February 7, 2013
There's a new restaurant inside Symphony Center; what was once Rhapsody is now called Tesori (65 E. Adams St., 312-786-9911). It's got a new look — a little darker, a bit more romantic — a new chef in Andrew Deuel, and a spiffed-up bar area working hard to attract the after-5 and post-museum-tourist crowds.
Chicago Restaurant Week, when Tesori is offering a three-course, $22 lunch and a three-course, $33 dinner, is a budget-friendly time to check the new place out.
The dinner menu is sufficiently varied — three appetizers, four entrees and two desserts to choose among — and for an extra $20, you can add matching wines or cocktails to each course, and there are choices there, too. The pours are on the short side, but at three drinks for $20, that's to be expected.
Oxtail meatballs in a tomato-rich ragu over organic polenta gets the meal off to a good start, though there's much to like about the confit-style pork belly, astride a texturally dense pile of kale, Brussels sprouts and lentils. Among the main courses, there is a beautiful, if slightly underseasoned, pan-seared black bass, with cooked rainbow chard and garbanzo beans and a light citrus butter sauce; and a hefty portion of lobster-filled ravioli with a lobster-rich sauce that was, unfortunately, oversalted. Take a third of the salt from that sauce, add it to the bass, and I'd have been a very happy guy.
An almond-orange torta is good on looks but a bit shy on flavor. Better is the densely rich chocolate-buttermilk panna cotta, speared with a cocoa-nib tuile and flanked by some amarena cherries (my favorite cherries on earth); the Cabin Fever brown ale (by New Holland Brewing Company in Michigan) was an inspired pairing.
Chicago Restaurant Week continues through Sunday. For participating restaurants, menus and online reservations, go to choosechicago.com.
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