Every year, in the period between the year end busy season and the first mini-busy project of the new year, I plan some sort of vacation to recuperate before doing it all over again. And this year was no different. Except for the fact that instead of seeing family, a never before visited locale, or a theme park, we planned a vacation purely around eating. Eating at Grant Achatz’s Next Restaurant to be exact, but more on that later other than the fact that hard earned reservations spawned an entire trip to Chicago and a dinner on our first night at Tru Restaurant. I’ve wanted to eat at Tru ever since I bought Rick Trumonto’s Amuse Bouche recipe book (due to a Tumblr recommendation years ago). Even though Rick apparently severed ties with Tru since then in order to make his way down to New Orleans, I was still interested in visiting his former home, especially after my dad had proclaimed Tru to be the best restaurant that he’s ever eaten at in the US.
And I do have to say, when it was all said and done, our dinner was pretty legen-wait for it-dary. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We opted for the menu with the most food on it (it was called something much more elegant than that, but the name escapes me right now) and were quickly onslaught with 16 dishes, all of which fortunately were manageable because (1) I can eat a lot and (2) except for the main fish and beef plates, the dishes were each only a couple of bites, stemming from the Thomas Keller school of thought about providing small bites to leave the customer wanting more.
And while the food itself focused on showcasing how well they could cook wagyu beef and salmon and less on the gimmicks of molecular gastronomy, the serving platters took on a modern flair as they changed from glow in the dark bowls and split logs to a huge cocoa bean on a cocoa bean leaf. The service was outstanding and yet relaxed at the same time, something I personally appreciate because it makes me feel less like an impostor dressing up in her mother’s clothes. This one poor girl had me cracking up the entire night. Cute, short and blond, she must have been low man on the totem pole as her job was to lug out every dish from the kitchen, including the heavy logs of meat, while the muscular guys (albeit top-notch waiters whom clearly earned their way to their seniority status)* waited patiently for her to make her way towards them before raising a finger. At one of her exasperated rolling-of-eyes and sighs I couldn’t help myself, I burst at laughing at her distress (wow, that sounds horrible – really my heart was going out to her!). But much to my chagrin, my laughter brought the attention of the higher-ups down on her – and they did not look pleased. I hope I didn’t get her in trouble, since I found the entire situation enchanting. The whole night was!
*Dude, I stood up from the table and a waiter took one look at me and started walking ahead of me… escorting me to the ladies room.
I do have one negative comment, purely on another customer, and added only as an anecdote The party next to us responded to the, “how did you enjoy your dinner?” generic question with a tirade about how the truffles were not needed in the soup and blah blah blah (I tuned out the rest of what she said for fear of getting nauseous). She didn’t see why you couldn’t just pour a teaspoon of truffle oil into the soup and call it a night. Really? Really?! Miss high-and-mighty had a problem with fresh truffles. And she wasn’t done. She commented that she knew her truffles because she was [redacted nationality]. Ma’am, I don’t care if you are Italian (she wasn’t), if you aren’t the 1%** of the nation taking your pigs or dogs into the back-country forests to forage for the wonderful tartufo – keep your annoying mouth shut. And being the bitch that I am, as I walked by her (and the respectful waiter nodding and trying not to look pained) on my way out the door, I turned to Ryan and MAYBE stated loudly, “well, I certainly had a wonderful night, but maybe that’s because I am knowledgeable and classy enough to know that sake can be served both hot AND cold” which was in reference to what first brought the Queen of Truffles to my attention earlier in the night when she protested over being brought cold sake as part of the alcohol pairing option because, “sake is only served hot.” To his credit, Ryan looked annoyed with me over my comment as he usually does when I decide to be obnoxious.
**made up number
I don’t want to end on a bad note, so to summarize: if you get the chance, eat at Tru. It really is phenomenal.