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Moto Restaurant - Chicago


inventolux
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FG, thanks for the write-up and photos! Everything looked interesting. What surprises me is that most of the dishes looked tasty/appetizing as well. Sometimes, I think that the hyper-modern concept has been taken a bit too far and that the idea of food being appetizing (and as something that sustains us) has been forgotten. While interesting and modern, the platings seemed to still maintain the appearance of flavorful food.

I'll check out the Alinea thread to see what your meal was like there. Does it warrant a separate thread that compares and contrasts the meals? I'd like to hear your take on it from that perspective. Maybe throwing in a bit of info on WD-50 or something that we can use as a baseline.

Thanks again!

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I wish I had the power and the funding to send every eGullet Society member to both restaurants back-to-back.

Steven,

I know eGullet sponsors scholarships and I hope this is the start of a new program :laugh: ...please keep me in mind for this new program...I am sure that I can qualify for this one if hunger is one of the requirements

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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One thing I wanted to say is that pastry chef Ben Roche deserves special recognition. You don't hear his name nearly as often as you hear Homaro Cantu's name, however Roche is certainly responsible for his fair share of the pleasure of a Moto meal.

(Alana, I wish I had enough experience/perspective to start a topic on the state of molecular gastronomy and the culinary avant garde today, but alas I haven't been to enough of the key restaurants.)

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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  • 2 weeks later...

We ate at Moto on the 10th of May and this was the best meal of our trip to the USA but under unusual circumstances.

While in New York I was called by Moto to ask if we could change our reservation as there had been a mistake with the booking (I had booked up 2 months before), I explained because of flights, meeting an old friend for dinner this would not be possible so they said no problem.

When we arrived the restaurant at 8pm and it was VERY lively but we got shown to the private dining room downstairs and offered cocktails while we waited for my friend to arrive – I was a bit concerned as it looked like the 3 of us would be dining in the room alone and it could have been a bit sterile – how wrong I was.

My friend arrived and we went for the GTM and tasting menus (unfortunately the battery on my camera died but my friend brought hers so photo’s to follow) and thought the food was amazing and our server was attentive, friendly and chatty. And we discovered that a conference had booked the restaurant upstairs so that was why we were in the private dining room.

Around 9:30pm on going outside for a cigarette the people upstairs had left and we had the whole restaurant to ourselves and that’s when the chefs started to bring out and present the dishes with explanations, also as we were alone we could talk about things that would be inappropriate in a normal restaurant with other tables next to us.

In retrospect I wish I’d taken more time to talk with the chefs/servers for foodie reasons but the combination of inventive, tasty and humorous food, sublime service, meeting a friend I’d not seen for years combined to make this the best dining experience I’ve ever had.

Many thanks to all the staff at Moto for doing this for us, it was much appreciated.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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One thing I wanted to say is that pastry chef Ben Roche deserves special recognition. You don't hear his name nearly as often as you hear Homaro Cantu's name, however Roche is certainly responsible for his fair share of the pleasure of a Moto meal.

Isn't he like 23 or 24, thats what I had heard. That makes me feel worthless or at least jealous, what an incredible opportunity. I would love to hear more on him, what did he do before??

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One thing I wanted to say is that pastry chef Ben Roche deserves special recognition. You don't hear his name nearly as often as you hear Homaro Cantu's name, however Roche is certainly responsible for his fair share of the pleasure of a Moto meal.

Isn't he like 23 or 24, thats what I had heard. That makes me feel worthless or at least jealous, what an incredible opportunity. I would love to hear more on him, what did he do before??

I think he was 22 as the pastry chef when Moto opened (so 23 or 24 probably makes sense). Im sure there's more info on him but from what I know he's a Johnson & Wales graduate and a former employee of Trotter's. In my opinion, these are quite some amazing accomplishments for someone his age which has given a lot of inspiration to the young ones like myself and even the older ones.

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

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Another simple way to levitate food is by diamagnetism - foods that contain water (which is diamagnetic) are repelled by magnetic poles, and this type can last forever...the only tricky part is achieving lateral stability...

4 ways to levitate food:

Type a: Negative ion propulsion, most objects, including food have a positive ion charge, if you give it a negative ion charge, they repel. Solids, liquids and gases.

