El Che Bar
845 W. Washington Boulevard Chicago, IL 60607
About El Che Bar: Housed in the former Checker Taxi building, El Che Bar is Chef John Manion’s spirited Argentine-American restaurant, a tribute to the time he spent traveling throughout that South American country. Cooking directly over open flame is the allure of this spot located in the West Loop.
Cuisine: Wood-fired Argentinean-American fare and South American cocktails
Popular Dishes: Veal sweetbreads, beef short ribs with red and green chimichurri, thin-cut pork chops
Décor: Warm and eclectic with South American influences; a black marble bar adds elegance
Featured Dessert and Wine Pairing at El Che Bar
Chef Marianna Reynolds, a Jean Banchet Awards nominee for Rising Pastry Chef of the Year, created the Smoking Affogato, a theatrical presentation in which smoke is trapped in a clear co ee glass and released tableside with a hazelnut milk espresso pour. Along with creating the theatrical effect, it enhances the flavors and textures of the dish. The Smoking A ogato is served with a cannoli sweetened with dulce de leche, spiked with espresso and laced with a hint of heat in the pizzelle cookie.
Dessert wine plays a prominent role, as it is served with praline ice cream spiked with a sweet Italian Marsala wine and a Marsala espresso caramel. Chef Reynolds suggests that the Smoking A ogato is best paired with the Mancino Vermouth Chinato from Piedmont, Italy. “It is earthy and slightly spicy with its intriguing botanical blends,” she says. “It gets the mind racing and the tongue ready for an experience.”
Maple & Ash
8 W. Maple Street Chicago, IL 60610
About Maple & Ash: Maple & Ash celebrates the best of the classic steakhouse. With a curated menu by acclaimed Executive Chef/ Partner Danny Grant and an extensive beverage program from James Beard Award– winning sommelier Belinda Chang, Maple & Ash sets a high standard for the steakhouse experience.
Cuisine: American Steakhouse
Popular Dishes: Caviar, shrimp De Jonghe, roasted seafood tower and bone-in cowgirl steak
Décor: Urban sophistication that lends itself to a romantic evening or girls’ night out; also the perfect backdrop for a business gathering
Featured Dessert and Wine Pairing at Maple & Ash
Chef Aya Fukai, a Jean Banchet Awards nominee for Rising Pastry Chef of the Year, created the chocolate bombe as one of Maple & Ash’s signature desserts. A triple chocolate cake is hidden underneath a layer of bourbon-tinged bananas and vanilla ice cream. It is then covered with a chocolate dome that gets melted tableside with a bourbon caramel. The rich creaminess of the dessert is accompanied by wafer pieces covered in dark chocolate surrounding the dome. The surprise of something under the chocolate dome and the over-the-top decadence of this triple chocolate cake make it the top seller at Maple & Ash.
Partner and Director of Wine & Service Belinda Chang recommends a beautiful selection of aged Madeira, any of which will suit the dessert beautifully. Your preference depends on how decadent you are feeling.
707 N. Wells Street Chicago, IL 60654
About GT Prime: With an emphasis on sourcing from local farms and cuisine highlighted by seasonal ingredients, Executive Chef/ Partner Giuseppe Tentori has curated a meat-centric menu indicative of his signature sharable plates.
Popular Dishes: Carnivore platter; rabbit leg confit with potato puree, black garlic and portobello jus; gnocchi Genovese with basil pesto, sweetbread crouton, haricot verts
Décor: Dark, sleek and whimsical; designed to look like a fairy-tale forest with chairs lined with faux fur, light fixtures resembling trees and taxidermy on the walls
Featured Dessert and Wine Pairing at GT Prime
Chef Andrea Coté recommends a lighter finish to your steakhouse dinner with the Meyer lemon crème brulee, a blend of fresh lemon marmalade and a heaping of tangy blueberries.
To complement this sweet and sour flavor palette, she suggests the Disznókő Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2007, a Hungarian dessert wine. It has honey and berry flavors to enhance the blueberries, as well as acidity that makes the wine seem drier than it actually is when enjoyed with the Meyer lemon crème brulee.
1015 N. Rush Street Chicago, IL 60611
About Nico Osteria: Nico Osteria brings Italian seafood to Chicago’s Gold Coast. The dining room sets an elegant stage for Chef Erling Wu-Bower’s house-made pasta and impeccable seafood.
Popular Dishes: Brussels sprouts bruschetta, stu ed pappardelle, fritto misto di pesce
Décor: Bold and rich interior design that evokes an intimate art gallery
Featured Dessert and Wine Pairing at Nico Osteria
The sourdough bombolini, classic donuts with a modern twist, are the master creation of Chef Leigh Omilinsky. The donuts are served with toasted fig leaf cream, passion fruit, graham cracker and fig leaf gelato.
They are best paired with a sweet white wine like a Reisling, preferably Germano Ettore Langhe (2014). Since the donuts themselves aren’t very sweet and have a bit of a sourness at the start, the sweetness of the wine is the perfect enhancement. The toasted fig leaf crema and fig leaf gelato add a coconut interest.
1729 N. Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60614
About Boka: Over the past 12 years, Boka has become one of Chicago’s favorite restaurants for creative American cuisine with its great design, warm hospitality and award- winning chefs. Since arriving at Boka, Partner/Chef Lee Wolen has received a Michelin Star in 2015 and 2016 (Boka has received six consecutive Michelin Stars), 3 Stars and Chef of the Year from the Chicago Tribune, and Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year at the Jean Banchet Awards.
Cuisine: Seasonal American
Popular Dishes: Roasted chicken with cabbage, onions and tamarind; slow poached egg with cavatelli and mushrooms
Décor: Stylish and modern with a lounge and candlelit garden patio
Featured Dessert and Wine Pairing at Boka
Meg Galus, Pastry Chef at Boka, Cold Storage and Swift & Sons—winner of Pastry Chef of the Year from the Chicago Tribune and a 2016 James Beard nominee—recommends the co ee & hazelnuts for dessert served with pralines and whole milk ice cream.
Boka Wine Director Kyle Pepperell suggests NV Warre’s Otima 10-Year Tawny Port. “It has a hint of sweetness with notes of almond, hazelnut and to ee. There’s a nice bit of acid to balance out the sweetness,” he says. “The nuttiness of the wine really plays well with the nuttiness of the dessert.”