Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Vie Restaurant - Paul Virant - Western Springs, IL


Recommended Posts

I've inserted pictures of a few of Vie's dishes into my post above. I'm sorry that their quality isn't better but I was shooting without a flash in low light with a relatively newish camera. Still, in spite of my poor photography, I think the images convey something about how great the dishes are at Vie.

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
On Ronnie's recommendation, my husband and I dined at Vie last Saturday night.  We had the beet salad, gnocchi, hangar steak and the sturgeon.  Everything was perfect!  Wait staff could not have been more friendly and accommodating.  We'll definitely be back.

Jean, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it. I was very close to ordering the sturgeon, myself. Maybe next time . . . :wink:

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...

I had the opportunity to try Ronnie S.'s favorite spot...

gallery_30892_4178_343374.jpg

Tasting Menu

gallery_30892_4178_1406591.jpg

Regular Menu

I decided to go with the tasting menu to get a glimpse of Chef Paul Virant's cuisine.

Amuse

pan-roasted diver sea scallops, local celery root, verjus and grape butter sauce, pickled grapes and tarragon

NV Pol Roger Extra Cuvee, Brut, Epernay, France

gallery_30892_4178_391237.jpg

diver sea scallop

Great start to the meal...scallop was seared perfectly with a great range of complementary flavors

First

Brandade "toasted raviolis" warm pickled kinnikinnick farm baby tomato vinaigrette, arugula and italian parlsey

05 Pecan Stream, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa

gallery_30892_4178_344981.jpg

Brandade toasted raviolis

nice spin on the toasted raviolis...the warm pickled tomato vinaigrette was tasty

Second

poached poussin, winter black truffles, sweet butter, leek and potato galette, braised and shaved celery, lemon vinaigrette

02 Scherrer Winery, Chardonnay, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast

gallery_30892_4178_493436.jpg

poached poussin

Third

Yukon gold potato and garlic gnocchi, hen of the woods mushrooms, crispy heartland farm oxtail and parmigiano-reggiano

04 Barboursville Vineyards, Barbera Reserve, Virginia

gallery_30892_4178_228867.jpg

gnocchi

great mushroom flavor with the oxtail

Fourth

wood-grilled sturgeon, braised house made choucroute, pickle salad, bacon and mustard vinaigrette

03 Fiddlehead "Fiddlestix", Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley

gallery_30892_4178_731652.jpg

sturgeon

Fifth

hudson valley foie gras two ways: seared and cold smoked, pickled cherries, wisconsin watercress, wood-grilled bread

Fonseca Aged Tawny Port, 10 years

gallery_30892_4178_616679.jpg

FOIELICIOUS

Sixth

wood-grilled hangar steak and crispy pickled tongue, braised chickpeas, garlic, house-cured olives, meyer lemons and yogurt

03 Chateau de la Gardine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France

gallery_30892_4178_227770.jpg

hangar steak

champagne sorbet

gallery_30892_4178_495050.jpg

gallery_30892_4178_990708.jpg

dessert menu

the assortment of desserts....

gallery_30892_4178_238810.jpg

meyer lemon panna cotta and ugli fruit

gallery_30892_4178_306145.jpg

warm spiced chestnut cake, house made chestnut and pear jam, seedling farm's cider ice cream, apple chip

gallery_30892_4178_135636.jpg

steamed spence farm paw paw pudding, tahitian vanilla ice cream, lime shortbread, vanilla tuile

gallery_30892_4178_340799.jpg

walnut torte, trader's point yogurt ice cream, candied walnuts, caramel sauce

gallery_30892_4178_183730.jpg

warm coconut gooey butter cake, chocolate sorbet, coconut tuile, chocolate and coconut square

gallery_30892_4178_428489.jpg

mignardises

gallery_30892_4178_217091.jpg

gallery_30892_4178_317550.jpg

pickling pantry

gallery_30892_4178_309660.jpg

Chef Virant and his stash of truffles

Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

Congratulations to Chef Virant

One of the few high-profile chefs to list pickling at the top of their culinary repertoire, Virant is a supporter of using seasonal vegetables and can often be seen on Wednesdays at the Green City Market shopping for his restaurant

Big shout out to one of the good guys, congratulations on Food and Wine top 10 Chefs. Couldn't go to a more deserving team.

Patrick Sheerin

Link to post
Share on other sites
Congratulations to Chef Virant
One of the few high-profile chefs to list pickling at the top of their culinary repertoire, Virant is a supporter of using seasonal vegetables and can often be seen on Wednesdays at the Green City Market shopping for his restaurant

Big shout out to one of the good guys, congratulations on Food and Wine top 10 Chefs. Couldn't go to a more deserving team.

