Chicago Restaurant Week finally arrived, and I was really excited about starting it off with iNG, a restaurant featuring molecular gastronomy that I’ve been wanting to try for ages. They use miracle berries, and they change up their menu on a regular basis. When I went to iNG on January 24th, the menu was based on the artwork of Salvador Dali. The food was highly inventive, and the plating was creative, but overall, I was left underwhelmed. (Also, I apologize for the poor quality of the photos: the restaurant was very dimly lit.)
First course – Beet-Honey-Orange, inspired by “Honey Is Sweeter Than Blood” – Beets, vinegrette, beet sorbet, a very thin brioche crouton, micro greens, and candied orange zest. Very acidic. The miracle berry was interesting – it didn’t quite make anything taste super sweet, but the lemon was like a cross between a grapefruit and a tart lemonade, which is fun. It wasn’t really a moreish dish, but it was cool.
Second course – Sofrito-Goat Milk-Espange, inspired by “Persistence Of Memory” – Tortilla España with saffron. I think they may have mentioned a goat cheese creme fraiche and panna cotta, as well as maitake mushrooms. The tortilla was warm and very tender, almost more custard than potato, and I could taste the saffron. The mushrooms were a little cold. I think there was garlic in the creme fraiche. The red pepper sauce was a little one dimensional. I think they focused more on presentation than taste, to be frank.
Third course – Romesco-Potato-Cobia, inspired by “Tuna Fishing” – Potato croquette, caramelized onion broth, romesco, cobia, some kind of frozen onion. The fish seemed almost like an afterthought. The potato cake, however, was delicious – creamy and flavorful, with lovely crispy bits. The broth was nice, and although the frozen onion thing melted quickly, it added a nice creaminess. This was my favorite dish of the night, but I wasn’t especially wowed by any of the other dishes.
Fourth course – Brioche-Pistachio-Apricot, inspired by “Architectonic Angelus” – Candied apricots, cherry sauce, nougat over brioche fluff, pistachios over pistachio sauce. This was quite difficult to eat. Furthermore, it seemed more like a selection of disparate items on a plate, not a full plated dessert. Actually, it seemed more like random spots of sauces than a dessert at all. I suppose that it was interesting, and the nougat was good.
None of the dishes was very easy to eat, the last course least of all. I was more impressed by creativity than flavors with the first two courses, but I liked both for the third. I do, however, see why people complain about having to eat more elsewhere after this kind of restaurant. They were by far the smallest dishes I’ve had – as though they simply plucked a few courses from their main ten course menu without any thought to the fact that it was supposed to comprise a full meal.
It was probably the most inventive food/plating I’ve had, although possibly creativity for the sake of creativity, which isn’t a good idea. It was not, however, the best plating I’ve had – that would probably go to Sixteen or Blackbird, maybe La Belle Vie.
Overall: the food wasn’t worth the money. The experience may have been, although the more I think about it, the less I like it. I’m glad I tried it (at very least so that I learned not to go back without having spent a hundred dollars or more), but I doubt I would again. For the money, I could eat very well at Sumi Robata Bar (my new measurement, apparently) or Frontera Grill. Frankly, it was as very disappointing start to Restaurant Week.