscribe the complexity of the dish.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time (and although I would have enjoyed the hefty version on the five course menu), the dish that I best recall is “Rabbit and Aromatic Utensils” (utensils with a sage tassel). The dish was served with several preparation of rabbit, scarlet runner beans, white truffle power, and puffed rice. The serving was too small for its intensity, but it was a brilliant combination. A second astonishing dish was Maple Squash Cake – a squash soufflé with maple flakes and cider sauce and diced bacon. It was one of the most complete and integrated dishes I have enjoyed at Moto. The “main course,” a perfectly cooked Lamb Chop with stone-ground mustard, braised cabbage and ground kielbasa, revealed Chef Cantu’s skills in a recognizably traditional preparation, Passion Fruit and Crab, perhaps owing something to Wylie Dufresne’s attempt to create noodles of everything, was remarkable with a surprising, herbal Japanese shiso sauce and buttered popcorn puree. The Hamachi and Nitrogenated Orange worked as well – or perhaps better – than when the citrus was paired with lobster, and the Bass baked tableside had a lovely paprika smokiness. The Chili-Cheese Nachos, although a conceit, was the most impressive of the five desserts.

I find Chef Cantu’s ice creams less appealing; the least stirring dish was Jalapeno ice cream, too salty, served with toasted quinoa. The goat cheese snow with balsamic vinegar was quickly passed over. Tonight’s doughnut soup was bubbly. I preferred the velvety version I was served at my first meal.

At the first dinner (our seven-and-a-half hour banquet referred to in Time), I commented on the wonder of the wine pairing. Since then, Moto has a new wine director, Matthew Gundlach, and I had been less impressed with the pairings, but tonight was splendid. The vintage Quebec beer (Unibroue 2005, Chambly) was eye-opening. Also notable was a 2004 August Kesseler Spatlese Riesling Rheingau, a 2004 Huia Pinot from New Zealand, and a honeyed Austrian Meinklang 2001 Trockenbeeren. We quaffed memorable dozen with only a single unimpressive pour (a 2001 Susana Balbo Brioso Mendoza). The Martini library, a set of colorful cocktails served in plastic pipettes, was an odd, giggly curiosity.

Like other diners, we were given a tour of the kitchen. Let me confess my misgivings. My guests (and I) welcomed meeting with Chef Cantu. However, this was an attempt to make the backstage a performance. Wearing goggles (and being warned not to remove them), we were to be wowed by technology. Yes, this was a memorable break, but perhaps distracted from the fact that we were there to eat and perhaps distracted the staff who were there to cook. This tension between cuisine and technology is the line that Chef Cantu must tread carefully.

Moto is a restaurant to treasure and to revisit. When I wish to persuade friends that some meals will never be forgotten this is where I take them. There are many worse things than to be known as the man from Moto.

Moto Restaurant

945 W. Fulton Market

Chicago (West Loop)

312-491-0058

www.motorestaurant.com

Photos available on:

Vealcheeks

Edited by gaf (log)
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Thanks for your excellent report. i'm surprised the Balbo was the wine that impressed least. I take that as a good report on the wine program. :smile:

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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Moto is where I bring friends whom I really wish to impress with the possibility of cuisine.

<snip>

Our group of four decided on the Grand Tasting Menu. This is not the choice that I would have preferred. Once one knows the range of Chef Cantu’s abilities, he seems more accomplished working on the larger plates of the five-course menu. However, my three companions were Moto-virgins, and we selected the twenty course tour.

<snip>

Moto is a restaurant to treasure and to revisit. When I wish to persuade friends that some meals will never be forgotten this is where I take them. There are many worse things than to be known as the man from Moto.

gaf,

Thank you for hosting this dinner and for introducing the three of us Moto-newbies to the joys of dining under Chef Cantu's care. In retrospect, I do agree with you that a 5, or at most 10, course menu would probably have been best for an evening of great dining, however I must confess the anticipation of "what will we be presented with next?" kept my endurance up for the 5.5 hours of dining. Of course, great company helps too. :smile:

My recommendation for anyone interested in dining at Moto is to expect it to be a meal of diner interaction with the food. Moto may not be a place of four star cuisine, but one would certainly be greatly amused in the whimsical nature of each course and find much to talk about (a video recorder to document the reactions of Moto virgins would be neat too - I recall our child-like giggles when we popped in the cotton candy bomb!).

