A work trip has brought me to the Windy City, The City of Broad Shoulders, The Second City, Chi-Town…also known as, Chicago. Not my first trip to Chicago, nor will it be my last. The things I love about Chicago tend to revolve around meat. Italian Beef sandwiches, Chicago Style hot dogs, Tortas Ahogadas…I’ve had visits where I never saw a vegetable that wasn’t covered in something that used to be alive. I’m foregoing some of those love interests in order to find Chicago’s take on poutine.
When I arrived at my hotel it was already 8:15, I had a low-sugar headache, and I was torn between my duty to the blog and my desire for good ramen. I chose the blog and headed out to the Magnificent Mile for some upscale poutine at the Allium restaurant in the Four Seasons. Their menu promoted a Smoked Brisket Poutine for $14, although I was tempted by the $19 Chicago Dog (housemade everything). There was no way I could eat both of those dishes, so I only ordered the poutine. It turns out I couldn’t even finish that on its own.
Sometimes I can’t finish things because the portions are massive. This was plenty of food, but I didn’t finish it because I didn’t like it enough to push forward. There were things that I liked, so I’ll start on the positive. First and foremost, my server (Maria) was awesome. She was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Also, the lobby smelled like my grandma. That was very comforting.
Here’s what I didn’t like. The poutine. Should I be more specific? The sliced brisket on top of the fries looked like a train wreck. I can forgive that if the flavor profile is on point, but this just wasn’t there. The brisket was pretty bland other than the hint of smoke and the occasional whisper of peppercorn. There was almost no salt. The gravy that was in the description wasn’t on the plate, unless the clear (unseasoned) brisket drippings could be considered a gravy. I won’t go that far. The cheese curds were fine. They were creamy and melted.
I had a problem with the fries themselves as well. They were incredibly soggy. This could be due to improper frying technique, inadequate blanching, or too runny of a gravy. It could also be all three of those things. There were about 8 crispy fries, the rest were limp and saturated sticks of starch. And they weren’t seasoned. I should have ordered the hot dog.
While it doesn’t meet my criteria for the blog, I ordered a strawberry mint lemonade. It was nice. Not spectacular, but very good. If I’m paying $8 for a glass of lemonade I want it to be strong enough that I savor it over the course of the meal. I probably could have downed this entire glass in one attempt but I showed some restraint.
Like I said, Maria was awesome, and Allium was a nice relaxing place to enjoy some food. The poutine let me down, and I can’t give it more than a 5.5 out of 10 on my rating scale. I’m a bit concerned that I’ve created an adverse relationship with the Four Seasons, but I’ll trust that my faithful readers will support me in any future litigation.
Sampled on July 16, 2017
To read other reviews from my trip to Chicago, or just Chicago products in general, click here.