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inventolux

Moto Restaurant - Chicago

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viaChgo, thanks for the clarification on the scallions being cooked sous-vide.

inventolux, I'm waiting.

klinger - touche - I do apologize. I'd add that Trio's been around for more than 10 years now - but I know what you meant - under Mr. Achatz.

chefg, I'm happy - very, very happy.

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I went to moto last night. It's really, really cool. It's hard to put into words how exciting and fun it was. food tastes pretty good too! check it out while it's still byob if you need to save some cash. i brought a cheap alsatian pinot gris that i thought worked with the majority of the food.

mike

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i can't wait to eat here. i am planning my next trip to chicago and WILL be eating here.

please keep me drooling with lots of reviews...


Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Dinner at Moto on Tuesday night...brillant.......This is going to be fun.


--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

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I went to moto last night. .... food tastes pretty good too!

a few details?


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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I dined at Moto last week.

I wanted to love it, I really did, but alas, I did not.

Chef Cantu is to be commended for his efforts to be creative, but in many cases the creativity was overwhelmed by flavors that did not contrast or coexist well. This coming from an experienced fan of experimental cuisine including stops in Paris, London, NYC, San Fran, as well as the Trotter, Keller, Achatz and chefs of that calibur. When I write this review, these are the benchmarks I am comparing Moto to because: 1) of the degustation format and price, and 2) Chef Cantu's experience.

The herbacious utensils dish looks great, but the single bites they deliver are just OK. Without really making an effort to get your nose on right up on the herbs, it also doesn't work as an olfactory addition. The virtual smoke box, however, did work and was a pleasant addition to the dish.

Other dishes were plated by servers who needed plenty more experience... our server(s) was earnest, wanted to please, but simply seemed nervous and overwhelmed. He was also charged with plating some dishes at the table (the egullet-famous steamed bass in a box) -- and while the bass was a highlight (great flavor, perfect texture), the box interesting, watching the server struggle to gingerly remove the bass from the box and plate it elegently was something that I wish Chef Cantu could watch... I think he would come out and do it himself!

The atmosphere is stark, clean, and NYC. Techno music at 140 beats per minute drove the evening. An odd contrast for a long tasting menu, even such an experimental one. The waiters' black lab coats were a great thought -- very asian, somehow.

Some dishes were good, some others missed the mark entirely. On the whole, one was left feeling that this was a bit of a sterile exercise. Transitions from one course to another seemed slap-dash -- unrelated and surprising in a mixed-up way. One did not feel a sense of unified whole here..

I really hope the service and atmosphere improve. There are fixable problems here, and I love to see that another Chicago area restaurant has embraced this style of cuisine. Keep in mind that there was also no wine service yet and the restaurant has been opened only about a month.

I should also add that I am a long time reader of Inventolux' posts on this forum, and that I respect him (Chef Cantu) very much. I post this honest review in that light -- real feedback from a culinary fan.

I will personally give Moto another try, waiting a few months for them to get everything in order.

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Thanks for your review, chifoodie, and welcome to eGullet.


Noise is music. All else is food.

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Only one proper and honest warning: I'm setting up to review the place and whoever's in is gonna have to put up with my usual scribbling and cooing and purring and snarling and muttering.

:raz:

So how is that different from any other time? :laugh:

It sounds like Moto needs some time to pull a few things together, so two or three months from now would be about right for a general Heartland visit. Plus the weather will be so much nicer for us potential visitors.

Obviously I haven't been there yet, but please let me cast a vote for 86ing the techno music.


"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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Only one proper and honest warning: I'm setting up to review the place and whoever's in is gonna have to put up with my usual scribbling and cooing and purring and snarling and muttering.

:raz:

So how is that different from any other time? :laugh:

:wink:

The rest of the time I snarl/mutter/purr/coo in complete sentences. And: the rest of the time I write legibly.

:cool:


Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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An evening dining with Lady T is always an edu-tainment. Therefore, count me in!

:biggrin: We might be able to drag along a buddy of ours too :wink:

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:blink:

Aaiiieeeee, the expectations!

:rolleyes:

All right, all right: I love it.

:raz:


Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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I just speechless - I can't believe that Chicago - where I grew up - is ready for this kind of cuisine - very cool.

Chiacgo has been privy to this cuisine for over two years.

It is called Trio and it is in Evanston.

Seems like alot of influence on Motos menu came from Chef Achatz. :hmmm:

Just a thought.

Klinger:

How are you?