Lastly, my favourite courses of the evening were the Maple Squash Cake (just lovely), the Passion Fruit and Crab (perfection in flavour when all the components were consumed together), the Rabbit and Aromatic Utensils (that reminded me of Chinese BBQ pork :blush: ), and the Chili-Cheese Nachos (so cleverly deceiving and tasty - a perfect contrast in taste, colour and texture).

It was a great pleasure to meet you and I look forward to the potential of dining in your company in the near future.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I walked into Moto at 9:45pm after trying a mediocre sushi stop for the first time and the staff led by Matt Gundlach put together a 6 course tasing on the fly (no pics or notes, so this is from memory).

First Course:

Hamachi & orange paired with larmandier bernier, 1ER Cru Blanc De Blancs, vertus brut nv

nice opener...clean and fresh hamachi with a carbonated orange...when I squeezed the orange, it was like drinking a orange crush with the orange bubbling all over the place...I squeezed the orange over the hamachi and then into my mouth

Second Course:

Maple Squash Cake paired with balthazaar ress, Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen, riesling, spatlese, rheingau2002

on one side of the plate was squash cubes with bacon and on the other side of the plate was a frozen delicata squash foam...foam was absolutely outstanding...the texture of the frozen foam and flavor WOW!

Third Course:

BBQ Pork with the fixin's paired with sutton cellars, 50/50, carignane/ grenache, california 2001

on one side of the plate was a pork jowl with bbq sauce - Moto style and on the other side of the plate a cube of bread dipped in squid ink (to look like a piece of charcoal) and then into a liquid nitrogen bath so that it is frozen...we were instructed to eat the pork first which would give the bread cube time to thaw and then use the bread to slop up the sauce...flavor of the sauce and the pork was good (though I may have used pork belly rather than jowl but I am just splitting whiskers :wink:)...I do not think the frozen aspect of the cube added to the dish, but that did not stop me from leaving a clean plate

Fourth Course:

2&3 dimensional truffle

this was an edible picture of cotton candy flavored paper and a truffle with a cotton candy liquid filling...successful in flavoring (choice between this and the real thing, put me down for the real thing- though that is not the point of the course)

Fifth Course:

Chili-Cheese nachos paired with elio perrone, Sourgal, moscato d'asti 2005

This course is in the same vein as the Fat Duck beet and blood orange jellies, meaning that it may look like Chili-Cheese nachos but it is not what it looks like. This course was absolute genius this was the "best in class" example of this kind of dish that I have ever eaten. Since I have no notes some of the components will not be exact, but the point will not be lost. The elements of the dish: tortilla chips dipped in simple syrup (think frosted flake tortilla chips), guacamole looking thing was Kiwi ( could be totally wrong), sour cream was a sweet mascarpone exact texture of sour cream, ground beef size little bits of chocolate and as the shredded cheese there was a frozen shredded orange sorbet of some kind. So you grab a chip and scoop up the elements like you would nachos and here is where it gets weird and fantastic at the same time. How many times in your life have you eaten nachos? The look and mouthfeel are dead ringers for the real thing...you know that you are eating a dessert course, but when you put a chip in your mouth your brain is telling you nachos so your taste memory for a split second imagines the savory version and you are thinking weird not good, but then your tastebuds take over and the sweetness comes thru. After one bite, I was unsure what I really just experienced. I also noticed the look on my friend's face and he seemed to be going thru the same thing. I scoop up another bite with some of the ground beef looking chocolate bits...happens again initial mouthfeel tricks me and I am weirded out then the sweetness comes thru then laughter. Pastry Chef Ben Roche hit it out of the park with this dish. To be able to execute this dish successfully on so many different levels is quite an achievement. BRAVO

