Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spiaggia Cafe and the Signature Lounge at the John Hancock Center: Chicago, IL

I haven't posted in almost 2 weeks as there have been quite a few celebrations to attend and also dealing with the frustration of my computer finally on its last leg. I've been debating over what I should get next so if anyone has suggestions please forward them. 

I really wanted to do a post on our experience in the Dinning Room at Spiaggia but my dinky camera really can't do justice to the meal lit by candlelight. We had a scrumptious 7 course tasting menu with wine paring of which the highlight was a lobster carpaccio. It was light and fruity and unexpected since I've never had lobster as a carpaccio before. By the end of the night I was stuffed beyond belief and I was told that the pairings would be tasting pours but they ended up being generous full pours. So... as you can imagine I had difficulty manning a camera by about the middle of the meal.

{Lobster Carpaccio ~ The Dinning Room at Spiaggia ~ Chicago ~ April 2010}
On our last evening we decided to dine at Cafe Spiaggia, the more affordable sister restaurant next door. Though it shared the same name sake and restrooms, the differences were very apparent as it lacked the pomp and meticulous service of its older sister. The gratis bread came out in a basket instead of a server coming by with his tray to ask us what types of rolls we were interested in. It also lacked a maître d who'd come by every so often to check on how we were doing. It's not like I was expecting the same types of special touches as we did walk out of Cafe Spiaggia for about 1/6 the cost of the Dining Room but it was still interesting to see the differences under practically the same roof.

{Carpaccio: Thin slices of raw beef with lemon, arugula, crispy capers and shaved 
Parmigiano Reggiano}
In retrospect, what we should have done was eat at the Cafe before we tried the Dinning Room. I realized I was comparing the experiences the whole night. I found the carpaccio for the night to be a lovely combination of flavors and the crispy capers to be a delight yet still yearning for the lobster carpaccio from the night before. 

{Paccheri: Hollow tube pasta with olive oil poached tuna, corno di capra peppers, olives, tomato and mint}
The paccheri was one of my least favorite dishes of the night. Honestly, the poached tuna tasted a whole lot like caned tuna... the stuff that comes out of a Chicken of the Sea tin. I love Chicken of the Sea when I'm making tuna salad but not when I'm eating a pasta dish on the Mag Mile. The Olives where too pungent for my taste and I think the tube pasta was rather large and clumsy for the dish.

{Tagliatelle: Hand crafted pasta with braised duck, leeks, Yuppie Hill poached egg and Pecorino Romano}
Tagliatelle was a pasta dish more to my liking and more on par with what I was expecting from the Cafe. The duck was nicely done. Pasta was al dente and not overwhelming like the tubes from the previous dish. Oh and who doesn't love a good poached egg? Mr.K thinks its very in right now to top just about anything with an egg. I find that breaking the egg is always a pleasure and the silky golden yolk just coats a pasta or salad dish wonderfully, giving it that extra little uhmph.

{Special for the night: Braised lamb over polenta and mixed vegetables}
The special for the night which was a braised lamb caught my eye. It probably should have just stayed that way and we should have just ordered something off the regular menu. I found this dish incredible gamy. I'm huge fan of lamb but the gaminess was a little more than I could handle. I don't think it was poorly executed... just not my taste so Mr.K being the good sport that he is helped to finish my portion of the dish.

{View from the Signature Lounge at the John Hancock Center}
It was still a relatively early evening so we headed over the the Signature Lounge at the John Hancock Center. I thank Hal for this suggestion. Instead of paying to go to the Hancock Observatory on the 94th floor, why not head up to the Signature Room/Lounge which is at the 95th and 96th to enjoy some drinks and a FREE view? Chicago at night from this high is lovely. Its's so flat and the lights seem to go on forever.
The Dinning Room at Spiaggia
Level 2
980 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

Cafe Spiaggia
Level 2
980 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

The Signature Room and Lounge
The John Hancock Center, 95th and 96th floor
75 North Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

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