Type b: foams created with a mixture of helium and nitrous oxide

Type c: using a calculated amount of cfm's to push objects upward

type d: using the meissner effect with superconductors and liquid nitrogen (also a futuristic type of "perpetual motion"

All of these forms are still being tweeked for final dishes and I suspect will be complete and on the menu by mid january.

GTM! GTM! GTM!

Sorry, hardly constructive but the sun is shining for what feels like the first time in about 2 months and I'm feeling playful.

The GTM with full wine tasting is expensive. I have a feeling it might have been the most expensive meal I had ever eaten earlier this year. It was more expensive than Trio, but we did kick off with some good champagne so that might have pushed us over the edge. It is well worth having the paired wines, they really do add another level to the meal. The first time I had the GTM here I just drank champagne, which was great but my second GTM with wine was amazing.

That said, there's no point bankrupting yourself for one meal so GTM without wine would win over 10 course with wine for me. But that's because I'm more about the food than the wine.

I'm not sure if the levitating food is on the menu yet but if it is can you post about it? I was chatting with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 about it and he was just desparate to know what the deal was.

Marc Lepine

Atelier Restaurant

Ottawa

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  • 2 weeks later...
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  • 2 months later...

Last week I had a "quick meal" at MOTO. We had to be somewhere so instead of the GTM (Grand Tour MOTO) we did the 10.

The first two dishes were "Greek" and then "Greek Salad again" The first one was grilled octopuss and the second a cucumber infusion with a touch of olive oil. Both very good. Then we had "Caribbean Escolar" grilled Escollar with two "frozen" pieces of pineapple. Simple and delicious. Another winner was the Mac and Cheese with white truffles, served in a glass.

There was also a very good lamb corn dog (it was exactly as it sounds) and a delectable pork shoulder with collard greens.

For those who have been to MOTO, the descriptions above are just approximations to what is served. It was very good, and very good service.

Questions, ask,

t

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  • 3 months later...
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It has been a few years since I last ate at Moto. While that meal was enjoyable with one standout dish that I can still specifically recall (the fish cooked inside the box), overall, my feeling that while it was fun and good, the tricks were the star rather than the flavors and the food. Since that time, it seems to me that Moto has matured as a restaurant. Yes, the tricks are still there and I hope they always will be, however, they were employed with imagination and humor to achieve effects that elevated dishes beyond their usual spheres and into the world of haute cuisine, much like Wylie Dufresne does at WD-50 or Jose Andres and Katsuya Fukushima at minibar. The approaches, imagination and humor at each of these restaurants is of the same ilk, even if their individual styles differ. The technique now appears to be squarely at the service of the food rather than the reverse as each dish was imaginative, fun and most importantly, delicious. Details and photos (hopefully - it was dark) to come after I get home.

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 seems to be an amazing place.

Just one short question regarding one presentation: On several pictures I have seen a "battleship style" metal plate on which dishes were served. What exactly is the culinary sense of this sort of presentation? Are they doing something special with those plates that you don't see on the pictures?

Edited by kai-m (log)
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i ate there about a year and a half ago and if i remember correctly there was a sprig of rosemary sticking out of the vertical 1/w of the 'battleship' so that it was much closer to your face. i do remember cutting the steak and being really uncomfortable because the 'plate' was stainless steel (cutting on stainless gives me the creeps)

i just found the picture and the 'scented' silverware (silverware with herbs attached to it) was what was sticking out of the battleship

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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i ate there about a year and a half ago and if i remember correctly there was a sprig of rosemary sticking out of the vertical 1/w of the 'battleship' so that it was much closer to your face.  i do remember cutting the steak and being really uncomfortable because the 'plate' was stainless steel (cutting on stainless gives me the creeps)

i just found the picture and the 'scented' silverware (silverware with herbs attached to it) was what was sticking out of the battleship

I had a similar dish this past Friday night with cilantro in place of rosemary. I will provide more detail including some photos when I can along with the rest of the meal.

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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My wife and I flew to Chicago this past Friday to spend a weekend to celebrate my birthday. We had done something similar about three (or was it four? years ago with our two eldest sons when we took them to the new restaurants, Moto and Alinea. That first time we flew into Chicago on Friday evening. Of course, our flight at that time was late, so we were late for our reservation at Moto. I had called them once I knew that our flight would be delayed. They were extremely gracious, even as we were a bit frazzled by the time we arrived for our meal. This time, my wife and I flew in on Friday morning and even managed to rest during the afternoon.

