Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Merkat - Chicago

This post about Merkat sort of got lost in the wash over the past few weeks.  Merkat, owned and operated by Iron Chef Jose Garces, was the "other restaurant" we ate our during my surprise trip to Chicago three weeks ago.

Merkat had the unfortunate circumstance of following up our dinner the previous night at Moto in Chicago.  Merkat is a tapas restaurant located on Michigan Avenue.  It was a nice, brisk walk from our hotel -- probably 8 blocks -- made more adventurous by the slight drizzle that started once we walked out on to the street.

When we first got there, both of us had a "this is it?" look on our face when we came in on the ground floor.  Then we realized we were in the casual bar area and the main restaurant was up a flight of winding stairs.  The restaurant is one large open space, which can make it loud at times, but it has a nice palette of deep reds and browns.

We decided to order 5 tapas covering a wide spectrum of the potential options on the menu.  We started off with a great goat cheese/pear compote, then followed that with some Catalan Spinach (spinach with raisins, pine nuts, and apples).

For our proteins, we started off with the garlic shrimp, then moved to a sausage/porcini flatbread.  We finished with a braised rabbit pasta that had a brown butter and chestnut puree.

Our dinner was perfectly fine; it was just that DB~ and I looked at all of our tapas (and tasted them) and thought that we could make all of them back home.  At no point during our dinner at Moto did that thought cross our mind.

It was great to eat an Iron Chef's restaurant, especially because it was a such a great surprise to be there at all.  It was a pretty nice run of restaurants, as the previous weekend we were at Iron Chef Michael Symon's Lola in Cleveland.

With Chicago being such a short flight away, I hope that we can go back to Chicago together in the medium-term future again sometime.

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