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Exciting new stuff at Tru!


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They quietly removed the bar and outfitted the salon with eight deuces serving a cutting-edge menu of ingenious, often witty, small dishes. It’s a soft opening of sorts—no publicity.

Half the 10-item menu is caviar based and the rest is listed under a “Savory” heading. “Spectacular” describes most of them, though they’re not what you’d call flamboyant. The spectacle comes from lively flavors, contrasting textures, and exotic technique…and the luxury of choices between Italian farmed osetra, Iranian wild osetra and golden osetra caviar (of uncertain parentage, apparently).

Several of the creations are mind bending, calling for a rethinking of culinary terms, or at least a sense of humor.

A “slow-poached” egg (it cooks for 90 minutes!) develops a unique consistency. It’s turned loose in a creamed-Champagne sauce with osetra caviar and brunoise-size croutons that comprise a symphony of textural variances, with the satiny sauce and delicate caviar beads do battle with the crunchy bread as salty roe, umami-rich cream, unctuous egg, and elemental toasty baguette have their own food fight in your mouth. It’s a wonderful bunch of mouthfuls in one.

“Clear gazpacho” is a mosaic of quarter-inch tiles of sliced fruits and vegetables of varying heights, over which is poured intensely flavored tomato water kicked up with dabs of chile oil and a roasted tomato-olive oil emulsion. You can’t believe how watermelon, raspberries, and cucumber keep their individuality amidst tomato and spice.

A basic portion of Russian osetra takes on new dimensions when contrasted with a test-tube filled with tiny “tomato pearls.” They appear to be a sort of pointy, translucent white roe, but are delicate membranes filled with zesty tomato water. They’re accompanied by teensy toasts less than 1/32 of an inch thick—you can see through them—and a dollop of crème fraîche.

Chef Rick Tramonto’s signature glass “caviar staircase” is predictably available, with choices of sturgeon caviars accompanied by three lesser roes (more interesting, though less luxe) and condiments.

The new creativity, though, comes from other hands: James Beard Award-winning Laurent Gras, who was Chef de Cuisine for Alain Ducasse in Paris and Monte Carlo, and Tru’s Chef de Cuisine Joel Dennis—who was Ducasse’s sous-chef in New York. The salon menu is served every night, giving you a chance to try Tru’s creativity and slick service at less than the $110+ degustation prices. (Dishes range from $12 to $42, not counting Tramonto’s Caviar Staircase.) A $22 glass of Pascal Doquet brut rosé is a suitably luxuriant accompaniment.

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Awesome! I'd heard rumors about Gras being involved in Tru's 'new' incarnation. It's nice to have them confirmed. This is very exciting news. Thanks for the update.

=R=

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

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

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Sounds great!  Is it first come first served or are reservations required?  And how can we get in during the soft opening?

I think all you need to do is go; the menu's printed and in use. They only have 8 or 9 tables (deuces) but I doubt it's crowded...except maybe Fri & Sat.

Couldn't hurt to call & reserve. I imagine their volume is low enough that they don't overbook.

a

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Laurent Gras is working at TRU?

I don't know if he's "officially" at Tru, but he did most of the Salon menu. Lettuce has a pattern of hiring great chefs, using where they can do the most good, and then maybe opening places for them or helping them move on while keeping doors open. I'm pretty sure that's how Jean Joho and Gabino Sotelino came to work for them.

Great way to run a business, no?

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Your killing me.. That sounds like a wonderful thing.. No dessert? I might not be able to handle that..

Actually, the entire dessert menu is available. I think, if you're nuts, you can just come in for that. Maybe that's not so nuts! :wub:

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This week's installment of Chicago Magazine's Dish confirms Gras's involvement. (I received this issue of Dish by e-mail and I assume it will be posted shortly).

=R=

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

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

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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my mom sent me this in an e-mail and thought I'd share.

