Restaurant Week: Chez Moi

I was having lunch with one of my friends, Aura, whom I haven’t seen in over 6 months when she brought up about an overdue double date and how restaurant week was this week and how she wanted to try Chez Moi (pronounced Shay-Mua), not that she was implying that in the same sentence . . . more of like mentioned in passing.  I suddenly said, why don’t we have our double date sometime this week during restaurant week, I’ve never gone and I’d like to try it out. We were talking dates and I jokingly laughed out, how about we just eat all day and have our double date tonight at the restaurant you want to go to? And then we were serious about it.  Right on the spot, she reserved a table on the Open Table app for 7 pm.  It was a bit surprising to see that there were several tables available at our preferred 7pm time knowing that it was restaurant week and we reserved a table a few hours before they opened.

Chez Moi wasn’t difficult to spot with it being on the corner of Halsted & Dickens.  Kevin and I were immediately welcomed by a rustically elegant atmosphere with beautiful chandeliers dangling in these golden sphere globes and friendly faces flagging us down.  I turned to Aura and smiled brightly, “Long time no see!  What have you been up to in the past 3 hours?” They are one of my favorite couples to enjoy a meal with because one the conversation comes easily and two they enjoy food as much as we do . . . bonusthey are one of few couples that don’t mind sharing or doing family style.

There was only one other table when we arrived, so it was pretty slow.  But I remembered it was a Monday night and typically Mondays are slower nights for restaurants.

The server greeted us. He was friendly and informative, maybe a little bit too talkative for my taste, but he was super outgoing, so it was easy to kid around with him.  He was training a new server, so we kinda had several people coming up to our table at different times throughout the evening.  What I liked was they refilled the glasses almost instantly, but sometimes what I noticed was we’d only have a few sips and there they were.  When it came to filling glasses they were attentive.  However, there were some minor mishaps that added up in our experience there. Throughout this piece, you’ll find flavor ratings ranked on a scale of 1-5, 5 being top notch – I didn’t include presentation because this was an area at which they lacked – the mishaps along our dining experience, and the food itself.

I regretfully forgot to take a picture of the menu to give a full feel to this blog thing that I’m trying to do, but thankfully, menus can be found on their website.  Here was the Pre Fixe (pronounced pre-fee) menu for restaurant week:

JANUARY 26TH – FEBRUARY 11TH
Pre Fixe Dinner $44 Per Person

Appetizer choose 1
Lobster bisque
Chicken liver mousse, cornichon
Roasted beet Salad, blue cheese, mixed greens

Main Course choose 1
Duck a L’Orange hamburger, seared with foie gras
Braised mediterranean lamb shank, couscous
Scallops au gratin, saffron rice

Dessert choose 1
Chez Moi famous gateau breton salidou
Molten chocolate cake

This wasn’t on the pre fixe menu, but Josh, Aura’s bae, ordered

WILD ESCARGOTS EN CROUTE,

butter, garlic, parsley

Escargot.  Let me just leave that word there for a bit.

I wasn’t planning on eating it, but I did.  I didn’t want to seem that ignorant. And I do enjoy trying something new every once in a while . . . but snails though?  For real? Snails.  So it being my first experience ever with escargot, I have nothing to compare the flavor with.  Kevin being the aspiring chef that he is said it was okay.  But to someone who isn’t a chef, but a regular girl who is an amateur foodie (I guess that is the perfect terminology to describe me with food . . . an amateur) it was not bad.  Well, I was indifferent to it.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t exactly love it.  However, I would order it again just out of curiosity.  I didn’t look at it.  I didn’t smell it.  I was ignoring the fact that it was a snail and I just ate it without thinking. If there is ever a next time, maybe if I ever go to France, I will order it once more to fully examine it and savor the texture so I can get a better understanding of escargot and its delicacy. I wasn’t too afraid of it though, there was a puff pastry sealing the escargots inside.  It was a light texture with a slight crunch and an airy center.  This is what I enjoyed most, the buttery sensation of this heavenly pastry.