OK, I feel the need to comment on this now while it is still in it's early stages. I have said this before, when people commit to work outside of the box they unintentionally enter a smaller box. I assure you Moto's cuisine is as original as Trio, as the Fat Duck, as Veyrat, as Gagnaire and so on. So chef Cantu has attached rosemary to silverware, does the intentional olfactory sensation become a link to Trio's lobster with rosemary vapor. NO. When something is new it is scrutinized, analyzed, and deconstructed. People will find the common demoninators where they want. They will try to imobilize the movement. They will corrupt the style to the point where they disable themselves from enjoying a wonderful meal because they overthink it. Please, go to Moto, come to Trio, these are restaurants that are taking risks, introducing a style of cuisine new to this country. We should all be happy that Chicago is now leading the country in culinary innovation.

Chefg,

what a classy post.

Inventolux and Hobbes,

best wishes and the best of luck.

If I get to chicago, I'm there!


2317/5000

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..........This is going to be fun.

This it what its all about. It continues to be the main focus at moto, as the old saying goes.........do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.

Are we fine dining? Yes, however I feel the days of strict dress codes are fading. If im about to drop 350.00 for two I want to wear anything I want. Are we globally influenced? Sometimes. Are we pushing the envelope? NO, but that day is coming.

All we can do is continue to explore our imaginations, when reached that limit then the envelope will begin to stretch. That has to be our focus.

Klinger, sorry you feel that way, im sure you will change your mind if you come in for dinner. The new shift in gastronomy is gaining speed, nothing can stop it from catching up with technology at this point.

Gotta go, fun is calling.


Edited by inventolux (log)

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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What do you hope for, for the future of moto? What do you think that it can bring to the rest of the culinary world? I see alot of promise in the work that is being done here... I wish nothing but the best for you.

Just wondering.... places that are moving forward in food seem to still depend on classic wine service. Now I love wine, and everything that it stands for, but will we see some thing differnt offered here?


Edited by cbarre02 (log)

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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We will not offer a wine list per say, just wine progressions. Every tasting menu will have a new world and old world pairing offered with it. We feel the best way (and the only way) to experience moto is to allow us to set the parameters for wine and food pairing. A wine list would be futile when exploring this type of gastronomy, so we have decided to minimalize it altogether. It just makes sense from a financial and creative standpoint.

As far as the future of moto..................

as long as every new team member is totally commited to forgetting their past experiences and retaining only a high level of attention to detail, moto will carry forth in an acceptable fashion. Idiscourage all of the cooks from reading cook books and only focusing on knowledge of ingredients. Techniques are things we can invent and reinvent.

Thank you for your kind words, it means a lot.

"Omar"


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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So it's been a little over a month... I hate to ask, but how are things going?

Best of luck!


Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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We will not offer a wine list per say, just wine progressions. Every tasting menu will have a new world and old world pairing offered with it. We feel the best way (and the only way) to experience moto is to allow us to set the parameters for wine and food pairing. A wine list would be futile when exploring this type of gastronomy, so we have decided to minimalize it altogether. It just makes sense from a financial and creative standpoint.

As a sommelier, this is a very interesting statement to me. Rather than minimalize the winelist, why not focus it? It doesn't have to be loaded with big, oaky and buttery chardonnays, (ick) pinot grigios, sweet shiraz and monster cal-cabs. I would be interested to see a listing of your wine pairings. Is it listed on your website, yet? When people go out to spend a lot of money on a memorable dinner, the NEED a winelist. Focus your list on things that compliment your food. You pick the parameters. Buy wines in all the price categories. You'll be surprised.


Edited by Mark Sommelier (log)

Mark

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We will not offer a wine list per say, just wine progressions. Every tasting menu will have a new world and old world pairing offered with it. We feel the best way (and the only way) to experience moto is to allow us to set the parameters for wine and food pairing. A wine list would be futile when exploring this type of gastronomy, so we have decided to minimalize it altogether. It just makes sense from a financial and creative standpoint.

As a sommelier, this is a very interesting statement to me. Rather than minimalize the winelist, why not focus it? It doesn't have to be loaded with big, oaky and buttery chardonnays, (ick) pinot grigios, sweet shiraz and monster cal-cabs. I would be interested to see a listing of your wine pairings. Is it listed on your website, yet? When people go out to spend a lot of money on a memorable dinner, the NEED a winelist. Focus your list on things that compliment your food. You pick the parameters. Buy wines in all the price categories. You'll be surprised.

Normally I would agree that offering customers a choice in styles and prices can only be a good thing, but having just dined at Moto last night (don't worry, I'll get a review up soon), I have to say that the wine pairings were so brilliant and unexpected that it would be counterproductive to present a wine list. The food and wine worked so well together that it really was a "sum is greater than its parts" experience. Unless I was supremely well versed in a huge range of wine styles and vintages (which I'm certainly not), as well as knowing what I was going to be served based on the rather coy menu descriptions, there is no possible way I could have come close to making choices from a list that worked, let alone enhanced the cuisine.

