Saturday, February 21, 2015

French Dine and Wine in Hyde Park

French Dine and Wine in Hyde Park

We've been wanting to visit La Petit Folie in Hyde Park (Chicago) for a while and used the occasion to meet with friends Dr Dan and Linda since its about a mid-point between us. Hyde Park is the enclave on Chicago's South lakefront known for the Science and Industry Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright landmarks, and of course the University of Chicago. Soon we'll know if it is home to the Barak Obama Presidential Library, whom also happens to have his family residence nearby.

One of the neighborhood attractions to be found in a community full of culture and academia is the French Restaurant La Petit Folie. Even on a cold Chicago winter night it was a wonderful dining experience, meeting or exceeding our expectations in all respects - food, atmosphere, ambiance, value, ease of access and parking, and their hospitable BYOB wine policy.

All the starters, entrees and desserts were delicious, creative and thoughtfully prepared, presented well, and with large portions. Three of us ordered off the price fix offerings, but also supplemented our course with a additional first course from an list of enticing and delectable choices.

They have a carefully selected full wine list - all French appropriately, with 28 reds, nineteen whites and a half dozen sparkling wines and rose. They also offer a dozen and half wines by the glass to fit all categories and tastes. Their prices are reasonable with a bottle of authentic champagne available at slightly more than the four glass price at a total price of about 1.5 times retail price - the appropriate pricepoint, fair and at good value (many restaurants are at 2 or even 2.5x, sometimes more).

I called ahead to validate the BYOB corkage policy, then to accompany our dinner, I actually brought three different French selections from which to choose, for a proper pairing with our entree selections - A Right Bank and a Left Bank Bordeaux and a Chateauneuf du Pape - each bottle was twenty plus years of age.

Les Entrees

Dan and I both indulged in the pan-seared foie gras with  roasted pear, brioche toast and Belgian endive salad; Port shallot sauce. Linda (M) had the casolette of shellfish with lobster - shellfish and wild mushrooms with lobster medallions served warm over pasta al nero. Linda (A) had the goat's cheese tart with ratatouille; small salad of arugula and cherry tomatoes.

For the main course Linda A and I both had the Boeuf en Carbonnade a la Flamande - beef braised with onions, tomato and pale ale; red cabbage braised with apples, baby peas and parsley potatoes. I had preselected this from the web menu and it happened to be available from the price fixe offerings. Linda M had the Salmon Choucroute - salmon wrapped in brick pastry and served with Alsatian sauerkraut and Brussels sprouts; double mustard cream sauce.

Dr Dan had the Pork Chop Alsacienne - boneless center-cut pork chop with sauerkraut, roasted baby potatoes and warm salad of broccoli and broccoli rabi; double mustard sauce.


Our dessert course was the Apple Tart Tatin - the Tatin sisters' upside-down caramel apple French vanilla ice cream and three of us had the Chocolate Bombe - chocolate mousse on chocolate hazelnut torte draped in dark Belgian chocolate.

Phelan Segur Saint Estephe Bordeaux 1996 

I have enjoyed meeting the producer and tasting the recent releases of this Grand Cru at the UGC tastings in Chicago the last three years. This twenty year old is hitting its stride and may be at the peak of its drinking window, was a perfect accompaniment to the foie gras, the mushrooms and the beef flamande, not to mention the dark chocolate desert. 

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, black berry and black cherry fruits accented by floral aromas of dusty rose and violets that increased over the course of the evening, with tones of spicy black tea, smoke, and hints of graphite, tobacco leaf and hints of leather on a dark red berry fruit and floral lingering moderate tannin finish.

RM 90 points.

Davis Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

Davis Family Vineyards Russian River Valley Old Vine Zinfandel 2002

Thin crust pizza with sausage, pepperoni and spicy sauce and a plate of hearty cheese calls for fruit forward bold expressive pizza wine. Davis Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley answers the call - not complex or sophisticated but easy drinking, single dimensional and focused.

The fact this was a small format 375ml bottle may have contributed to its aging to the point of being in the last stage of its drinking window for this twelve year old. Lasting that long speaks well for this label, indicates a pretty robust and stable wine, and appropriate cellar conditions. Glad I pulled this from the cellar and caught it in time, appropriately for a weeknight wine and pizza experience.

Dark inky purple colored, medium bodied, at twelve years of age the fruit has turned to bramble black berry accented raisin tones with a layer of leather and tobacco.

RM 87 points.