Saturday, June 12, 2010

Branch 27 - Chicago, IL

The girls and I went to dinner a few weeks ago to Branch 27, which is in West Town. It's been getting a lot of press recently since they brought on a new chef. The building used to be an old library, which they regutted into a restaurant. They have these great big windows that fold open to the side, letting you feel like you're eating alfresco but without the sun beating down on you. My kind of place! A little boy decided to sit on the ledge, facing inwards. Funny kid, little does he know that the view outward is far better.

We started off with some drinks. I got a glass of Sangria, which when it arrived, looked like water with cherries in it. I've never seen Sangria this clear looking before. I was expecting white wine but it tasted oddly like a cocktail. I thought the waiter mixed up my order, but he said that their version has St. Germaine in it. Weird. It was not quite what I was expecting. Maybe that's what I get for ordering sangria at a non-Spanish restaurant.

Susan got the Gin Blossom, which had Hendrick's Gin, St. Germaine, Grapefruit, Lime & Prosecco in it. It was quite amusing to see Susan drink her cocktail so she wouldn't accidentally swallow those cute flowers floating in her drink.

We started with some appetizers. We got an order of Spicy Pork Meatballs with Coconut Curry, Basil and Peas. It came in a cute little cast iron pan and it definitely had a Thai influence to it. It was pretty good.

I was looking forward to their Grilled Octopus and Braised Pork Belly Salad, I know, Pork Belly Salad sounds like an oxymoron, but the waiter told us that it's only on their menu every other week or so depending on the quality of the octopus that week. So we were out of luck because they didn't have it on their menu. They did have a butter lettuce salad and a grilled radicchio salad. We chose the later, which had shaved brussels sprouts, Pecorino Romano and Marcona Almonds. Aleen loved a Brussels Sprouts salad she had in New York recently and we were hoping this would rise to the occasion but Branch 27's version was a bit bland for my taste. It lacked a vibrant punch and acidity that would have made this a lot more tasty.

Aleen got the Branch Burger with Hook's 2 Year Cheddar, Spicy Aioli, Ramp Relish and Fries. I had a bite and it was pretty tasty. I loved the relish.

Susan had the Bucatini pasta, which looks like a thick spaghetti with a hole through it. (BTW, I highly recommend the Pasta Yia Yia at Lula Cafe, which uses bucatini pasta with browned butter, crumbled feta, browned garlic and Moroccan cinnamon - I know it sounds weird, but it works, trust me). Branch 27's version with Mushroom-Black Truffle Cream, Smoked Spring Onions and Dumbarton Blue is definitely more hearty.

Because I couldn't get my pork belly fill, I got the Chile-Cured Pork Loin, Truffled Great Northern Beans and Swiss Chard. I wish the pork loin wasn't as well done, because it wasn't a bit on the dry side, but I guess that's what the sauce was for. The beans and swiss chard were excellent.

We were too stuffed by the end, so we passed on dessert. I wouldn't mind coming back to try their octopus and pork belly salad (it just sounds so intriguing) or for their brunch, but there's so many other places to try first in the westside. Hopefully Branch 27 will make the cut in the second round.

Branch 27
1371 W Chicago Ave
(between Ada St & Noble St)
Chicago, IL 60622

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