The first dinner we had out after a weekend of fantastically wonderful eats in Chicago was at Menu6. I’ve said it 1,000 times and say it in the masthead above: we may not have the quantity as other cities, but we most definitely have the quality – and then some. Our dinner at Michael Herschman’s new restaurant (in the former Boulevard Blue space on Larchmere) could easily hold its own in Chicago and beyond. Our good eating definitely continued upon our return.
Our visit was on behalf of Metromix. Personally, I was thrilled to review this place. I’m a big Herschman fan and have been since he had Mojo’s back in the day. My only complaint is that he moves around too much. I like my chefs to stay put so I know where I can find them when I’m craving some of their specialties (like his famous calamari). But, it sounds like he’s ready to plant some roots and couldn’t be happier with the location, menu and focus of the restaurant. And from what I’ve sampled so far, I’m pretty happy too.
Here’s part of the review (full review here):
Veteran chef and true talent Michael Herschman eagerly returns to the kitchen with Menu6, bringing back some of his well-known dishes (all the way from his Mojo days), plus an entirely new array of flavor and creations.
Food: The number six is the restaurant’s foundation, as Herschman explains, and reflects how the menu came about. Specifically, the menu (including dessert and wine menus) is sectioned into six elements: raw, small hot and cold, green, water and feathers, land and sides.
Chef Herschman is focusing on market-driven dishes dictated by skill, seasonal ingredients, local whenever possible and lots of big, bold flavors. What you won’t find on his menu is comfort food of any kind—or chicken (though if you look really hard, you’ll see the chef caved slightly with Kentucky “foied” chicken as a small plate.).
On our visit, we started our meal by sharing the seafood salad with calamari, dayboat scallops plus shrimp in a sesame vinaigrette and wasabi creme fresh (under green; $11) and Thai beef with noodles in a red curry vin (under small hot, $6). Dinners included the crispy skin whitefish with red chili, miso broth, udon noodles, choy and lobster dumplings (under water and feathers, $19) and a 14-ounce Meyer Family Ranch ribeye with root vegetables and foie bordelaise (under land, $28.).
This dinner is why we like Michael Herschman so much and enthusiastically welcome him back. Our appetizers, which are generously sized and can easily be shared or serve as a small meal, were packed with flavor, quite fresh and beautifully presented. The Thai beef, with its sweet potato noodles (making it gluten-free) features a good amount of heat plus a mild sweetness to contrast it. The seafood salad, which varies day-to-day based on what’s fresh, is a must-try with its generous amounts of seafood and incredible freshness and flavor; we simply loved it.
Dinners continued to impress. If you’re a steak fan, your next dinner out should be right here for this 14-ounce ribeye. This marbled steak is packed and roasted in aromatic salt which cracks right off during the cooking process, leaving behind an incredibly juicy, tender and flavorful piece of meat.
The chef has a well-known Asian style and many of our selections spotlight his fondness for this cooking method. With a striking intense deep orange color, the crispy whitefish was beautifully presented. Our only complaint was with the two lobster dumplings that tasted a bit bland. Otherwise, we enjoyed it—especially the miso broth.
Under dessert, the six include chocolate, vanilla, fruit, coffee, sweet tooth, cheese. We bypassed the cheese and tempting banana pot stickers for the chocolate pot de crème ($8) with madeleines, truffles and ice cream.
Décor: The team did a rather extensive makeover from the previous restaurant and the result is a stylish space that matches the food-forward approach. It’s a good mix of cozy contemporary with the exposed brick wall that adds warmth and a mix of stainless steel and dark woods. Throughout the space, contemporary paintings done by Herschman’s mother, Sheila, don the walls. The kitchen overlooks the 80-seat open dining room and a good-sized bar with beautiful wine display just offsets the rest of the space. There’s also a private dining area that can be draped off.
Bottom line: While Herschman has definitely moved around over the years, there’s no question that he is one of the city’s most talented chefs. And with Menu6, it appears as though he’s found the ideal setting to showcase those talents and will no doubt make this one of the area’s most popular dining spots.