Course Six:

Flapjacks prepared tableside paired with meinklang, Trokenbeerenauslese, bouvier, burgenland 2001

A griddle is brought to the table that has been dipped in liquid nitrogen so that when the pancake mix (cooked pancakes pureed into a liquid form) is poured on the griddle, the pancakes are frozen seared. The tiny frozen flapjack is placed on a spoon with a drop of Steve's Blis Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup on it. Well, after tasting the syrup there is now a bottle of the syrup in my cabinet.

I had not been to Moto in about a year and this quick taste has made me want to plan a GTM as soon as possible.

Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I walked into Moto at 9:45pm after trying a mediocre sushi stop for the first time and the staff led by Matt Gundlach put together a 6 course tasing on the fly (no pics or notes, so this is from memory).

First Course:

Hamachi & orange paired with larmandier bernier, 1ER Cru Blanc De Blancs, vertus brut nv

nice opener...clean and fresh hamachi with a carbonated orange...when I squeezed the orange, it was like drinking a orange crush with the orange bubbling all over the place...I squeezed the orange over the hamachi and then into my mouth

Second Course:

Maple Squash Cake paired with balthazaar ress, Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen, riesling, spatlese, rheingau2002

on one side of the plate was squash cubes with bacon and on the other side of the plate was a frozen delicata squash foam...foam was absolutely outstanding...the texture of the frozen foam and flavor WOW!

Third Course:

BBQ Pork with the fixin's paired with sutton cellars, 50/50, carignane/ grenache, california 2001

on one side of the plate was a pork jowl with bbq sauce - Moto style and on the other side of the plate a cube of bread dipped in squid ink (to look like a piece of charcoal) and then into a liquid nitrogen bath so that it is frozen...we were instructed to eat the pork first which would give the bread cube time to thaw and then use the bread to slop up the sauce...flavor of the sauce and the pork was good (though I may have used pork belly rather than jowl but I am just splitting whiskers :wink:)...I do not think the frozen aspect of the cube added to the dish, but that did not stop me from leaving a clean plate

Fourth Course:

2&3 dimensional truffle

this was an edible picture of cotton candy flavored paper and a truffle with a cotton candy liquid filling...successful in flavoring (choice between this and the real thing, put me down for the real thing- though that is not the point of the course)

Fifth Course:

Chili-Cheese nachos paired with elio perrone, Sourgal, moscato d'asti 2005

This course is in the same vein as the Fat Duck beet and blood orange jellies, meaning that it may look like Chili-Cheese nachos but it is not what it looks like. This course was absolute genius this was the "best in class" example of this kind of dish that I have ever eaten. Since I have no notes some of the components will not be exact, but the point will not be lost. The elements of the dish: tortilla chips dipped in simple syrup (think frosted flake tortilla chips), guacamole looking thing was Kiwi ( could be totally wrong), sour cream was a sweet mascarpone exact texture of sour cream, ground beef size little bits of chocolate. So you grab a chip and scoop up the elements like you would nachos and here is where it gets weird and fantastic at the same time. How many times in your life have you eaten nachos? The look and mouthfeel are dead ringers for the real thing...you know that you are eating a dessert course, but when you put a chip in your mouth your brain is telling you nachos so your taste memory for a split second imagines the savory version and you are thinking weird not good, but then your tastebuds take over and the sweetness comes thru. After one bite, I was unsure what I really just experienced. I also noticed the look on my friend's face and he seemed to be going thru the same thing. I scoop up another bite with some of the ground beef looking chocolate bits...happens again initial mouthfeel tricks me and I am weirded out then the sweetness comes thru then laughter. Pastry Chef Ben Roche hit it out of the park with this dish. To be able to execute this dish successfully on so many different levels is quite an achievement.  BRAVO

Course Six:

Flapjacks prepared tableside paired with meinklang, Trokenbeerenauslese, bouvier, burgenland 2001

A griddle is brought to the table that has been dipped in liquid nitrogen so that when the pancake mix (cooked pancakes pureed into a liquid form) is poured on the griddle, the pancakes are frozen seared. The tiny frozen flapjack is placed on a spoon with a drop of Steve's Blis Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup on it. Well, after tasting the syrup there is now a bottle of the syrup in my cabinet.

