With perfectly executed dishes and wonderful service and drinks, the Blanchard in Lincoln Park is one of the city’s best French restaurants.
When I walked into the Blanchard and spotted Michael Simon (Celeste) and Arunas Bruzas (Acadia) mixing drinks behind the bar, I immediately knew that the cocktails would be among the city’s best—great news for an area that doesn’t have many notable cocktail bars. Simon came onboard for a few months to develop the opening cocktail program, although once Bruzas takes the reins, things will be in his highly capable hands. But as good as the drinks are (and they’re quite good, particularly the negroni), the main reason to go to the Blanchard is for owner/chef Jason Paskewitz’s (Gemini Bistro, The Pump Room) elegant, delightfully unstuffy French food.
Paskewitz approaches the menu with a traditional eye—you’ll find staples like escargot, rillettes and a whole section devoted to foie gras—but many dishes offer a fresh look at French food. Oeuf outhier, a classic dish of airy whipped eggs and caviar spooned into a delicate eggshell, includes vodka-scented crème fraiche, while one foie gras preparation encases the creamy liver in a super crunchy black truffle and candied lavender coating, channeling amazing chicken nuggets. Simpler dishes are also well-done, like Dover sole bathed in brown butter and studded with capers and tender blanquette de veau with crispy sweetbread nuggets, marred only by its lukewarm temperature. Pastry chef Marjorie Easley draws the meal to a close with graceful desserts, including a pistachio mousse bombe paired with raspberry accents, and a coconut financier with passionfruit curd and roasted fruit, a tropical riot of flavors.
Midway through dinner, my date commented that I never took him to review French restaurants, to which I replied that hardly any seem to open. It’s a shame, really, because dinner at the Blanchard proves there’s still a place for refined French cuisine in Chicago.
Atmosphere: The open kitchen is the focal point of the lively space, which also includes booths lining the walls, dreamy paintings from Danielle Klinenberg and big windows.
What to eat: Oeuf outhier ($16), sole a la meuniere ($42), coconut financier ($9)
What to drink: The wine list consists of mostly French wines, with a handful of well-selected options by the glass. Sommelier Anthony Mathieu (New York’s Daniel) can help you choose a wine, like the glass of citrusy, biscuity Ayala Brut Champagne he paired with the oeuf outhier starter. For cocktails, a light, lively negroni swaps Campari for more complex Gran Classico Bitter, while an icy sidecar is laced with surprisingly dry mango gastrique.
Where to sit: Just going for drinks or a burger? Grab a seat in the lounge. Otherwise, the dining room offers comfortable tables and booths, as well as a chef’s counter with prime views of the kitchen.
|Venue name:||The Blanchard||Contact:|
1935 N Lincoln Park West
|Transport:||El stop: Brown, Purple to Sedgwick. Bus: 22, 36, 37, 156.|
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Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
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Big surprise when I realized I need to update my top 7 favorite local restaurant list. Very hard to decide which spot was going to drop off, to make room for a new one.
The Blanchard – rising!
Reluctant to share, as this place is relatively under exposed and thus easier for us to enjoy.
Most highly recommended experience: drinks, fine cuisine, service, presentation. This is high-quality while easily approachable French; Hidden away in Lincoln Park, and waiting to be discovered like a culinary jewel under freshly fallen white snow (or shall we say, mounds of freshly table side shaved Foie Gras).
French - with innovative young chef twists, who's love for what they are doing is clearly evident. Elegant while not fussy, full flavored comfort food.
On a recent evening, the operation and "feel" was flawless & warm (assistant GM Cassy, at the helm), and our waiter Shane's service was on point, helpful and most enjoyable. But let's face it – A restaurant needs to be all about the food.
If this place were a wine, one might simply describe it as: delicious.
THis was our second time dining at The Blanchard in 2 weeks and we loved it the first time and loved it even more the second time we dined. We were seated along the far wall instead of the more "loud" corner of the dining room along the windows on the west side. Our server took great care of us and served us our dishes with such a nice flow. We both started with a fois preparation ..he the fois granache with apricot gelee which is what i had last time we dined and i love this dish..i opted to try the black truffle crusted seared fois which i am still thinking about after a week of having this dish. The fois perfectly seared with the truffle and lavendar bits as a crust just added a nice crunchiness texture as you sliced the fois ...the madiera sauce so perfectly matched with the fois. An elegant fulfilling dish. Then we both had the steak frites. Our steaks were cooked nicely but we both noticed some tendons which added a bit of toughness to the steak but the flavors were definitely all there. Despite having fries we order a side of the au gratin potatoes which i enjoyed a lot more with the dish than the fries but the fries were perfectly crispy. We did skip dessert this trip as we were so full. Highly recommended.