 

Hors d’oeuvre: Wild Escargot en Croute
Flavor Rating: 4

For my first course, I ordered the Roasted Beet Salad, blue cheese, mixed greens.  There’s no nice way to say this, but the beet salad was just ordinary.  I asked for no cheese because I’m a bit lactose intolerant, but when they put the plate in front of me, there it was, the blue cheese just below my nose.  So this was the first mishap.  Kevin, being a super nice guy that doesn’t like to add conflict like he is, spoke for me, no worries, I’ll just pick out the cheese, a little is fine.  I, internally, cursed him out, like dammit, I didn’t want any cheese, especially bleu cheese.  I quickly shrugged it off and was like, my husband’s right, there’s no harm in just picking it out ourselves and I thought about the chef in the kitchen, maybe he was offended that I asked to remove the cheese as I hear that in France they never do substitutions, but as I was eating this plain Jane you-can-make-this-at-home-salad, I welcomed the added flavor. If I was able to handle more dairy, it probably would’ve been more enjoyable to have a touch of texture within each bite, but overall, the salad was nothing special. Mishap #2 was they brought out the wrong appetizer to Josh- another beet salad with cheese on it – he was supposed to have the lobster bisque, which they fixed right away.

IMG-5038

Appetizer: Roasted Beet Salad
Flavor Rating: 1

I originally wanted to order the Lobster Bisque, which Josh enjoyed reluctantly because he too is lactose intolerant.  If it weren’t for Aura being the good girlfriend she is in caring for his health, he probably would’ve devoured the entire bowl.  He didn’t know that the bisque is actually a very creamy mixture with lots of dairy.  I’m lucky to have a husband in the industry to warn me about certain things like hidden foods that I wouldn’t normally be aware of.  I’m sure that would’ve been 10x more enjoyable than the salad I ordered, and although I can handle a little bit of dairy, I wanted to save the dairy eating for dessert, so I’m glad to have eaten something much lighter.

Aura knows how to order.  For her appetizer, she got the chicken liver mousse.  If you’ve never had it before, it’s like a spread, you’d put it on bread or crackers. . . . omg, digression, the bread was amazing! Just the right amount of bite and texture.  The crust was crunchy in all the right areas of the edges, which had a perfect bite throughout the rest of the crust.  The center was fluffy and soft, really soft . . . the kind of soft that you can press it flat or roll it into a perfectly round ball between your fingers, I don’t know about you, but I find that extremely satisfying . . . back to the chicken liver, I’ve had it a few times when I was younger, but haven’t had it for years.  Again, due to my lack of experience with chicken liver I have no idea what to compare a delicious one to, but I was delighted by the flavor . . . or maybe I just really liked the bread.  Breading is everything, especially, if you’re going to spread something on it.

When it came to the Main Course, hands down my selection was scallops.  I’m trying to switch my eating habits into a more plant-based diet, so I’ve been cutting out red meats, also because it causes inflammation – side note: I’ve been cutting out lots of food due to inflammation, which include red meat, dairy, gluten (yes, I know I ate the bread and the pastry on top of the escargot), and sugar (which is difficult for a sugar addict like me) – Also, I don’t eat much of scallops and I love the texture of them. However, I had no idea what “au gratin” was and now that I am researching it, I am definitely an amateur foodie for sure.  I am absolutely clueless when it comes to food, and my husband is my anchor. He’s the food genius.  If you’re not a real foodie like me, Au Gratin is a culinary technique in which is used as a topping of grated cheese, breadcrumbs, and eggs of some sort onto the designated dish.  Three scallops came out on a large shell.  Presentation wise, it was pretty, better than a regular iron skillet is more appealing I guess . . . with a thick layer of cheese, which it was easy to lift off of the scallops.  In my opinion, it could do without the cheese or maybe a few shavings of cheese for added texture, because what was under the cheese was way more important and still very flavorful.  However, now that I’m thinking about it, that thick cheese layering on top as shown below might be a necessity to the flavoring of the dish.  The act of it being enclosed so the scallops can thoroughly absorb all the flavors? This I’m not positive, hence the question mark, or maybe I’m being too nice?  Also a question that doesn’t need answering.

The chef cooked the scallops very well.  It was juicy, savory, and soft.  Soft in a way that when you took a bite out of the scallop, you can notice the layers you wouldn’t normally see. Each bite was cleanly cut like a piece of sashimi. The sauce was light and buttery, but wasn’t overpowering the scallops and most importantly, it wasn’t drowning the main course in some kind of oily soup sauce like how you would find at a chain restaurant like Red Lobster. The saffron rice was a nice touch, it mellowed out the scallops keeping it a balanced meal, not too salty, not too buttery, not too overwhelming with flavor.  The vegetables were good too, kept the flavors paired together nicely, but not something I would rave about. Aside from the cheese, this was one of my favorites out of the meal.

