Takashi, Chicago, IL

— November 2011, our four-year anniversary

To celebrate our four years together (and that we also miraculously had the day off), we decided to try out a new restaurant, Takashi, in Bucktown. We were intrigued by the menu, with its French style fare with Japanese influences. So we bundled up against the blustery cold and headed down to a new part of Chicago.

We almost missed the restaurant, as it looked to be housed in a converted house. The interior was elegant and modern, with just a hint of Asian influence in some of the art. We were seated upstairs in a cozy booth built under the sloped ceiling. We perused the menu and decided on getting a bottle of bubbly, Avinyo Cava Brut Reserva from Spain. If we both ordered a couple of drinks each, then it pretty much ends up being the same price, so why not enjoy a tasty bottle of sparkling wine? It wasn’t long before we were sipping our carbonated beverages and filling up on tasty French bread.

For whatever reason, we were remarkably swift in our menu decisions for the evening. Not that there wasn’t a goodly number of tasty options to choose from…we just knew what we wanted when we saw it. I, not surprisingly, went straight for the Seared Quebec Foie Gras with poached peaches and rhubarb in a Port-huckleberry reduction. David, also not surprisingly, started with Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with mustard soy, caramelized English radishes, wilted spinach in a roasted shallot jus. It had been some time since I’d sampled foie gras, and it was like re-uniting with an old friend (a delicious creamy, melts-in-your-mouth sort of friend). The Port-huckleberry reduction was a nice complement, as it gave tart and sweet flavour to the creaminess of the foie gras. For David, he noted that sweetbreads don’t really need a sauce; however, the mustard soy, an interesting Japanese injection, stood up (and possibly stepped on slightly) the sweetbreads. Nonetheless, it was delicious. It had been breaded in rice flour–the crispiness that resulted was a nice contrast to its creamy insides.

David decided to order the roasted loin of young rabbit and braised leg, with sage, mushrooms and chestnuts, topped with pancetta chips. I went with the seared skate wing with roasted butternut squash agnolotti, mushrooms and braised red cabbage in a cider-caper reduction. David’s rabbit was not the least bit dry, but rather, moist and tender. And the pancetta chips, well, everything is better with pancetta chips in the world. All good. Searing the skate gave it a nice texture, the slightest bit of crispiness on the outside against its moist insides. A delicious sauce over the skate and mushrooms. Now, the butternut squash agnolotti…at first bite, I literally said “Holy shit!” Divinely good. The sauce wasn’t obscenely rich but yet so flavourful, and the butternut squash stuffing of the pasta was so very very creamy. I carefully parceled out those four or so pieces of agnolotti, being sure to take small bites and spread it over the course of the dish. Our bottle of bubbly did us well, as we finished it off just as we completed our meals. We concluded with quick wake-up espresso for David before heading on our way, full and satisfied. Happy anniversary!

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