We took a cab from our hotel, the well-valued Hotel Burnham in the Loop, through a rain shower to the Meat District and Moto. By the time we arrived at the restaurant, the shower had passed.

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We were seated at a two seat table by one wall and ordered a couple of cocktails. I had a Chorizo margarita, while my wife had The Library.

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Chorizo Margarita

This savory cocktail was delicious with just enough chorizo infusion to give it definition, but not so much as to overwhelm the underlying Margarita. This was the first of a number of outstanding cocktails I would have that weekend. The Library consisted of 8 pipettes containing four different drinks with two pipettes of each. The pipettes were upside down in a glass of ice. One was instructed to suck a little bit from each pipette then plunge the rest in. The contents were good, but this cocktail ultimately fell into the gimmick category.

Our edible menu arrived. Composed as a rebus, it wasn't so much a menu with a description or listing of the various dishes to be served, but rather a brief explanation of how the different menu options were constituted, be they the five, ten and "GTM" options along with their prices. Knowing that we would be in for a late night the next night and still a bit tired from our journey despite our afternoon rest, we were scared away from the GTM by the 5-6 hours ascribed to the meal. Instead, we elected to go for the ten course along with pairings.

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The personalization of the menu was cool, although the legalese above it was somewhat off-putting. The menu itself was a tasty flatbread that was served with ramps prepared several ways, pickled, braised and pureed and a little creme fraiche.

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Nitro Sushi Roll

Our first course was a sushi roll made with the help of liquid nitrogen. Composed of Pacific Northwest king salmon with a tobirashi emulsion, powdered nori, lime vesicles, powdered roasted sesame oil and a yuba skin crisp it was delicious and a great start to the meal.

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Greek Salad

The star of this Greek salad wasf wonderfully tender and flavorful octopus. I have rarely had better.

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Greek Salad Again

The flavor essence of a classic Greek salad, this dish was remarkable for its very simple and minimalist presentation, distilling the myriad of ingredients into a clear liquid with all the flavor - impressive and subtle.

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Caribbean Jerk

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Nitro Pineapple

These two elements were served on the same plate. The cinnamon-scented pineapple was deeply frozen by the frigid griddle with instructions to turn and "sear" the pineapple on all sides to leave "grill" marks. The halibut was extraordinarily flavorful and perfectly cooked. The combination combining contrasting textures and temperatures along with compatible flavors was the epitome of both fun and flavor on a plate.

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BBQ Pork and Baked Beans

A repetitive theme of the evening's dinner was taking home style American and international foods and elevating them through technique and presentation. These dishes such as the pork and beans, the Greek salad and others, are not considered fine dining items because they lack great flavor. It is more because they are typically prepared in basic ways and are parts of our general culinary lexicon. What Cantu has done at Moto and others like Wylie Dufresne, Ferran Adria, Jose Andres and Katsuya Fukushima have done is taken iconic dishes and transformed them through technique and humor into Eliza Doolittles of haute cuisine. Delicious is a given as the flavors approximate or surpass those dishes they are modeled on, the added value coming from imagination, wit and bravado. This dish did just that as it virtually turned a classic southern American dish into something to amaze. The pork was perfect in every way, the beans tasty, the collard greens amazing and the liquefied cornbread magic. Outstanding!

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Pasta and Quail

Though not as iconic as some of the other dishes played on, this too was a variation on comfort food. It was successful as well though not as memorable as some of the other dishes we had.

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Roadkill of Fowl

One needs to have a warped sense of humor and a strong stomach to appreciate and enjoy this daring dish. Fortunately, my wife and I share both of those attributes. The duck confit was delicious, while the beet "blood" added mild sweetness to cut the richness of the duck. I think the dish would have been better without the additional marshmallow sweetness of the white "viscera." This was one of the most visually arresting and gloriously macabre dishes I have ever eaten. It would be ideal for many a themed Halloween party.

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Faux-jita

This was the dish asked about in a post above mentioning the "battleship" like serving plates. That is an apt description for the serving plates as they resemble the playing fields of the classic game, "Battleship." The food on the plate, serve with beer was another example of the elevation of humble but delicious regional fare into a work of elevated cooking. In no way prepared like a classic fajita, it referenced the original in a playful, but totally imaginative and successful way.