August 9, 2006

Dish

News, Tips, and Inside Information from the Dining Editors of Chicago magazine

By Penny Pollack & Jeff Ruby

Foie-less Execution:

Last call for foie gras. Any takers? If you can’t get yourself to your favorite enlarged-goose-liver-purveyor before the ban goes into effect, don’t fret: after August 22nd, the new caviar bar at Tru (676 N. St. Clair St.; 312-202-0001) will offer something called “faux Gras.” Turns out Rich Melman, a confirmed foie diehard, charged superstar chef Laurent Gras with filling the hole that this ban has created. “I told him he had to make a substitute that tastes as good as foie gras for Tru,” Melman said. “We’ll be the first to have faux Gras.” OK, so . . . what is it? Melman wasn’t sure. “It might be chicken liver, I don’t know,” he says. “It had that wonderful creamy consistency and it was quite good.” (Note: Tru’s faux Gras won’t be available till August 22nd, but Melman’s office confirmed that the stuff was, in fact, made of chicken liver.)

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Laurent Gras is working at TRU?

Sounds Great!!! When did he start? Any idea who the sous chefs are? I'd love to know who is still there from summer of 2003...

Read above. :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

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  • 2 weeks later...
OK, maybe I'm slow, but what exactly is Gras' role at TRU?  Is he actually in the kitchen or did he just design the new Salon menu?  Will he be making any changes to the other menus?

So confused.

The Tru Lounge menu comes from Joel Dennis, Tru's chef de cuisine. Laurent Gras, who is still in New York, created the "faux gras" recipe, which is served in the Lounge only. Gras is a pal of Rich Melman's and Rick Tramonto's and was asked to do this because Tramonto's tied up with the openings of the four new restaurants at the Westin North Shore (which is actually in Wheeling, leaving me pondering whether the "North Shore" and "Greater Woodfield" now meet somewhere around my house).

Reservations are required for the lounge as well as jackets for men.

Tru Debuts New Lounge

Faux Gras Introduced to Chicago August 22

(Chicago) –Executive chef/partner Rick Tramonto and executive pastry chef/partner Gale Gand present Tru’s new lounge, showcasing various savory dishes, caviar presentations and desserts, to be enjoyed with Champagne or cocktails and offering guests a new extension of the Tru experience, where guests now have the opportunity to order several exquisite smaller dishes in addition to Collection dining available in the main room.

The lounge menu, which is ala carte and created by chef de cuisine Joel Dennis, includes savory items such as Clear Gazpacho with Vegetable Mosaic, Butter-Poached Lobster Salad with Bibb Lettuce and Sashimi Smoked Salmon with Unsweetened Marshmallow.  Caviar options abound, with composed presentations including Spaetzel with Caviar and Tomato Pearl with Caviar and Toast Points.  A traditional caviar service with crème fraîche and blini is offered alongside Tramonto’s Caviar Staircase, a signature Tru dish of four different fish roes and caviar, served with accompaniments, descending the stairs.  Cheese and petit fours are represented on the menu and desserts are offered as well.

One particularly timely dish on the menu was born out the impending ban on the sale of foie gras in restaurants within Chicago city limits.  Rich Melman, chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and partner in Tru with Tramonto and Gand, was searching for a substitute for the soon-to-be-blacklisted delicacy that could be utilized at Tru.  Explains Melman, “Rick, Gale and I challenged long-time friend and chef Laurent Gras to come up with something that would be as creamy, rich and enjoyable as the real thing.  He really came through and we have something we believe our clientele are really going to enjoy.”  Faux Gras makes its debut on the lounge menu August 22.

The menu is not the only change in the lounge.  Now set with granite-topped tables and charcoal mohair chairs, the space is punctuated with several contemporary art pieces, new to the Tru Art Collection.  Ivan Navarro’s radiant “Stay”, composed of wood, mirror and red fluorescent lighting, illuminates the space while James Turrel’s “X-P”, a hologram, explores the way light communicates to the viewer perceptions of transcendence.  The atmosphere of the lounge reflects Tru’s plush commitment to luxury and understatement, culinary spectacle and restraint.

Tru’s lounge is open Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.  Reservations are required and can be made by calling 312-202-0001 or by logging onto www.opentable.com.  Jackets are required for gentlemen.