IMG-5039

Main Course: Scallops
Flavor Rating: 4

Aura’s main course, the lamb shank, looked amazing.  Perfection when it came to presentation.  It was beautiful and I wished I was eating red meat to try it.  I’m not sure if she liked it or if she found it juicy enough for a lamb shank, but it look appetizing enough for any meat lover to try it. Josh ordered the duck hamburger (not pictured below), which also looked amazing, but I’m again unsure of the final verdict on how it tastes.  Kevin ordered something off the menu, he opted out of the pre fixe, he wanted to try the venison, but unfortunately they were out, and the way the server spoke about the dish he ordered made it sound so good.  However, Kevin was severely disappointed.  I even looked at it and thought nothing special, looked like a regular burger you would find at any old burger joint.  He said it lacked in flavor, and it was missing salt.  I even told the server he was a cook/aspiring chef, so I feel they could’ve brought more of an A game knowing they were serving a fellow industry cook. But I feel bad my husband didn’t enjoy his meal for the price we paid for our dinner.

 

Main Course: Lamb Shank; Burger
Kevin’s Burger Rating: 1.5

Last, but not least, the main part I was waiting for and saving my limited dairy stomach . . . the desserts . . . I was interested in the Chez Moi famous gateau breton salidou, but wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, I didn’t even know how to pronounce it, so I stuck with the safe choice.  Aura ordered the first one, seriously, she knows how to try new things, this one…. I had a bite of hers and instantly regretted my decision, but still enjoyed the chocolate-y goodness that was sitting on the plate in front of me. I simply adore chocolate.  You can’t go wrong with a classic chocolate molten cake, but I would’ve enjoyed the first option more.

IMG-5048

Dessert: Chocolate Molten Cake
Flavor Rating: 4

 

Overall the experience was a little below sub par.  Granted it was a Monday night, but it seemed a bit slow.  Kevin mentioned after the dinner that he will never go back there.  To him, it seemed like a restaurant that was on the verge of shutting down because one. there was not many people dining there, two. the service was poor, and three for the price of the food, it wasn’t the best. It’s weird that we both had different viewpoints to the experience because me as a person who has never worked in the food industry had a slightly better dining experience than he.

What I wished was better was the service. He was a good server.  A good server takes your order and fulfills it in a professional and friendly manner.  A great server would’ve paid extra close attention to interactions with their customers, such as: I mentioned when I ordered the salad that I was a little lactose intolerant and couldn’t handle too much dairy, so I requested no cheese, but what he neglected to share with me is that my main entree was a thick layer of cheese (dairy).  Maybe I’m a little picky, but I’ve had great servers before.

When the bill came, another mishap happened.  Earlier in the evening, when they asked for drinks, Aura and Josh ordered tea, and I requested to have peppermint tea served after dessert for me, which never came.  Then I remembered as they were paying, “Kevin check the bill, did they charge you for the lemonade you ordered but never received?”  Another mishap.  But thankfully, it wasn’t added. The final mishap of the evening was when the servers neglected to give a pen to us, like how is a customer supposed to sign and leave tip and they all left the dining room, so Kevin had to hunt for it on his own.  I would expect that kind of thing to happen at a busy but inexpensive restaurant, but not a nicer restaurant like that.

All in all, the ratings are as such:

Ambience: 5
Service: 3.5
Food: 3.5 (it would’ve been higher if Kevin enjoyed the meal)
Value: 3 (according to Kevin, the food wasn’t worth the price)
Noise: Quiet (there was music playing in the beginning, then suddenly there was silence)

If you’re going to eat out during restaurant week, I say go for it.  Go all out.  Don’t stay safe, always aim for trying something new.  And if you plan on going to Chez Moi, you could have a good experience . . . with an open and patient mind.  I believe they have the potential of having a great service.  There are some dishes that I, personally, think are worth it, like the escargot, chicken liver, and the Chez Moi famous gateau breton salidou. As always though, proceed with caution.  You have my word (an amateur foodie that’s married to an aspiring chef) for it, now it’s time to make your own decision and verdict.

happy eating, rebeccanne

 

 

 

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