I had not been to Moto in about a year and this quick taste has made me want to plan a GTM as soon as possible.

Wow that sounds great...The Nacho thing sounds very cool! I can't wait to eat here some day.

Thankyou for the detailed descriptions!

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

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Great report, Eliot. Homaro Cantu is as creative as they come. The nachos sound like particular fun. I do love a good "disguise" dish. The first of its kind I ever had was also a dessert dish, in Montreal at Chez L'Epicier.The plate came out looking exactly like a club sandwich with french fries and cole slaw. If I remember correctly, the sandwich was cake, the fries pineapple and the slaw melon. The desssert was delicious and loads of fun. Moto goes a step further with the textural verasimilitude. I love just reading about it!

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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Thanks a ton for the compliments. However, I would like to point out that the entire pastry department is the creativity of Ben Roche and not me. He also handles the squash course as well as numerous other savory items. I am more than certain everyone here will get to know him in the future, both in and out of egullet.

Cheers,

HC

Mr. Wexler, you are always welcome to our place.

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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I walked into Moto at 9:45pm after trying a mediocre sushi stop for the first time and the staff led by Matt Gundlach  put together a 6 course tasing on the fly (no pics or notes, so this is from memory).

First Course:

Hamachi & orange paired with larmandier bernier, 1ER Cru Blanc De Blancs, vertus brut nv

nice opener...clean and fresh hamachi with a carbonated orange...when I squeezed the orange, it was like drinking a orange crush with the orange bubbling all over the place...I squeezed the orange over the hamachi and then into my mouth

Second Course:

Maple Squash Cake paired with balthazaar ress, Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen, riesling, spatlese, rheingau2002

on one side of the plate was squash cubes with bacon and on the other side of the plate was a frozen delicata squash foam...foam was absolutely outstanding...the texture of the frozen foam and flavor WOW!

Third Course:

BBQ Pork with the fixin's paired with sutton cellars, 50/50, carignane/ grenache, california 2001

on one side of the plate was a pork jowl with bbq sauce - Moto style and on the other side of the plate a cube of bread dipped in squid ink (to look like a piece of charcoal) and then into a liquid nitrogen bath so that it is frozen...we were instructed to eat the pork first which would give the bread cube time to thaw and then use the bread to slop up the sauce...flavor of the sauce and the pork was good (though I may have used pork belly rather than jowl but I am just splitting whiskers :wink:)...I do not think the frozen aspect of the cube added to the dish, but that did not stop me from leaving a clean plate

Fourth Course:

2&3 dimensional truffle

this was an edible picture of cotton candy flavored paper and a truffle with a cotton candy liquid filling...successful in flavoring (choice between this and the real thing, put me down for the real thing- though that is not the point of the course)

Fifth Course:

Chili-Cheese nachos paired with elio perrone, Sourgal, moscato d'asti 2005

This course is in the same vein as the Fat Duck beet and blood orange jellies, meaning that it may look like Chili-Cheese nachos but it is not what it looks like. This course was absolute genius this was the "best in class" example of this kind of dish that I have ever eaten. Since I have no notes some of the components will not be exact, but the point will not be lost. The elements of the dish: tortilla chips dipped in simple syrup (think frosted flake tortilla chips), guacamole looking thing was Kiwi ( could be totally wrong), sour cream was a sweet mascarpone exact texture of sour cream, ground beef size little bits of chocolate and as the shredded cheese there was a frozen shredded orange sorbet of some kind. So you grab a chip and scoop up the elements like you would nachos and here is where it gets weird and fantastic at the same time. How many times in your life have you eaten nachos? The look and mouthfeel are dead ringers for the real thing...you know that you are eating a dessert course, but when you put a chip in your mouth your brain is telling you nachos so your taste memory for a split second imagines the savory version and you are thinking weird not good, but then your tastebuds take over and the sweetness comes thru. After one bite, I was unsure what I really just experienced. I also noticed the look on my friend's face and he seemed to be going thru the same thing. I scoop up another bite with some of the ground beef looking chocolate bits...happens again initial mouthfeel tricks me and I am weirded out then the sweetness comes thru then laughter. Pastry Chef Ben Roche hit it out of the park with this dish. To be able to execute this dish successfully on so many different levels is quite an achievement.  BRAVO