CAVIAR

SPAETZLE / Caviar $35

SLOW-POACHED EGG / Champagne / Caviar $36

TOMATO PEARL / Caviar / Toast $42

CAVIAR BY THE ½ OUNCE / Crème Fraîche / Blini

Italian Black Pearl Osetra $70

Iranian Osetra Caviar $140

Golden Osetra Caviar $168

TRAMONTO’S CAVIAR STAIRCASE / Traditional Garnish/ Brioche

Italian Black Pearl Osetra $42

Iranian Osetra Caviar $77

Golden Osetra Caviar $91

SAVORY

CLEAR GAZPACHO / Vegetable Mosaic $12

PETITE SANDWICHES $20

SASHIMI SMOKED SALMON / Unsweetened Marshmallow / Frisée Salad $21

LOBSTER SALAD / Butter-Poached / Boston Lettuce $26

LAZ

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They may be offering faux gras in the lounge, but they are still advertising the real deal in the main restaurant:

Tru Grand Collection

Can anyone confirm or deny the prescence of real foie gras at Tru?

I can't do either, however I can say that website for TRU hasn't been updated in at least two years. :laugh:

I wouldn't be surprised if they still did though after looking through the articles posted above.

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I don't remember exactly what type of caviars we had on our staircase when we did the chef's choice menu, but I thought it was black osetra plus others. There must have been at least 1/2 ounce totalI think its interesting that they are charging 1/3 the price of the 9+ course menu just for this staircase.

I think I would rather save up and get tons of courses and all the service as opposed to just one course/snack for those prices. Granted, caviar isn't cheap, but i'm talking comparatively. Also, I think it would be tedious to make a reservation and dress up to go just for 1-2 small bites. Am I off base here?

Perhaps they are hoping more people will see it as the best wine bar in the city?

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Can anyone confirm or deny the prescence of real foie gras at Tru?

They are definitely not serving real foie gras. In fact, I called yesterday to ask a question about the "faux gras" and the receptionist misheard me and said sharply, "We don't serve that. It's illegal."

I think I would rather  save up and get tons of courses and all the service as opposed to just one course/snack for those prices.  Granted, caviar isn't cheap, but i'm talking comparatively.  Also, I think it would be tedious to make a reservation and dress up to go just for 1-2 small bites.  Am I off base here? 

Perhaps they are hoping more people will see it as the best wine bar in the city?

I think the audience is people who don't have to save up to dine there, and don't view putting on a jacket as dressing up -- they wear one every day anyway -- but whose rich, thin, fast-paced lives don't allow them to spend several hours on dinner, even if they wanted to eat so much, which they don't. And their secretaries or butlers take care of tedious details like reservations.

LAZ

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I think the audience is people who don't have to save up to dine there, and don't view putting on a jacket as dressing up -- they wear one every day anyway -- but whose rich, thin, fast-paced lives don't allow them to spend several hours on dinner, even if they wanted to eat so much, which they don't. And their secretaries or butlers take care of tedious details like reservations.

LAZ, I was just thinking it was the "after work" crowd, but your description is much more colorful :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

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Not sure when this "popped up" because Metromix doesn't date their content but Chris LaMorte has posted some additional info about the 'new' Tru:

Prix-fixe meals start at $90. Ordering wine? (Of course you are.) You're now well over $200 for table of two. Chef Rick Tramonto's signature multicourse extravaganzas cost substantially more. Tru's not exactly a pre-theater destination, either--here, food is theater. In other words, it takes time to serve all of all those courses--and when it's over, you may want to applaud. 

Until recently, however, Tru's lounge was simply a place to enjoy a cocktail while you waited for the main event: the dining room. Yes, those in the know always sipped champagne, and nibbled caviar and dessert (after 9:30 p.m.) here. But the newly made-over lounge and the introduction of a lounge-only a la carte menu from chef de cuisine Joel Dennis now lets you tailor a Tru dining experience to your time and budget--provided you're not too stingy with either.

A Tru value?

=R=

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

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

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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