Spencer and I celebrated a year and a half (yes, we celebrate it) at Acadia in Chicago's South Loop. A few things attracted me to Acadia: 1) Michael Simon, their mixologist, has been mentioned in the Tribune for his cocktails, 2) it's a new restaurant, dubbed one of the most "ambitious" in Chicago, and 3) the interiors looked so damn classy. The minute you enter, you're welcomed by their super friendly staff who are beyond accommodating. We were seated in a separate dining room so we had a lot of privacy and the noise level was relatively low. Our chairs, by the way, were so comfy that I might have fallen asleep in one had I stayed any longer past dessert.To test Michael Simon's mixology skills, Spencer and I ordered two cocktails: the Mezcal Old Fashioned and the Spearmint Manhattan. Both were easily the best drinks we've ever had. Yes, they beat out anything I ordered at The Aviary. The Manhattan definitely had a spearmint tone all throughout, which was probably due to the "spearmint rocks" (ice cubes infused with spearmint), which never watered down the cocktail. Spencer said it reminded him of Christmas. Spencer's Old Fashioned was very warm and spicy--it had a very "fall" flavor. It was a twist on an Old Fashioned, but delicious nonetheless.
My friend from work, Casey, recommended this place and told me that it gave a way a lot of free little dishes. We were started off with an amuse bouche of seared lamb with ramp gel. It was an adorable little thing that was very delicious. It isn't what I'd call a palate cleanser, nor did it really whet my appetite. It was flavor-packed, surely, but I wish it wasn't so minuscule.
We ordered two appetizers to share. Their risotto with leeks and truffles, and their charcuterie plate, which came with a wild boar terrine, chicken liver mousse, and duck ham. The risotto was very creamy and rich and I'm glad we split it. Our server was considerate enough to serve it in two separate plates so Spencer and I wouldn't have ended up fighting over portions of it. The risotto had a crunchy texture from the leeks and a woodsy flavor from the truffles. The "richness" continued with our charcuterie plate. I piled on the mousse with this apricot preserve they had on the side. Thank god because the fruity jam cut through the buttery goodness of that liver mousse. The dollop of whole grain mustard, of course, helped a lot.
Clockwise from top left: seared lamb amuse bouche, risotto, toast with chicken liver mousse and apricot preserve, and the charcuterie plate
After these two great appetizers, we had our "bread course." I can honestly say I've never had a course like this. We were served buttermilk biscuits with butter and fleur de sel. The salt sprinkling takes this biscuit from a "cool free appetizer" to "holy cow, now I have to eat my biscuits like this from now on." Our server gave us an extra round for free 'cause he was the best.My main dish was the Stonington lobster pie, their famous dish that graced the cover of Chicago magazine. Their bisque was poured over their deconstructed pot pie so I was left with a pool of this soup that my buttery lobster and stewed vegetables were floating on. It was something special. I've never had lobster that tasted like this. The whole concept of the dish was ingenious. Having the elements deconstructed allowed you to appreciate each ingredient that made up the pot pie. Spencer ordered the Gunthorp Farm duck. It was seared beautifully, giving each cut of duck a crispy skin. Crucial. He also had some crispy, spicy quinoa. It was flavored really well, though probably a bit too salty for my taste. Spencer's only complaint was that it was almost like steak in texture--just a bit too chewy. Fair enough, considering our duck meals have always been the confit type.
Our servers asked us if we were celebrating anything right before they brought out the dessert. I thought we would get a free cake or something. Nah, just a candle. Still cool, though. For dessert, we chose to break away from the chocolate and ordered a spice cake, that came with cream cheese and carrot sorbet. The carrot was surprisingly cool and refreshing, with just a little bit of sweetness. There were meringue cookies that added some crunch and more sugary sweetness to the dish. The spice cake was moist and not annoyingly overpowering like fruit cake. It was delicious! Although Spencer looked like he enjoyed it, I know there was this little ache in his heart due to the lack of chocolate in our dessert. It wasn't phenomenal, by any means, but it was a clever dessert, though I'd reach out for their milk chocolate cremeaux next time I get a chance.We were given a complimentary dessert cocktail that was mixed with Moscato. It was sweeter and had some sparkling texture too it. Spencer was still not a fan. And as a little goodbye treat, we were given complimentary mini chocolate whoopie pies. They were small and cute, but the texture and flavor wasn't all there. Well, they were free, so I'll take it.
Happy Anniversary, Spencer. I love you!