Course Six:

Flapjacks prepared tableside paired with meinklang, Trokenbeerenauslese, bouvier, burgenland 2001

A griddle is brought to the table that has been dipped in liquid nitrogen so that when the pancake mix (cooked pancakes pureed into a liquid form) is poured on the griddle, the pancakes are frozen seared. The tiny frozen flapjack is placed on a spoon with a drop of Steve's Blis Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup on it. Well, after tasting the syrup there is now a bottle of the syrup in my cabinet.

I had not been to Moto in about a year and this quick taste has made me want to plan a GTM as soon as possible.

I was in moto not to long ago and

I have to agree with molto e

I have tasted both the jellies at the fat duck

and also the melon caviar at el bulli

the nacho course at moto belongs among these dishes

also Matt Gundlach's service and personality made the night

thanks again for everything Matt

Edited by Mr. Bottisn (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Flying to Chicago tomorrow with the family to finally get to experience Moto for the first time on Thursday at 6:45. I've been looking forward to seeing all of chef Cantu's creations with my own eyes and no longer having to live vicariously through others. I just hope I can convince the family to go for the GTM and not the 10 course. Either way, I can't wait!! I'll be sure to deliver the full report when we return.

hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday

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Flying to Chicago tomorrow with the family to finally get to experience Moto for the first time on Thursday at 6:45.  I've been looking forward to seeing all of chef Cantu's creations with my own eyes and no longer having to live vicariously through others.    I just hope I can convince the family to go for the GTM and not the 10 course.  Either way, I can't wait!!  I'll be sure to deliver the full report when we return.

hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday

I just hope that you can convince your whole family to have the GTM. It takes time (4 hours) but it is worth it. I just came back from another memorable meal at Chef Cantu's Moto. The GTM included old favorites (Italian food, Nitro Sushi Roll, Acorn with Bacon, among many others)

and a couple of new dishes for me:

The Gooseberry and mint (not sure what it was, but it was great)

gallery_47955_4048_3800.jpg

And the "Beef mac &Cheese"gallery_47955_4048_7946.jpg

THe "mac" was dehydrated elbow pasta and you mixed in the "cheddar." Delicious and playful to the max.

Among the many desserts (Banana Split, Flapjacks, 3 cotton Candy Stages) the perennial "Nachos"

gallery_47955_4048_9322.jpg

MOTO is fast becoming one of my favorite restaurants. I am surprised that some posters criticized the service because, in my experience, it has always been flawless. Amy, Matthew, the two Mikes and Trevor, among the wait staff, are topnotch professionals.

I cannot wait to go there soon, very soon.

Enjoy,

Lenski.

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thanks for the report. you've done the impossible and upped the excitement even more!!! Also, thanks for those first two pictures of dishes I had not seen or heard of before. I can't wait to see what other surprises are in store for us.

Flying to Chicago tomorrow with the family to finally get to experience Moto for the first time on Thursday at 6:45.  I've been looking forward to seeing all of chef Cantu's creations with my own eyes and no longer having to live vicariously through others.    I just hope I can convince the family to go for the GTM and not the 10 course.  Either way, I can't wait!!  I'll be sure to deliver the full report when we return.

hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday

I just hope that you can convince your whole family to have the GTM. It takes time (4 hours) but it is worth it. I just came back from another memorable meal at Chef Cantu's Moto. The GTM included old favorites (Italian food, Nitro Sushi Roll, Acorn with Bacon, among many others)

and a couple of new dishes for me:

The Gooseberry and mint (not sure what it was, but it was great)

gallery_47955_4048_3800.jpg

And the "Beef mac &Cheese"gallery_47955_4048_7946.jpg

THe "mac" was dehydrated elbow pasta and you mixed in the "cheddar." Delicious and playful to the max.

