On a whim, we changed our plans and decided to have dinner at Mado on our last night in Chicago. Having enjoyed the talk and time spent during a pig butchering demo (more in a later post!) earlier in the afternoon at the restaurant, we thought it would be nice to check the actual dinner service out. We also asked if the chef Rob would be open to just feeding us whatever he felt like when we returned in the evening. Having all that set up, we whiled away the afternoon at Goose Island Brewery and a stop at the hotel before the last meal of our inaugural trip to Chicago.
And so it began.
A Charcuterie plate of (clock-wise from top) a rustic country pate with pistachios, coppa, a guanciale, and a pork salume with fennel, coriander, and red wine. The guanciale was this beautifully intense flavour that I found lacking in examples I’d had in Toronto. Good stuff.
Some house-baked bread with mustard and zucchini pickles (bread ‘n’ butter style). A nice accompaniment to the charcuterie. Quite liked the pickles.
Somewhat of a surprise was the liver with sugar peas, rapini, fava beans. Also in the mix was raddichio and sherry vinaigrette. I don’t often see liver on the menu, and when I spy it going by, it tends to be that dry leather version. This was just-cooked and tender – wonderfully prepared and rich. A nice mix with the beans and peas.
This is the pork jowl from the pig-butchering demo earlier in the day. Done with a capicollo cure, then confited and charred. Pickled ramps on top. Simply prepared and tasty.
Pig’s head salad with warm wilted greens (an “Asian mesclun”) and mustard, croutons, and confited piggy head-bits (snout, ear, cheek, etc).
Blood sausage and pork heart. My favourite dish of the night. The Italian-style blood sausage was more solid and firm than the creamy French kind that I prefer. And it was during this dish that I decided that heart is one of my favourite parts of an animal to eat. Beef, horse, chicken, pork – bring it on. This was very flavourful and had this lovely crisp texture… so good.
A specialty of the pastry chef, the migas bark on the left is made of sourdough(?) bread crumbs, herbs and olive oil and then doused in dark chocolate. Really tasty and crunchy. The fat brick of shortbread was airy and light and almost powdery in texture that almost dissolved on the tongue.
Lemon curd on top of a firmer almond pudding. Sided with rhubarb compote and a pizzella. Thought this was an okay dessert, despite its monstrous size. It’s an entire bowl of this confection and far too much given the train of plates that had come by. Would have been satisfied with half that much between two of us. Even without the train!
Cornmeal and almond cake with crème fraîche and strawberry-rhubarb jam. The cake was actually quite toasty-dense which made it hold up really well against the other elements. The crème was a nice balance to the sweet-tart of the jam and when eaten all together, made for a heavenly mouthful. I would have eaten more of this but I was so very full. My favourite dessert of the night – though, the migas bark was really good too.
An enjoyable meal in a comfortable space. We really like the ideology that Rob has – where possible, buying and using whole animals and local sourcing. Nothing revelatory, but I wholly support the connection one has with the animal you eat. Good stuff.
More at Mado
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