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Ok here goes my first real post. Hopefully not too long or boring.

My friends and I dined at Moto last Friday, the following are my first impressions.

Ambience.

Moto's exterior facade does not present itself as a restaurant, where you can see the diners (unless you put your nose to the glass and focus to the rear) or have any description to what the establishment does. One may interpret it as a bar, nightclub, or even a gallery. I thought it is was a bar that would turn into a club atmosphere as the evening progressed.

Upon entering, there are a few small tables, perhaps for reservation-waiting customers. The main dining room is an extension of the waiting space at twice its depth. Room is dark and invites a change of moods from the waiting space. Transitioning through brightly lit waiting space, into the dimly lit dining area, allowed us to relax and prepare ourselves for 'the experience.' This is a nice detail. :biggrin:

The staff, dressed similarly in black, Dr. Evil-esque tops, matched the minimal esthetic to the interior, with its tall beige colored fabric booths and dark walnut venered table tops. The lighting is even throughout the dining area. IMHO, I had wished there to be a series of small/minimal pendant downlights that would accent the dishes. The music selection was varied. Not necessarily techno, more hip tunes that range in beats per minutes. The music was at a comfortable level and did not distract from the dining experience.

Food.

We had the ten course and brought our own wine, not knowing that they had just gotten their liquor license. Generally speaking, the food preparation and presentation is expressive of the chef's other interests (read the Tribune article, see below). I want to focus on my two favorites, the amusing "flat" ware with toro and the pacific bass baked tableside.

The amusing "flat" ware with toro, was a great introduction to "the experience." Flatware it was not. Imagine a long metal rod, pounded out at one end to represent the shape of a spoon and then curly-qued at the base of the to act as a handle with depth. The ingenious part is that a sprig of lavender was inserted into the spring-like coil of the "flat" ware. By default of function, you are forced to use your sense of taste and smell at the same time to experience two different ingredients separately. This reminds me of the chefg's rosemary bath/spa/vapor at Trio.

Earlier in a previous post "Moto Restaurant", people have been writing about 'herbacious utensils.' I wonder if this is the same as the 'amusing flatware?' If so, I like the sound of herbacious utensils, better. It has a higher hippness factor than amusing flatware, that goes with the overall aesthetic. The chef has taken great care to create these innovative dishes, with (sometimes) custom made vessels, why not continue the fun and play with the name of items on the menu.

The toro reminded me of Bobby Flay rubbing his special spices on the Kobe beef in an Iron Chef battle with Morimotto in Japan. Everyone gasped at Flay for introducing other flavors to such an incredible ingredient. I was feeling the same way when I heard that there would lavender introduced to the dish. But since fresh fish should not have a strong aroma, the slight and uplifting smell of the lavender made (IMHO) a perfect pairing. The toro was a melt in your mouth experience. The texture was creamy, almost like soft cheese that would melt with the heat of the mouth. It was not as sweet as I thought toro to be. I understand there to be three types of toro. I do not know where this one fits into. Have not had enough toro to know.

The pacific bass baked tableside was fun. We received the dish a course before we were to taste it. It sat tableside in a soft acrylic rectilinear box with boiling water at the base, a screen to hold the fish 2 inches above and a cavernous top to move the heat around. One would expect there to be an abundant collection of water droplets along the insides of the box, not allowing you to see the ingredient, but there was only a minimal amount. Almost like a bamboo steamer that collects some of the water, perhaps this box does not allow the act of condensation. I assume the box was preheated and because it has some weight, can hold temperature longer. Nice detail. Somebody was paying attention in science class.

Ohh, and the bass. Perfect texture, wonderful color, flaked in exacting pieces and full of flavor. The bass was another melt in your mouth experience. :rolleyes: I am going to be experimenting this technique at home. :raz:

Complaints.

Not all the dishes were on the same level as that of the toro and bass. Some a little better, some a little worse. I wish that I could tell you more about the other dishes, but I dont want to spoil the fun and your experience (read: I have to get back to work). My only real complaint is that we did the 10 course and not the 18. And would have allowed for the wine pairing. :smile:

Overall.

I am amazed at the attention to detail that goes into the experience of the dishes. There is an awakening of multiple senses as one goes through each item. The chef is really having fun in creating, experimenting, presenting, naming his works. I hope that my next experience will be completely different.