Among the many desserts (Banana Split, Flapjacks, 3 cotton Candy Stages) the perennial "Nachos"

gallery_47955_4048_9322.jpg

MOTO is fast becoming one of my favorite restaurants. I am surprised that some posters criticized the service because, in my experience, it has always been flawless. Amy, Matthew, the two Mikes and Trevor, among the wait staff, are topnotch professionals.

I cannot wait to go there soon, very soon.

Enjoy,

Lenski.

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A griddle is brought to the table that has been dipped in liquid nitrogen so that when the pancake mix (cooked pancakes pureed into a liquid form) is poured on the griddle, the pancakes are frozen seared. The tiny frozen flapjack is placed on a spoon with a drop of Steve's Blis Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup on it. Well, after tasting the syrup there is now a bottle of the syrup in my cabinet.

Steve Stallard's operation is headquartered here in the Grand Rapids area. Lucky us. My local supermarket even carries his maple syrups. Not cheap, obviously, but great stuff. Read the story here.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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From the story linked above by Alex:

When Steve Stallard reaches for maple syrup to glaze turkey, he doesn't grab any old thing off the shelf. The syrup he makes is deluxe.

Stallard keeps his pure maple syrup in wood casks that previously aged whiskey for 18 years. This year-long storage allows the maple to pull in the whiskey and wood flavors. Each bottle gets a distinctive, red wax seal, hand-dipped by Stallard.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to thank Chef Cantu and his team for a wonderful dining experience last Thursday. My family flew to Chicago, primarily to eat at Moto. I was afraid my wife and mother were going to want to do the 10 course, but they changed their minds when they saw the grand menu. I will give a more detailed play-by-play when I get a copy of the menu back from my mom.

Here are a few brief remarks:

- My mom had the non-alcoholic drink pairing of which I had to try each one. I thought they were very creative, paired well with the dishes, and tasted good as well.

One drink had this amazing pretzel foam on top. I want a jar of that foam.

Another drink tasted very strongly of bacon to go with a BBQ dish. My mom really disliked drinking her bacon, but I thought it went well with the course, but could hear my arteries clogging. I can only imagine them frying bacon on a george forman in back and mixing the grease-catcher with other liquids.

- we got to tour the kitchen, after being given safety goggles and witnessed the vaporization of a powder made from oranges by the class IV laser. The smoke was captured in our wine glasses and was used to alter the flavor of our next wine pairing.

Curious to see exactly how much of a difference this technique made to the wine, I asked for a side-by-side comparison. This request was gratiously met. I was very surprised at the difference. I could really tell how the wine felt richer on the tongue. The smoke made it smoother, with less tanin and brought out the other citrus flavors of the wine.

- my wife is a vegetarian and I thought they did an amzaing job altering the dished to her needs, while still maintaining the look and tastes of our plates.

Like I said, more to come, but just wanted to go ahead and give my praise for Moto. I definitely look forward to returning to experience Chef Cantu's new concotions and inventions.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Spoiler ahead regarding Morimoto/Cantu Iron Chef Battle

I just watched the battle and found it to be one of the most exciting battles to date! Granted it helps that I recently dined at Moto and was able to experience many of the techniques they used during the battle, but it was so exciting to watch chef cantu's team in action.

I just wanted to tell chef Cantu and his crew congratulations. I was concerned at first when many of the judges commented on the lack of beet(main ingredient) in the dishes (usually a death sentence in iron chef), but apparently the wonderful flavors and amazing creativity/innovation won them over. Congratulations again.

