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Review Wed Jan 29 2014

Steaks and More at III Forks

rsz_dsc_0455.jpgWhen my Texan friends unwisely decided to visit me during the polar vortex and found Chicago blanketed in a swathe of soul-crushing ice, they were inconsolable. Dashed were their hopes of ice-skating at Millennium Park, taking selfies at the Bean, and walking along the Mag Mile munching on Garrett's popcorn. After a morose trip to the Art Museum, they vetoed deep dish for dinner and suggested what every comfort-seeking Texan resorts to: steak.

Chicago features a wide range of fantastic steakhouses, including David Burke's, Mastro's, and Mike Ditkas, but we decided upon III Forks, a relatively discreet restaurant near Millennium Park. The architectural duality between wood and glass throughout the restaurant made it feel quite spacious, and although I wanted to dine on the rooftop, I was content being next to the fireplace.

rsz_dsc_0443.jpg III Forks has locations in Houston and Dallas, so I let my friends take the reins in ordering. In addition to a few sides, we split:

Two-Part Crudo: Chilean Sea bass sashimi with pomelo marmalade, pink sea salt and diver scallop crudo with strawberry preserve and mint oil. Texturally elegant, with the slight hit of acid and salt marrying the mellow undertones of fishy umami -- easily my favorite dish of the evening.

rsz_dsc_0449.jpg

Surf and Turf: Molasses and Coriander Cured pork belly with citrus braised baby octopus, papas bravas and mint salsa verde. I generally stray away from surf and turf, but I actually enjoyed the contrast between soft fatty pork and pleasantly-chewy octopus, which were tied together by the acidic and garlicky flavors of salsa verde.

Seared diver scallop with bacon jam and radish. Instead of your traditional bacon-wrapped scallops, these perfectly-seared bivalves were topped with a succulent sweet jam that still had little bacon bits in it. An overall unpretentious and delicious appetizer.

rsz_dsc_0457.jpgFish of the day: Grilled Scottish langoustines with anchovy chive butter, baby artichoke Israeli couscous pilaf and meyer lemon sherry broth. A tasty cross between crab, shrimp, and lobster, the grilled langoustine paired well with the fishy notes of the anchovy butter. But it was the aromatic artichoke pilaf--soaked in an acidic yet buttery sherry broth--that elevated this entrée from your standard steakhouse fare to a distinctly unforgettable dish. Steakhouse seafood is notoriously predictable and bland, as one can always find salmon or some bass on top of sautéed spinach or asparagus. But Chef Billy Caruso certainly showcased his culinary knowledge and creativity with this particular dish, and I was duly impressed. In fact, I would stick with the menu's "Local Favorites" if I ever returned, trying the St. Louis Wild Boar Ribs and Duck 2 Ways.

Tomahawk Ribeye Steak with "king's butter" (black truffle, black garlic, foie gras, honey and sea salt). A fantastically monstrous sight to behold, the ribeye itself wasn't as flavorful as I've had it in the past, but once I topped the steak with the butter, my tongue practically exploded with umami overload. In any case, I wish I could've taken the gigantic bone home with me as a souvenir.

rsz_dsc_0459.jpgMultilayered chocolate ganache cake for dessert. Though my friends wanted the usual Texas Pecan cake and bread pudding, I pushed for the chocolate cake. One cannot go wrong with chocolate cake, and we were not disappointed.

Beyond the food, the overall experience was quite positive. They even served Dr. Pepper, which we Texans value as much as our gasoline. Our server Anton was particularly gracious and accommodating, pacing our meal to match my friends' hungry requests. Even if the weather proved less than stellar in Chicago, at least we had a good time dining at III Forks.

III Forks
180 N. Field Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 938-4303

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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