Chef Art Smith - he was one of the Top Chef Masters finalists, Oprah's personal chef, and executive chef of Table 52 - where President Obama took his wife for Valentine's Day. With all of these credentials, we had to add Table 52 to our list of places to check out while we were in Chicago.
It was a wonderfully intimate spot that was filled with couples, with a few business and group dinners as well. The decor and menu was very reminiscent of the wonderful fine dining restaurants we dined at in New Orleans.
Nice, cozy interior that reminded us of a charming Southern house.
Deviled eggs and homemade biscuits: We loved the cool, creamy eggs with the little crisp on top. The homemade biscuit had a delicious goat cheese flavor on its crust.
"Back to the Table" Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($16) with watercress-carrot slaw, toasted cashews, and sauce gribiche (mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce). The crab cake was meaty, but not heavy. We really enjoyed the baby watercress - it was fresh and not bitter.
Ancho Chile Crusted Berkshire Pork Chop ($29) with butterbeans, parsley salad, and pimento puree. The pork was nicely cooked - tender, meaty (the slab of pork was huge!), but not dry. There was a nice spice on the meat from the chile.
Gunthrop Farms Duck Breast ($34) with red lentil and tomato concasse (fancy word for chopped tomatoes that have been skinned and seeded), cherry gastrique, and crispy okra. We liked the okra chips with its crispiness. The sauce was sweet and the duck, though a little pricey for 3 pieces, wasn't greasy.
Smith Family Twelve-Layer Chocolate Cake ($9): This cake has been in Chef Smith's family for over 200 years...and with good reason. This was rich with Valrhona & Sao Thome chocolate and tasted very decadent. We had the Chapoutier Banyuls (100% grenache) to match up with the cake.
Table 52 is located at 52 W. Elm St. in Chicago, IL.