I couldn't agree more. Chef Virant is so deserving of this honor. A few months back, I listed Vie as my favorite Chicago-area restaurant of 2006 and I'm happy to see that the folks at F&W again agree with me. :wink:

It's also nice that they didn't limit themselves to more well-known chefs, within the city limits. And seeing them again recognize yet another Chicagoland chef with this honor is fantastic. Now, I'm not sure I'd count him as a 'new' but if it makes Chef feel any younger, then I'm all for it. :biggrin:

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I had the good fortune to make a reservation at Vie for last night about a week before the F&W news broke. It had been a while since I'd been there and I began jonesing for it. I knew I wanted to get in as the earliest Spring produce (mainly ramps) found its way onto Chef Virant's menu. It's still a bit early for morels or the early SW Michigan bounty but I figured that mid-April would bring a few treats and I was right.

Vie was bustling last night. I've always dined there on Friday or Saturday and the place has always been full. However, last night was the first time I'd ever seen Vie seating diners at 10 pm. Clearly, 'the news is out all over town.' We even spotted (and got to meet) the lovely young lady who got Vie onto Check, Please! Vie was hopping like I'd never seen it before.

As I've said before, ordering at Vie is pleasantly burdensome because it's very difficult to choose from the spectacular array of offerings on the menu. I really believe that the depth of the menu added about 20 minutes to our dining experience last night because it was genuinely that hard to decide what to order. I ended up bypassing the very tempting ragout of burgundy snails with wood-grilled spence farms ramps, fava beans and organic creme fraiche because my wife promised she'd order the lamb (more on this later) as her entree, and it also included ramps.

Skipping ahead just a bit, after we ordered but before our orders arrived, the kitchen sent out for us a delectable amuse of porcini tortellini with young almonds, that was terrific. The tortellini were sublime and the young almonds, which I'd never had before, popped in the mouth as if they had liquid centers. It was a great combination of flavors and textures.

For my appetizer, I ended up with the buttermilk-soaked, pan-fried quail with poached quail egg, wisconsin watercress, spring peas, 'la quercia' prosciutto and balsamic vinaigrette. Needless to say, this was a winner. Not only was it well-conceived but the execution was flawless. The quail was perfectly cooked and its skin was wonderfully crispy. The spring peas were taut and tasty and they burst on the tooth. The sweet saltiness of the prosciutto accented the other components and tied them all together.

I also got to taste the phillip green fried baby purple artichokes with spring garlic, slow-roasted garlic, honey vinaigrette and pickled peppers. These artichokes were out of this world and oh-so-tender. And while they were not local, they were picked and shipped to the restaurant personally, by a woman in Santa Monica, CA, with whom chef Virant is friends. It was a beautiful example of local and global living harmoniously, on the same menu.

We shared a couple of salads that were both quite reflective of the season. One was comprised of wisconsin baby greens and shaved fresh and marinated hearts of palm. It was dressed with a garlic and herb vinaigrette and topped generously with shaved parmagiano reggiano. The other salad was chef Virant's take on a salad lyonnaise. Here however, the salad was comprised of wood-grilled dandelions, roasted parsley root, mixed greens and rustic croutons, dressed with mustard vinaigrette and topped with a single, crispy strip of house-made 'old school' bacon. This salad was phenomenal. Each individual component was delicious and the bacon was fantastic.

A few months back, chef Virant told me that Vie would soon embark on curing their own meats and the glorious proof was in the pudding, or the salad, as it were. 'Old School' bacon refers to a process where the belly is cured and then dry-aged for an extended period of time before being smoked. This extra step of drying, produced a bacon that was even more intense in flavor than typical bacon, with its flavors actually concentrated. As an amateur charcutier who's cured and smoked belly into bacon dozens of times, this simple adjustment was something I'd never heard or read about before. It was an enlightening moment for me.

There wasn't an entree on Vie's menu that couldn't have been my first choice, depending on mood. I could not categorically remove any of the choices like wild tasmanian king salmon, sturgeon, organic ny strip steak or bacon-wrapped and roasted chicken ballotine from contention. What I finally went with was the berkshire pork loin milanese, basted with butter and herbs and served with braised chickpeas, pickled garlic, sauteed rapini and spanish olive tapenade. I loved this dish. The pork loin had a perfectly crusted exterior and beneath resided the moist and succulent hunk of distinctively aromatic berkshire pork. The accroutements fit in perfectly with the pork and I have to give special recognition to the chickpeas, which really took the dish to an entirely higher level. I'd had chickpeas at Vie once before (with a hanger steak) and I've never encountered a chef who prepares them more perfectly than chef Virant. Their texture and flavor were just outstanding. Dry chick peas are not so easy to corrall but at Vie, they are routinely turned out in perfect form.

