Growing up, Allison Schroeder, the Albert’s Pastry Chef, enjoyed baking with her mom and grandma.…
Chicago is a fantastic city for dining, with wonderful restaurants throughout each neighborhood that have received high marks and boast top Chefs for culinary design.
Yet while you will still enjoy an impressive meal simply by booking a reservation and ordering off the menu, you have the opportunity to elevate your dining experience by inquiring for recommendations and being open to experimentation and gastronomic adventure. These tips will take it up a notch.
Try the Tasting Menu
There is reasoning behind a Chef’s curated tasting menu. Chefs fuse distinct; yet, complementary flavors into these dishes where the components all work seamlessly together on the plate and as a full, numbered-course meal.
So, while you might have your eye on a particular menu item or two, it is a good idea to trust the Chef’s thought process and experience an artfully designed and innovative preparing.
What’s more, the tasting menu is often the most seasonal menu you will find at the restaurant, so it is the perfect time to really experience high-quality foods at their peak in readiness.
Chefs have the freedom to experiment with produce that’s fresh on the market or that have short growing seasons, so it is a special time to indulge in some of the season’s finest offerings. For instance, rhubarb is only available for 3-4 weeks a year, so it is hard to create a rhubarb dish that is permanent on the main menu.
Ask the Sommelier for Tips
Nothing pairs as nicely with a delicious lamb shoulder or fish filet as a glass of wine. However, while you may love a good Cabernet, it might not be the best option based on what you are eating.
Certain notes in the wine can either work against or enhance the flavor profile of meats, fish, and vegetables, so you will want to make sure what is in your glass is working in your favor.
The sommelier will have recommendations on the best wines to choose from based on which foods you are eating and what your general wine preferences are like. And if you are not ready to commit to three or four glasses, which might be in a wine tasting, it is a good way to experiment with something new and see if you would like to continue with it for the rest of the meal or ask for another option from the sommelier.
Trust Your Server
In addition to inquiring for advice from the sommelier, you should also ask your server for recommendations on the Chef’s specialty items for which he is most known. If they are guaranteed crowd-pleasers, you know they are worth trying.
Go for a Wine Tasting
Why choose one glass of wine when you can try three right off the bat? Wine tastings are not only fun—as it is a way to experiment with different grapes and keep the meal interesting—but the pairings are also crafted to boost the overall dining experience and fully bring out the hidden nuances within different dishes.
You should definitely ask the sommelier for guidance on which tasting to choose based on what foods you are ordering, as well. For instance, you would not want to order a very sweet, dessert pairing to go with steak—a few varietals of red might be preferable to achieve that nice balance in your mouth.
Interested in dining at the Albert? Book a reservation.