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Fruit and Bubbles

The carbonated grapes and fruit are a long-time signature of Moto and one of the few elements that are a direct descendant of my first dinner here.

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Grapefruit

Despite the warning to put the whole orb in and close one's mouth around it, I was still fooled by the wonderful trompe l'oiel illusion and bit into the liquid centered sphere. The mess could have been much, much worse! Actually, the flavors of this marvelous dish were beautifully balanced and nuanced.

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Popcorn Ball

Another iconic bit of fun.

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Carrot Cake

This was set in front of each of us with the admonition to wait and let it sit.

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Chili Dog

This dish was also a play on an iconic American food, however, unlike others on the menu, it was not evoking the flavors of that iconic food. Rather it evoked the imagery, but played tricks by tasting of something completely different. While well done, the concept is one that has been done in various ways for ages. While flavorful and fun, I found this to be one of the least compelling dishes of the evening.

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The Progression of the Carrot Cake.

Continuing the theme of iconic foods, this was perhaps the finest rendition of this classic cake that I have ever had, with beautiful flavor, textures and balance. All too often a good carrot cake is ruined by insipid sweetness. Not so, this one. It was clever, fun and quite delicious.

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S'Mores

A continuation of the iconic theme, this too was, for me, an improvement on the original.

As I mentioned in a previous post on this topic, while I had enjoyed Moto on my first visit, I felt that perhaps too much emphasis was placed on showy technique and not enough on the ultimate goal of the dish. It was not as if the flavors were bad or that they didn't work. Rather, the sense I had was that they played second fiddle, subservient to what brought them together. In this iteration, I felt the opposite. Technique and style certainly remain important, but here they are used to accentuate and elevate the final dish rather than for their own sakes. I welcome this apparent maturation of the restaurant and look forward to returning to experience whatever new wonders Chefs Cantu and Roche and their teams devise.

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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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks for the great report and pictures, docsonz!

Still I cannot figure out the culinary sense of this "battle ship" plate...could you elaborate on that - or is this presentation just a "gag"?

Thank you!

best

kai

I don't think that it is a gag. If it is, I don't really get the joke. The stainless steel made me think of being in a diner and the back elevation allows for the cilantro to be up near where its scent can be picked up easily, however, I suspect that they came across these items and felt that they would make pretty cool presentation plates, which they do. I agree that there is not enough obvious explanation to think that they were specifically designed for that or other dishes.

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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is it just me or did you get the picture mixed up on the bbq pork and baked beans course?

:shock::wacko:

Very strange, as the photo in imagegullet had the correct and same identifier as my original on my computer. In any case, here is the correct photo - re-uploaded:

gallery_8158_5964_41034.jpg

Thanks for picking that up.

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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On the subject of the battle ship plates another thing I noticed was the extra dimension that you have when eating the dish. If the chefs are feeling playful they can actually sauce on the vertical part of the plate, and enable the diner to scoop the sauce while it runs down. Very fun. I did notice that those plates looked difficult to carry though.

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  • 1 month later...

It seems like everybody is ordering the 10course-menu at least - can someone comment on the 5-course-experience? Because *if* we go there (I know molecular cuisine quite well, but honestly, the dishes pictured here look "interesting" but not really "tasty"), 5 courses is all we will try, since we intend to do 3 restos in 3 days (see general chicago thread) and Iam a bit afraid of a "food overkill".

Oh, and: do I get it right that Moto is more of a "casual/informal" restaurant?

And could someone say something about the service? Because I read horrible things about it (snotty, arrogant etc)

Thanks

best

kai

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Oh, and: do I get it right that Moto is more of a "casual/informal" restaurant?

And could someone say something about the service? Because I read horrible things about it (snotty, arrogant etc)

Thanks

best

kai

We went back in March and had a very pleasant experience with the server. Everybody at the restaurant rotates roles so all of the servers have also had experience in the kitchen. If you show an interest in the food (and that is a given if you are a user of this website), the servers can provide unparalleled insight into the cooking techniques. And that is a refreshing change from restaurant servers who cannot even remember the daily specials without a cheat sheet.

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I would like to echo BrentKulman's comments about the service. I am surprised at the comments expressed here. However, every dinner comes with a different set of expectations and service is subjective on both ends.

I have always have had great service at MOTO, nothing less than very professional and highly informed.

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