Happily, I also tried my wife's entree; wood-grilled hill and vale farms lamb chop loin and braised neck ravioli served with spence farms ramps, wood-grilled local carrots, spring onion slaw and lamb jus. It too was sensational and I loved the ramps that had, in part, prompted my call to Vie in the first place. The corn-crusted sturgeon served on creamy byrd mill grits with wilted wisconsin spinach, house-made tasso ham and piquillo pepper vinaigrette was just breathtaking. Again, the components worked together perfectly and the slightly smokey undernote from the tasso was magnificent and inspired.

For dessert, I ordered an updated version of an old Vie favorite. The warm gooey butter cake, which I would put up against any dessert served in the Chicago area, had been morphed into a warm, gooey, peanut butter cake that, if possible, even trumped Vie's original rendition of this St. Louis classic. It was served with a scoop of bittersweet sorbet, a light and crisp peanut wafer and an amazing chocolate and peanut butter fudge square. Awesome! My wife ordered fried banana creme patisserie with maple candied pecans cocoa-banana ice cream and creme fraiche caramel sauce. The patisserie were little donut-esque balls of banana which were moist at their centers and just outstanding. The ice cream was a perfect tie-together for this rich and compelling dessert.

More than any of my previous meals at Vie, which were all fantastic, this was the best. Vie just keeps getting better. As my friend George said repeatedly during our meal, chef Virant does not rest on his laurels. This is so true. The menu keeps changing and evolving to reflect not only the season but chef Virant's seemingly unending inspirations. He takes risks yet the food feels effortless because the ingredients ultimately work so well together in creating perfection on the plate.

It certainly helps matters that service at Vie is so flawless it's almost an afterthought. We again had Thierry waiting on us last night and were so glad to have him. But everyone in the FOH at Vie is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and helpful. Nonetheless, this food is so amazing, I'm not sure that anything could detract from its magnificence.

The cat is definitely out of the bag as it pertains to Vie. It's no secret anymore and I have feeling that it will forever be a bit more difficult to get a table there. But it couldn't have happened to a more deserving chef, crew or restaurant. And if it means that I have to call a bit more in advance to get a table, I will happily accept it. This food is so brilliant, the thought of not eating it while someone who never has gets to do so, is almost as good as being at the restaurant itself. I'm thrilled for everyone at Vie and love the fact that in the wake of what is arguably the best press they've ever received, the food was never better than last night. If this restaurant were in the city, you wouldn't even be able to get a table there anymore. And again, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving group of folks.

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
I had the good fortune to make a reservation at Vie for last night about a week before the F&W news broke.  It had been a while since I'd been there and I began jonesing for it.  I knew I wanted to get in as the earliest Spring produce (mainly ramps) found its way onto Chef Virant's menu.  It's still a bit early for morels or the early SW Michigan bounty but I figured that mid-April would bring a few treats and I was right.

.

The cat is definitely out of the bag as it pertains to Vie.  It's no secret anymore and I have feeling that it will forever be a bit more difficult to get a table there.  But it couldn't have happened to a more deserving chef, crew or restaurant.  And if it means that I have to call a bit more in advance to get a table, I will happily accept it.  This food is so brilliant, the thought of not eating it while someone who never has gets to do so, is almost as good as being at the restaurant itself.  I'm thrilled for everyone at Vie and love the fact that in the wake of what is arguably the best press they've ever received, the food was never better than last night.  If this restaurant were in the city, you wouldn't even be able to get a table there anymore.  And again, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving group of folks.

=R=

High praise...must have been one helluva of meal!! Besides the a la carte offerings did Chef Virant offer a tasting menu? With you and my picky Father as big fans of Vie, it is no wonder the accolades are rolling in.

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
High praise...must have been one helluva of meal!! Besides the a la carte offerings did Chef Virant offer a tasting menu? With you and my picky Father as big fans of Vie, it is no wonder the accolades are rolling in.

No tasting menu on this night. Although, if we had asked for one, I can't imagine our request not being accomodated. But 4 courses (plus the amuse) was just right, especially since we also had pre-dinner cocktails and 2 bottles on wine with our meal. I have a small event planned at Vie for June and there will definitely be a tasting menu on that night.

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I've lived in Western Springs for a couple of years now, although I'm sad to say I've only been to Vie about 4 times - most recently a couple weeks ago. Everything I've ever had there has always been very good.