Yeah, I would go back. This man respects ingredients and uses minimal, but prime, seasonings. I thought, it's so simple we can all do this at home. Yeah right. This reminds me of Nobu. In his cookbook, he states that even if you were to follow his recipes exactly, Nobu is quite sure that you would never be able to perfectly recreate the same flavors and textures that he makes. "For I always put something special in my food, my heart, or kokoro as we say in Japanese..." :cool:

Other notes.

I found out from our sever, that we missed chefg (Grant Achatz) by a couple of days. :shock: I would have paid money to hear those two talk (ohh wait, that's egullet is all about). I noticed that they are both under 30. I wonder if this has anything to do with their desire to think outside the box. The origin of the name Moto interests me. Can anyone chime in on this. I wonder what this means in other languages/cultures. And what does the Kanji character (on the website) mean. For more reading, check out this Triune article:

Science-minded Moto chef is willing to experiment

Side bar.

I called Moto to verify the menu I had a couple of days before. I spoke with a gentleman who was unable to help me. He insisted that he transfer me to the Chef. At that moment, thoughts of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential raced across my mind. Where Bourdain gets a call from a purveyor during lunch trying to sell him something. Bourdain lets him rattle on until he puts him in check and unloads to the guy. On hold, I was about to hang up for fear that the same might happen to me, but of course I had waited to long. I got the Chef. I had asked him a couple of questions about the menu items, and he relayed the information in as much detail as needed. This was much more than what I had expected. In fact, if I did not call at 4:30 on a Thursday, he would have told great stories about each of the items on the menu. So thanx for your time Chef.

:smile:

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Thanks for the report, yt, and welcome to eGullet. Could you possibly post a link to Moto's web site; it appears to be eluding Google. I wonder if the kanji on the web site is moto.


"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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I wonder if the kanji on the web site is moto.

Alex

I took a look at the link you provided. Was not the one. But I did attach an image. Any thoughts to the character.

kanji.jpg

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      Now that we had more space, and the ability to give each station multiple heat
      sources regardless of their location in the kitchen, we could spread the workload even further. We also realized it doesn’t make much sense to identify each station by classic French Bragade terms. A saucier did not solely cook meat with classic techniques and prepare various traditional stocks and sauces…in fact quite the opposite. This holds true with most of the stations, with the exception of pastry, but even they will have very unconventional techniques, menu placement and involvement in the kitchen systems. We will add a station that will be responsible for a large majority of the one-bite courses both sweet and savory.
      5.Given the size constraints of the building we realized a walk-in would not be possible in the kitchen. If we were to have one it would be in the basement. Having experienced this at Trio we decided to design the kitchen without a walk-in, making up for the space in various lowboy locations and a three-door reach-in. I experienced the walk-in less environment when I worked at Charlie Trotter’s. It is certainly different, but as with most things if done properly it provides a very efficient environment. It works best in situations where fresh products are brought in daily for that days use. And prevents ordering in large quantities. It also provides us with very specific units to house different items. We will utilize the 3-door refrigerator to store the majority of the vegetables and herbs along with some staple mise en place, and items that cannot be made in very small quantities like stocks. Raw meat will have it’s own lowboys as well as fish, dairy, and all frozen products.
      6. At Trio we found ourselves using the salamander a great deal. It is very useful for melting sugar, bringing on transparent qualities in things like fat and cheese, cooking items intensely on only one side, and it is a highly controllable non-direct heat source. Due to the air gap between the foodstuff and the heat elements the cook can control the degree of heat applied to the dish based on the technique he is using. It becomes a very versatile tool in the modern kitchen, so much so that we will install three Sodir infrared salamanders.

      Again, this is to insure that all the cooks have access to all of the techniques in the kitchen. As I said before it is important for our cooks to be able to sauté, simmer, poach, fry, grill, salamander, and freeze at the same time and sometimes for the same dish.
      We have a few unusual pieces of equipment in the kitchen; the most is probably a centrifuge. A few months ago Nick and I were driving home from a design meeting and ended up talking about signature dishes and menu repetition. Of course the black truffle explosion came up and he asked if I would have it on the menu at Alinea. I replied a firm no, but shortly thereafter said I would enjoy updating it. We threw around some tongue and cheek ideas like White Truffle Implosion, and Truffle Explosion 2005….I said it was a goal of mine to make a frozen ball with a liquid center….but then dismissed it as nearly impossible. Within a few minutes he said …”I got it…we need a centrifuge” His explanation was simple, place the desired liquid in a spherical mold and place on the centrifuge…place the whole thing in the freezer. Within days he had one in the test kitchen. I guess this is better suited for the kitchen lab topic that we will be starting in a few weeks…
      We are working on a upload of the kitchen blueprints. When those post I plan on going into more detail about certian aspects of the design. Doing so now would be pointless as the viewer does not have a reference point.
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