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I have to say, I was a little surpised by the outcome (I won't ruin for those who are getting this via email).

I thought Morimoto's plating was GORGEOUS and it really appealed to my palate. Cantu's stuff was SO creative, as usual - and I wanted to taste his stuff just out of curiosity!!

Great work on both parts - this was probably one of the most exciting competitions to watch.

“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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I agree, this was one of the best Iron Chef America Battles in a long time. I love how Morimoto busted out the Liquid Nitrogen and Alginate, as to say 'I can do that type of stuff too!!'

I must say I was suprised by the outcome as well, even though I am a huge Morimoto fan...I was pulling for Cantu because the majority of people seem to have this negative view on post modern cuisine. But I am glad the Judges enjoyed everything!!

Watching that episode Im sure alot more people will be making that trip to chicago and become more open minded!

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Congratulations to Chef Cantu and his team, this was the best ever that I have seen on Iron Chef. Much deserved victory. Excellent performance on Chef Morimoto's side too. Keep up the good work.

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux

makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them." Brillat-Savarin

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  • 1 month later...

Note to self: This Sunday at 2:30 (CST), WYCC (Chicago's local channel 20, (the website has incorrect information regarding the channel for Chicago, so check your local listing)) will be airing Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie. In this episode, "Avant Garde A La Carte," chef Louisa Chu will be visiting with chefs Homaru Cantu and Grant Achatz.

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  • 1 month later...

I had dinner at Moto on Tuesday with my sister. We did the 10 course tasting menu.

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal. The courses were varied and inventive. We got to try some of Cantu's signature dishes. My sister (who is traumatized by our kosher upbringing) volunteered to eat pork for the first time after tasting the first several dishes.

However, I found several of the desserts to be almost unpalatably sweet. I couldn't eat more than a few bites of the vanilla yogurt and graham cracker with apple balls. I loved the cotton candy paper (it actually wasn't too sweet), but I also found the white chocolate gusher that came with it to be overly sweet. The carmel popcorn ice cream sandwiches were also too sweet for me, and the nachos (which I loved the idea of) were borderline. All of these desserts were served with a sweet moscato d'asti.

Has anyone else found the desserts to be REALLY sweet? While I appreciated the ideas being expressed, I felt a bit annoyed that I could only eat one or two bites of the last 4 our 10 courses.

I'm curious to hear if other people have similar comments. Is this an unusual reaction?

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was lucky enough to visit Alinea and Moto in the same three-day trip. I wish I had the power and the funding to send every eGullet Society member to both restaurants back-to-back. It was one of the great culinary experiences of my life.

Whereas Alinea strives for something akin to a Michelin three-star experience, Moto is much funkier. It has already been noted that it’s on a stretch of meat-packing warehouse buildings way the heck out on Fulton where the curbs are about three feet high, it feels like you’re walking into a contemporary art gallery or the shop of a designer who’s so famous he doesn’t have to put anything in the window, the interior has an industrial edge, there’s Buddha-Bar-esque music playing (Alinea is music-free). The servers are downtown (one of them actually looks like he should be a close relative of Wylie Dufresne), enthusiastic and have a great sense of hospitality. There are many Asian influences and witty postmodern riffs on American comfort food, and the beverage program is free-wheeling, incorporating beer, sake and some unusual wines. An evening at Moto is great fun.

The edible menu came on a parmesan crisp with a little microgreen salad propping up one end. It was really tasty. It doesn’t technically count as a course – verbally they say 18 courses for the big tasting menu, but in print it’s 20 and if you count everything it’s more like 22 -- but it’s a refreshing, whimsical amuse.

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The first official course was the “nitro sushi roll,” which was actually more of a tartare. The fish was opa I believe, and it would have been a great dish even if only served the normal way. However, after the dish was presented, a server brought a vapor-spewing saucepan to the table and scooped out a bunch of liquid-nitrogen-frozen pellets of sesame oil to garnish the dish, elevating it to another level:

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The next course, called “Italian food” on the menu, was a pair of cold soups, one of which tasted like pizza and the other like Caesar salad. The Caesar salad one was particularly successful. This dish was paired with Unibroue’s 2005 vintage Chambly beer – probably the best pairing in an evening of many great pairings.