Last time I had the foie gras - hopefully Village of Western Springs won't follow Chicago's lead and ban it too. Very nicely seared, accompanied by puff pastry and I don't at the moment recall what else.

For my entree, I had the chicken ballotine wrapped with bacon. Delicious, crisp bacon and lovely tender chicken.

I had the nice and generous cheese plate to finish.

It was a Monday evening, and pretty quiet. Bottles of wine that are non-reserve and not available by the glass are half-price on Mondays, by the way. No problems with service.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Heading back to Vie for Mother's Day...also have reservations for May 19. Twice in the same week??? Somehow, I don't think I'll be bored. We were there for dinner a couple of weeks ago. Between us, we had the foie gras (my husband's addicted), I had a fish appetizer (Kampala?) sorry, should have written it down, lamb chop with ravioli, bacon wrapped roasted chicken, warm gooey cake, and a chocolate molten cake, both paired with dessert wine. I thought I would explode because I ate every morsel!! How could I not? Can't wait to introduce family and friends to Vie. Sorry, I should have reported on this sooner so that I could be more descriptive but by now, all of you devotees know how wonderful the food is anyway!

P.S. I love that he offers not just locally grown vegetables but wine also. I've tried a few by the glass that I never would have had the opportunity to try.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

I've been back to Vie a few times since my last post; most recently for a special, birthday-party meal for which chef Virant put together a custom, multi-course tasting menu -- with wine pairings. Of all my meals at Vie, this was, perhaps, my favorite. Below are some images and descriptions of the dishes we enjoyed . . .

vie.gougere.jpg

Wisconsin gorgonzola and thyme gourgere

Light in texture, intense in flavor, these little bites welcomed the guests and activated their palates while cocktails were served.

vie.herring.jpg

House-marinated herring with American sturgeon caviar, organic creme fraiche, pickled Chiogga beets and baby dill

This fish had been 'curing' for 4 1/2 months and it was delightfully intense. The sweet, pickled beets and salty caviar actually highlighted some of the more subtle attributes of the fish. The creme fraiche was a great foil for those intense flavors and the aromatic dill added a perfect top note. This was served with an eye-opening sparkling wine; Gruet Brut (NV) out of New Mexico, of all places.

vie.dumpling.jpg

Brochet Pyramide, aka Walleye Pike dumpling with fines herbes and crab butter

I loved this 'fancy' version of one of my family favorites: gefilte fish. Of course, this rendition was exponentially better than anything Bubbe Suburban ever put out. Here, the dumpling was of a very fine grain and the dish was served hot. If not for the exquisite and herbacious crab butter, I might have missed the horseradish. :wink: This was served with a nicely-balanced 2004 Calera Chardonnay, produced -- without the distraction of much oak -- in Mt. Harlan, CA.

vie.sausage.jpg

Wood-grilled, house-made rabbit sausage with sweet onions, currant mostarda, local mustard greens and roasted-mustard seed vinaigrette

This sausage was absolutely delicious, with a coarse grind, tight definition and a wonderful snap. I tried to ask the chef who made them what specifically was in them but my questions were deftly avoided. It was paired masterfully with a 2000 Franz Hirtzberger Gruner Veltliner from Wachau, Austria.

vie.duck.jpg

Crispy duck breast with spiced cherry gastrique, roasted 'Nichols Farm' cauliflower, Klug Farm sweet cherries and thyme

This tasty dish was a riff on an item served at Vie's stall at the Recipe for Relief event in October 2005, my first taste of chef Virant's food. Here, the dish was expanded upon quite successfully. This was a great combination and the complex spices with which the cherries had been infused picked up the duck perfectly. Roasted cauliflower is one of my favorites and it was a great element of this plate. The pairing for this dish was a phenomenal 2003, Burrell School, Veranda Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz mountains. Not only was it a great match for the dish, it was -- and I do not say this lightly -- the best Pinot Noir I've ever tasted. My friends at Vie tell me that the production on this wine is limited to about 200 cases per year. It's nice to have such friends.

vie.pork.jpg

Pork Combination: Wettstein's pork epigram and pork shank confit with preserved porcinis, spanish olives and local arugula

I'd previously discussed the concept of the epigram with chef Virant and was delighted to see it make an appearance on this special menu. It's essentially pork cooked in its own juices, much like head cheese. After it's cooked a long time it's then chilled in a mold, where it takes on a gelatinous texture. From there, it's removed from the mold and sliced into planks which are then breaded 3 times before being fried. When you cut into this tender cake, pork meat and concentrated juices spill out onto the plate and -- in this case -- onto the awaiting pork shank confit, preserved porcinis, spanish olives and arugula. This dish was, in a word, spectacular. The pairing here was a bold and well-suited 2002 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel from Alexander Valley, CA. I understand this dish might be making an appearance as an appetizer on Vie's menu.

