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Seven Courses at Pluton
August 06, 2004 | 3 Comments

Thursday night we took on Chef Jacky Pluton's fine dining destination, Pluton, for some special occasion dining. Chef Jacky was the chef/owner of Jacky's Bistro in Evanston, an EatChicago favorite. The entire experience at Pluton is as far from bistro dining as you can get. The room is finely appointed, calming, and classy. The menu is designed around tasting menus with four choices: four, five, seven, or ten plates. The smaller choices allow the designer to comprise their own menu, while the seven- and ten-plate options leave you in the hands of Chef Jacky. We chose seven plates along with the sommelier's recommended wine pairings, leaving ourselves completely in the hands of our hosts.

A glass-by-glass and plate-by-plate recap:

Amuse: After polishing of a celebratory glass of champagne, we were treated to a two-plate amuse (not one of our seven plates). A one-bite spring vegetable salad and an oyster with celery in a peanut-butter emulsion. The peanut-butter and oyster was a nice, creative flavor to get the appetites moving.

Maine lobster salad with sea asparagus, pineapple-pear chutney, grapefruit sorbet: The lobster and pineapple was a sweet combination, cool and refreshing with a mild flavor. The delicious, fresh-tasting sorbet was served in a separate flute. Served with a 2000 Riesling Alsace, "Andlau", Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss. Overall an excellent start; bright cool and refreshing.

Plancha-seared foie gras with lemon curd, roasted beets and micro greens. The sweetness from plate one carried through into the lemon curd which made a nice pair with the rich, generous foie gras. A tiny bit of sea salt was seared into the foie gras which really started to introduce stronger flavors into our evening. Buttery and luxurious, this plate was just a start, but already a highlight. Served with a 2002 Gros Manseng, Costes De Gascogne, Domaine du Tariquet.

Fresh and smoked salmon "hure", cauliflower puree, caviar, bagel. I was amused by this nouveau-take on lox, bagel, and cream cheese. The "lox" was a fresh/smoked salmon terrine. The cream cheese was represented in a dollop but carried in texture by the cauliflower puree. The "bagel" was tiny bagel chips served with minced egg. And the traditional capers were replaced with a line of caviar across the terrine. This was a nice dish, but slightly disappointing since it tasted too much like lox and a bagel, which I had for lunch. Served with a NV Joseph Perrier, Brut Rose. The dry champagne was an excellent pairing. I'll pick up a bottle next time I make a run to New York Bagel & Bialy.

Pan-seared tuna, mustard red wine sauce, thai eggplant. The ahi tuna was served studded with licorice sticks (natural, not the candy). We were instructed to chew the stick, remove it from our mouths, and take a bite of tuna. I tried the tuna in this manner and plain, for comparison. The licorice brought out a dramatic change in flavor. While I do think seared ahi tuna is a bit overdone, the presentation and creativity were dramatic with this dish. The licorice, eggplant, and a caramelized banana were strong flavors. Served with a 2000 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, "Homestead Vineyard", Van Duzer.

Our next plate was preceded by the presentation of steak knives, which we chose from a wooden box.

Bone marrow-crusted beef tenderloin, 7 spice reduction, porcini mashed, roasted shallots. We hit the peak of richness with this course. The tenderloin was perfectly cooked and surrounded by rich, complex flavors. The roasted shallot and smooth porcini mashed potatoes were a nice sweet accompaniments. Served with a 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Clos du Val.

All-american artisanal cheese plate. A large cheese cart was brought out from which we chose a selection of goat cheese, blue, camembert. Served with two fantastic chutneys: pear-chili and green tomato and the most delicious wine (and finest pairing) of the evening: NV Porto, Tawny 10 year, Taylor-Fladgate.

Now the parade of desserts: Chocolate tart fondant, raspberry ice couli, a perfect warm chocolate tart with sweet raspberry flavors all around. Oven-roasted strawberry, almond soup topped with an almond cookie of some sort (nice, but a bit-player next to the tart. Blueberry-vanilla ice cream The blueberries were a warm reduction over a rich vanilla ice cream. Chef's special tiramisu, didn't taste much like a tiramisu that I've ever had, but the custard at the bottom of the cup was perfect. Desserts were served with a 1996 royal tokaji, tokaji aszu, 5 puttonyos, Hungary and a NV Raspberry Wine, Grayslake, IL, Glunz Family Winery & Cellars. The Hungarian wine was a treat, like nothing I've ever had, and the toast to IL was a super-sweet raspberry brandy.

Next came coffee and a tray of delicious little cookies. Sated and relaxed, the 3-hour meal was coming to an end.

A visit from the chef topped off our evening. The attention and service were of perfect 4-star quality. Attention to every detail. Pluton's creation was truly a treat.

Check out Pluton at 873 N. Orleans, Chicago, 312-266-1440. Be advised, you will pay 4-star prices at Pluton (it was the most expensive meal I've ever had, but worth it).

Posted 08:35 AM
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