Tartines Make a Comeback at the Iconic LONDONHOUSE in Chicago
Editor's Note: This article is by Jane Bokun, Broadwayworld.com Food and Wine Guest Contributor
It's hot up here on the upper rooftop of the LondonHouse, one of the oldest, most ornate buildings in Chicago at the corner of tony North Michigan Avenue.
But, there's a lot to be said for the magnificent views of the Chicago River, massive buildings and incredible architecture. People come up to the 23d floor of the LondonHouse Hotel to sip signature cocktails such as the Roaring '20s with champagne, jasmine tea, and homemade strawberry puree. It's a different experience at LondonHouse Tri-Level Rooftop. It's Chicago's only tri-level rooftop venue. Patrons can start on one floor and move to another with delicious foods and drinks all along the way.
It's the food by Executive Chef Jacob Verstegen that keeps diners entertained while they munch on Chicago's newest bar menu idea, the Tartine.
The modest Verstegen said he likes to reimagine American cuisine. In fact he has spent more than a decade in the foodie community as a chef, mixologist, pastry chef, and restaurateur. He is soft-spoken and handsome in an offhand way that says he doesn't have to try too hard.
Tartines, once a staple at dinner parties, are making a comeback in Chicago. They are lovingly termEd French open face sandwiches and are mainly different breads such as a crostini, with spreads like tangy goat cheese with a subtle herb sauce. A favorite of those gathering for social and business meetings is the Mini Bahn Mi, which has homemade pickled carrots, ham hock spread, cilantro, daikon, and chili aioli. The Combined sweet, savory and spicy tastes are so popular Bahn Mi also is showcased at GreenRiver which is another Michelin-starred restaurant and bar in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood.
While Verstegen has a love of fine dining, he also is pragmatic. He's a big fan of pickling and even makes his own pickles. "It helps foods last longer," he said.
Verstegen said he's a guy who likes to try things that people love and that no one else has tried.
A favorite of everyone is the "Journey of a Deviled Egg" with features perfectly cooked, hard boiled eggs like the American one with spring pea, butterfly pea blossom, Virginia ham, and American paddlefish. There also is the Russian with crème fraiche, black tea, charcoal, and osetra. Something different includes the delicate Chinese Deviled Egg with hibiscus, orange tobiko, and orange.
Carnivores on the rooftop can enjoy delicacies like Bison Tartar, with aerated egg, smoked tomato, brioche, toasted cassava flour. There's a dry aged Rohan Duck Breast with currents, poached rhubarb, marscarpone, quinoa, and fresh strawberry. One of the stars of the menu is a 5 oz. Hibachi Grilled Japanese Wagyu that goes down like butter with fermented plums, grilled romaine, and preserved egg among LondonHouse's many offerings.
"The food is approachable and comfortable," Verstegen says.
Meet Guest Contributor, Jane Bokun
Jane Bokun has worked in television for an ABC affiliate, but she has spent most of her career writing and editing such publications as Where Chicago Magazine, St. Petersburg Times, Gannett news, and even People Magazine. She has been an editor of the year for Gannett and is a member of Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists). For Shearson Lehman Hutton in Chicago, Bokun was one of the first Chicago Board of Trade market reporters. In her spare time, she is a maybe too hands on mom, wife, travel lover, and food writer. After living in Louisiana and Florida, she also is a member of the Mardi Gras Krewe of St. Brigit (Tampa) and Krewe of Les De Mystiques (Louisiana).
Photo Credit: Coutesy of LondonHouse