After the pork we were served a refreshing white wine sorbet in tiny little martini glasses, but I forgot to take a picture. After the sorbet, it was time for cake . . .

vie.cake.jpg

Vie birthday cake

This cake was beautiful and delicious. Pastry Chef Todd Feitl was worried that he might not be able to pull off a great-looking cake but he delivered in droves. It also happened to be delicious and the strawberries between layers and in the ganache were stellar.

We were a group of 27 and service, provided mostly by Nathan (who was also the chef who created the rabbit sausage) and Susan, was truly phenomenal. Never once during the meal did a course arrive before its designated wine had been poured. Not once did a guest have to wait for silverware. Not once did anyone need to ask for their glass (of anything) to be refilled. It was textbook. My hat's off too, to GM Jenny Chai, who coordinated both the party and the Vie team, assisted chef Virant with the pairings and made sure that every guest was having great time.

But most of all, it was chef Virant who was the star of this party. The menu was terrific, the execution flawless and the meal played like a great concert, the likes of which may only be heard once. I felt lucky to be a part of this party and knew as I savored every bite, that I was experiencing something truly special.

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

I hadn't been to Vie since late June and with produce season now at its peak, I made a point of getting there this weekend. As usual, the meal was fantastic and I was so happy to taste the season, via chef Virant's vision. Typical of Vie, in addition to the plethora of fresh, local ingredients, a handful of premium ingredients from less-local sources was carefully incorporated into the globally-influenced menu. And happily, as I've come to expect, several house-produced ingredients were showcased, as well.

The meal started with a tasty and intense amuse of escabeche with grapes and arugula. It was a great, palate-awakening bite and unfortunately, I snarfed it down before I remembered to take a picture of it. DOH!

vie.reisling.jpg

2006, Betts & Scholl Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia

With just 2 adults at this meal, one bottle was going to have to do and this one 'did' wonderfully. Nice fruit, good acidity and it paired well with many of the courses we enjoyed. This wine was added to Vie's list by Bob Bansberg (formerly at Ambria), who is currently 'guest-sommeliering' at Vie on Fridays.

vie.scallops.jpg

Pan-seared, "hand-harvested" sea scallops with wood-grilled summer squashes, eggplant caviar, and Spanish olive oil vinaigrette

I loved these perfectly seared scallops, and the eggplant caviar and spears of wood-grilled squash provided nice counterpoints in texture and flavor.

vie.quail.jpg

Marinated and wood-grilled quail with arugula, roasted and pickled peaches, braised local knob onions and quail jus

A great combination and I loved the accent provided by the pickled peaches.

vie.gnocchi.jpg

Yukon gold potato gnocchi with Wettstein's pork shoulder confit, fresh lima beans and parmesan sauce

There's nothing not to love about this dish, which really sang. Every element here was delicious and the house-made pork confit was remarkable.

vie.gazpacho.jpg

Chilled gazpacho with peeky toe crab, finished with Truchard Vineyard olive oil

A great rendition of a classic summer dish. The soup was sweet with just enough acidity and the rich, aromatic olive oil complemented the tomatoes perfectly.

vie.salad.jpg

Salad of local lettuces, marinated and shaved hearts of palm, garlic-herb vinaigrette and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Even a simple salad can be compelling, as this combination of local lettuces was. The garlic-herb vinaigrette was particularly aromatic and satisfying. There was something very distinctive in it which I could not completely discern, possibly mace.

vie.watermelon.jpg

Kinnikinnick Farm heirloom tomatoes with fresh local watermelon, mint and house-made feta cheese

I love this combination and this version was well-executed. The house-made feta really took this salad over the top.

vie.sturgeon.jpg

Sturgeon with tomato and pickled beans

The kitchen sent out this course for us and unfortunately, I don't know all the details. I'm pretty sure the sturgeon -- which was fatty and delicious -- was topped with roasted sungold tomatoes and slivers of pickled squash.

vie.cod.jpg

Day-boat cod combination: pan-roasted fresh and house-made salt cod with City Farm tomatoes, fresh soy beans, wood-grilled fennel and roasted almonds

I don't think I've ever had salt cod in non-brandade form, so when I saw this on the menu, I felt compelled to try it. The contrast between the fresh cod with its crispy exterior and moist, flakey flesh and the rich, braised salt-cod was terrific.