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A beet cake was garnished with beets and bacon bits as well as beet sauces:

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The “gin & tonic fizz” was prepared at the table. There was a small amount of liquid in the glass, and then another liquid was pumped in from a gigantic syringe that made me think along animal husbandry lines. When the binary components combined, the beverage fizzed up.

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Ramp and goat cheese snow, presumably another dish owed to liquid nitrogen:

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This dish, called “tombo & miso,” was great – the miso soup, standing alone, was one of the best I’d ever had, and it was paired with a beautiful piece of fish. The fish was sitting on a metal grid that I eventually realized was frozen. As the fish spent more time in contact with the metal, the bottom of it took on a frozen texture.

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I had seen these utensils at the Cooper-Hewitt museum during the “Feeding Desire” exhibition, but had forgotten that they were designed by Homaro Cantu. In this presentation, there were herb sprigs tucked into the spiral, giving a whiff of herbs with each bite. The dish, called “caramel apple with bacon,” was served on an intimidating metal contraption that held the utensils suspended in the air. The pork was under the apple:

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This mysterious item was placed on the table and set on fire. Actually some compound on the plate was flammable and was ignited with a blowtorch at the table, giving the appearance of the black stuff being the result of the fire. This became the centerpiece for a few courses, before being combined with a dish later.

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A little palate cleanser of lemon, basil and pickled cucumber:

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A bouillabaisse-like stock with clams and some weird noodles was, like the miso soup, a fine example of its kind, given an unusual edge by the noodles.

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“Jalapeno and cilantro”

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This dish, called bbq pork “with the fixin’s,” was one of my favorites. The black things from the middle of the table were finally revealed to be pieces of white toast colored with squid ink. You use it to sop up the barbecue sauce. There was also a sort of granulated white-bread garnish.

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“Chicken fried mac-n-cheese” – the pieces of macaroni were crispy, and I think the white stuff was a cheese powder.

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Probably my favorite dish – the one I’d like to be eating right now – was the “steak and eggs.” This had a hash-brown cube, a quail (I assume) egg cooked into the shape of a cube with a just-set yolk, a few slices of beef and streaks of bacony sauce.

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The transition course, on the left was white chocolate mixed with cheese and rigatoni-shaped tubes made from fruit; on the right, under the crisp, were apples.

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This dish, called “3 cotton candy stages” consisted of deep-fried cotton candy, a cotton-candy truffle-type candy, and a piece of edible paper flavored like cotton candy. Also, in the background, they put down the “carrot cake planet” at this time, but it was not supposed to be tampered with until later.

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“Flapjacks prepared tableside.” They brought out a portable antigriddle – a very, very cold sheet of metal – and “cooked” a “flapjack” on it, which was then plated up in a spoon that held some excellent maple syrup.

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The carrot cake planet had been softening up for a bit, and collapsed dramatically when touched with my spoon.

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The “cherry bomb” was three preparations of cherries, including a cherry cola sorbet.

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“Doughnut soup” was, indeed, a soup that tasted like doughnuts.

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The final course was trompe l’oiel “chili-cheese nachos” made from various fruits and sweets. Definitely sent the brain into overdrive, because the disconnect between the visual and the flavor was so dramatic.

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At the end of the meal they also gave a printed (on regular paper) menu:

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And these were the wine pairings for the evening:

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steven,

Great report...Chef Cantu is putting out a helluva an experience right now. The misconception is that Alinea and Moto are of the same genre, I do not take them that way at all. Chef Cantu is really riding (or cooking) the modern techinical bent whereas Chef G is not coming from that part of the woods. I am very excited to take the Moto ride as soon as possible. There are not many restaurants that can deliver that kind of experience and keep it delicious and by your account, Moto CAN.

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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