vie.chicken.jpg

Chicken three ways: roasted breast stuffed with garlic butter, wood-grilled thigh, leg confit with local cranberry beans, Green Acres baby carrots and pickled snow peas

I loved each one of these chicken preparations. The wood-grilled thigh had supremely crispy skin and was aromatic with sweet smoke throughout. The breast and the confit were terrific as well and the baby carrots were phenomenal.

vie.kobe.jpg

Marinated and wood-grilled "kobe" steak with bone marrow dumpling, roasted local romanesco, lobster mushrooms, red wine sauce and fried sweet onions

Succulent kobe beef, rich bone marrow dumpling, crispy fried onions . . . an unreal combination that was so delicious. I loved the romanesco, which is rather funky looking combination of caulilflower and broccoli. It paired really nicely with the beef.

vie.cornokra.jpg

Wood-grilled sweet corn and okra

A very nice combination in which the wood was the primary (only) seasoning. I'd never had wood-grilled okra before and it was not only delicious but also a great combination with the sweet corn.

vie.peaches.jpg

Warm local honey-roasted peaches with sweet crepe, local peach ice cream and candied pistachios

An absolutely delicious dessert which showcased the wonderful peaches and chef Todd's mastery of them.

vie.sorbets.jpg

House-made sorbets of blood orange (front), horchata (back, left) and strawberry

These sorbets were all terrific but the horchata in particular could be packaged and sold by the pint. The scoops were topped with house-made shortbread that was delicious in its own right.

vie.buttercake.jpg

Warm gooey butter cake with mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, cocoa mint wafer and chocolate & mint square

In my mind, the gooey butter cake is Vie's signature dessert and it is one the best desserts served in Chicagoland. Here, it's paired with some well-executed minty items but I've had it paired with a number of different elements, over my visits to Vie. We were clanking forks as we "shared" this one.

vie.mignardise.jpg

Mignardise (clockwise, from bottom: sable, lemon gelee, caramel and peanut brittle)

Nice, sweet bites to round out the meal.

Service, provided by Jim, was fantastic and friendly, as always. We've had a bunch of different FOH'ers take care of us at Vie and as different as their personal styles are, one thing persists: excellence. I also want to mention our busser, Ignacio, because it seems that he's always taking care of us and he does a great job.

Again, I'm so glad that we got this one 'under our belts,' so to speak. I love Vie and the food they turn out never fails to please me. I'm probably not alone in my belief that dining there in mid to late August is a must. Ordering at Vie is harder than at any other restaurant I can think of because their menu is so filled with fantastic items. Our party could go back there tonight, not order one thing we tried last night and still be utterly compelled. In fact, I cannot rule out another meal at Vie before this produce season ends.

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Had another fantastic dinner at Vie recently which, if no longer a surprising experience, is no less enjoyable. The only sad part is that we'd eaten a late lunch and showed up a bit less hungry than we normally do. As such, we got to try fewer items than normal but many of them were quite memorable . . .

1vie.amuse.jpg

Amuse of skate wing and pickled red onion

I loved the way the rich skate and the fruity, aromatic olive oil paired with the sweet/tart pickled onion.

1vie.foie.jpg

Seared Hudson Valley foie gras with spiced Scottish shortbread, date puree, roasted local sunchokes and honey crisp apples

Just look at the sear on that piece of foie gras . . . absolute perfection. I loved the balance between the sunchokes and the apples and the way that combination paired with the foie. The savory shortbread was ultra-short and complemented the creamy foie nicely.

1vie.quail.jpg

Wood-grilled, house-made beer-jam-glazed quail with wilted local cabbage, toasted spices, Pleasant Ridge Reserve Farmstead cheese and marinated beauty heart radishes

Another great quail treatment from chef Virant. This man can flip me the bird, any bird, any time he wants.

1vie.scallops.jpg

Pan-seared "hand harvested" sea scallops with toasted tarro root, pine nuts, raisins and local eggplant caponata

Delectably seared scallops were tasty and texturally perfect. They were accented nicely by the caponata which was distinctive but not overpowering.

1vie.beignet.jpg

Celery root fritter with house-made apple butter, preserved meyer lemon emulsion and wood-grilled treviso

Here, I was expecting the celery root to be more neutral and in the background but it was front and center -- and deliciously so. I loved the other accents on the plate, which highlighted the fritters and made the entire composition sing.

1vie.boarsausage.jpg

Warm salad of roasted Kinnikinnick Farm butternut squash, Hillside Orchards chestnuts, preserved local pears and house-made boar salami

I didn't love this salad, which leads me to believe that I'm just not a fan of boar salami. I liked the chestnuts and the squash quite a bit but this generously-portioned salad was so filling, I was a bit worried about finishing it.

1vie.duck.jpg

Plapp Farm wood-grilled duck breast with crispy Byrd Mill grit cake, spaghetti squash, duck cracklings and preserved black raspberry duck sauce

Wow! I loved this combination of flavors and the preparation was wonderful. Every component on the plate was delicious in its own right -- and together, the dish went way beyond the sum of its parts.

1vie.goat.jpg

Slow-cooked Kilgus Farm goat leg with crispy spaetzle, roasted turnips, house-made pickles, mustard sauce and local blueberry mostarda

Not only was this the highlight of the evening it may have been the best entree I've ever eaten at Vie. I don't even know where to start. I've never had goat that tasted like this. The texture and seasonings were perfect. The other ingredients on the plate showcased the goat magnificently: the spaetzle were comforting, the pickles provided great balance for the fatty goat, and the blueberry mostarda brought it all together smoothly. Run to Vie and order the goat (I 'kid' you not). :wink:

1vie.sturgeon.jpg

Marinated and wood-grilled sturgeon with sweet potatoes, roasted cipollinis, organic creme fraiche and roasted, Nichols Farm brussel sprouts

I just had a taste of this dish but the sturgeon at Vie is always delicious and satisfying, and this was no exception. It had an irresistable crust and the interior was tender, rich and flaky.

Not pictured is the marinated and wood-grilled "kobe" steak with a bone marrow dumpling, local broccoli & cauliflower, mushrooms, red wine sauce and fried sweet onions. This was my order on this night because as many times as I'd tasted it (or one of its variations), I'd never ordered it for myself before. The steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare. It was tender, with a little bit of chew (not sure of the exact cut). The sauce was deep and delicious and the broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and fried onions teamed up perfectly alongside the tasty beef. A safe order yes, but one I finally had to experience for myself.

After entrees, we were served small portions champagne sorbet that refreshed our palates and readied us for dessert. As full as we were, I find it almost impossible to say "no" to chef Todd's desserts. I was glad I pushed the envelope this time around.

1vie.icecream.jpg

Raspberry-lemonade sorbet (front), strawberry-banana sorbet (left), horchata ice cream (back) and shortbread cookies; all house-made

A great variety of bright, distinctive flavors here. The frozen confections at Vie are always well-executed. I especially liked the horchata, which was as good as it was the last time I had it.

1vie.buttercake.jpg

Warm, caramel gooey butter cake with almond chocolate-chip ice cream, almond lace cookie and almond toffee square

As I've posted before, I love the warm gooey butter cake at Vie. As the seasons roll by, so too do the specific incarations of this dessert. This time around, the theme was "toffee" and it was a very successful one in that the gooey butter cake pairs perfectly with toffee and its components.

1vie.sweetcorncake.jpg

Local sweet corn cake with maple and white chocolate ice cream, maple-candied walnuts and corn tuile

I loved this eye-opening dessert, which I'd never had before. It was like some sort of uber pancake, with the flavors more intense and complex than in a regular pancake, making it a perfect dessert variation.

1vie.pineapplegelee.jpg

Mignardise of pineapple gelee

Nicely balanced a bit to the sweet side, this little bite left a fresh light note on the palate after a meal of rich and intense tastes.

Vie continues to hum along quite nicely. There's not much to say about it that I haven't already posted somewhere else on this thread. It remains one of my very favorite restaurants and the food speaks to me in a way that almost no other food does.

The sensibility at Vie is one that just feels right. You know you're getting the best of all worlds (local and chef-selected, remote sources) but there's nothing preachy or (as I discussed in person with a friend who is also a fan of Vie) overzealous about it. Vie's menu offers a lot of lessons. But you're not made to feel as if you must learn them (all) in order to appreciate what you are eating. They are there for your consideration, and learning them can certainly enhance your dining experience. But, at the end of the day, the food at Vie is phenomenal whether you care about where the items on your plate came from or not. The real beauty of it is that unlike with so many other restaurants, the closer you look at this food, the more compelling it becomes.

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
Ronnie, Wonderful report as always. But I'm curious. How much do you eat if your hungry? :laugh:

LMAO! :biggrin:

This was a meal for 4, so you have to interpolate a bit. But we normally 3 courses plus dessert (and more often than not, in such cases, the kitchen sends something additional out for us because they figure that we're very hungry). Here, we each ordered 2 courses, plus dessert with the warm salad of boar sausage being a "split" item, so we all could try it.

I hope that clarifies things a bit . . . :wink::smile:

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Does Chef Virant offer tasting menus?  I didn't see any mention of them on his website.

Yes he does. You just have to ask. I suggest mentioning your interest when you make your reservation.

~~~~~~~~~~

Some exciting Vie news:

Sun Times food editor Janet Rausa Fuller reports in today's edition that chef Paul Virant was awarded the title of Chicago's Top Celebrity Chef at the 2008 Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence, which took place last Saturday.

Paul Virant, a west suburban chef with a penchant for pickling, on Saturday snagged the title of Chicago's Top Celebrity Chef at the 2008 Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence.

It was the latest accolade for Virant of Vie in Western Springs, known for its seasonal menu. Last year, Virant made Food and Wine magazine's Best New Chefs list.

Vie's Virant grabs area top chef award

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I had the good fortune to attend a Slow Food benefit at Vie back on February 10. We had a great meal and a great time . . .

Roster of chefs:

Paul Virant - Vie

Sarah Stegner & George Bumbaris - Prairie Grass Cafe

Bruce Sherman - North Pond

Carrie Nahabedian - NaHa

Sean Eastwood - Isabella's Estiatorio & Olo

Todd Feitl - Vie, pastry chef

In addition to the participating chefs, beverage donations were made by August Hill Winery, Goose Island Brewery, Candid Wines, Fine Vines, Vintage Wines and Vin de Vino.

Each of the participants created one passed appetizer and one course, with chef Feitl creating the dessert.

Passed Appetizers . . . accompanied by choice of NV August Hill Winery Sparkling Frontenac Rose, Goose Island Reserve, Honker's Ale or 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

vie.slow.0001.web.jpg

Caveny Farms turkey gizzard with spice bread and heirloom crabapple butter (Virant)

vie.slow.0002.web.jpg

Hazelnut macaron with Uplands Cheese buttercream and bacon (Sherman)

vie.slow.0003.web.jpg

Olo bbq sauce-glazed Country Cottage chicken wings (Eastwood)

vie.slow.0005.web.jpg

Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese crostini with applewood-smoked bacon (Stegner & Bumbaris)

vie.slow.0006.web.jpg

Pata Negra Bellota ham and Manchego cheese with Jonagold apples and beauty heart radish on fennel-raisin toast (Nahabedian)

Courses, in order of service . . .

vie.slow.0007.web.jpg

Poached farm egg with crispy pork galette, apple-celeriac coulis, arugula and pancetta (Sherman)

2006 Georg Gustav Huff, Kerner Halbtrocken Kabinett, Rheinhessen Germany

vie.slow.0009.web.jpg

Another look at the beautiful farm egg

vie.slow.0010.web.jpg

Purdy Family 'Great Lakes' Lake Superior whitefish and kurobuta "fresh bacon" with wood-grilled bermuda onions, spinach, hedgehog mushrooms, celery root remoulade and red wine-lobster jus (Nahabedian)

2006 L'Herminette Rosé, Tavel, France

vie.slow.0011.web.jpg

Country Cottage Farm chicken duo: crisp, olive-brined breast with olive spaetzle, brussel sprouts confit, herbs jus rotle and Ballotine of leg, stuffed with pistachios and apricots; artichoke and coriander casserole (Eastwood)

2005 August Zieglar Pinot Noir, Pfalz, Germany

vie.slow.0012.web.jpg

Mint Creek Farm lamb loin and candied fennel lamb sausage with Tongue of Fire bean ragout and purple potatoes (Stegner & Bumbaris)

2003 Domaine Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone, France

vie.slow.0013.web.jpg

Slow-cooked Triple S Farm beef brisket with crispy bone marrow dumpling, roasted local roots, pickled garlic, garlic chives and red wine sauce (Virant)

2001 Cusumano, Benuara, Nero D'Avola, Sicila, Italy

vie.slow.0014.web.jpg

Wisconsin black walnut tart with Prairie Fruits Farm yogurt ice cream and caramel sauce (Feitl)

Of course, service was excellent, as it always is at Vie. In our case, Maureen took great care of us. Thinking about it, Vie has one of the finest FOH staffs I've experienced anywhere. Across the board, they're professional, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and friendly. Slow Food was lucky to have them 'on the team' for the night.

It was apparent that these chefs enjoyed working together, too. They're all fairly active supporters of the Green City Market, so I get the feeling they know each other pretty well. I was impressed with all the dishes but not exactly surprised because these are some pretty accomplished folks. Great ingredients prepared by skilled hands in a comfortable and relaxed environment . . . what's not to like? It all added up to a most enjoyable night.

=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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...