Aigre Doux Restaurant Review - A Chicago Restaurant You Should Know

 

 

Aigre Doux (agray-do) Restaurant and Bakery is new to Chicago and provides the perfect opportunity to launch a Chicago Splash Magazine column devoted to special Chicago restaurants. Aigre-doux, the French term for the combined flavors of sour (aigre) and sweet (doux), and was chosen as a reflection of life and the lives of the chefs, Mohammad Islam and Malika Ameen. Mohammad has a sour palate, it is rumored, and Malika creates sweets.

Immaculate Kitchen



Aigre Doux diners were Steve, Jacqueline, Barbara and Leon. On entering the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by owner, Zubair Giyas, who led us to a comfortable booth. The main dining area was designed by Olsen and Vranas as an intimate 80-seat room with banquettes and tables that invite guests to relax and enjoy a comfortable respite from the hustle and bustle of River North. We noted that the dining area was clean and uncluttered, the lighting was calm but not too dim and that we could easily hear one another.

Chef's - Owner - our Servers



In talking with Zubair, we learned that Brazilian Cherry wood slats dampen the sound, and that the large filament lights--set into the areas where there is wood--hang low and offer very warm light. The result is great sound quality and a relaxed comfortable atmosphere. Even at the end of the evening when the entire restaurant was filled (on a Wednesday evening), there was no noise interference.

It's a chef-driven dining room where food and service rule. People were hustling and bustling in all directions so that someone was there, taking care of what you wanted when you wanted it. The service was excellent but didn't overwhelm. And we loved the bread that generously kept coming by and landing in our bread plates. We also learned that food is delivered and is used each day. The produce and meat is mostly organic and the fish is wild rather than farm-grown. Meats are personally ordered and individually cut by Mohammad.

Our appetizers and main courses covered a wide range of foods. Each of us enjoyed not only what we ordered but what others in our group ordered as well. The wines were exceptional (Ici La Bas Pinot Noir 'Elke Vineyard', Mendocino, California, 2003 and Edge Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 2004.) and there was a strong disagreement about the best meal a battle between the duck and the rack of lamb but more of this later.

APPETIZERS

Each of us thoroughly enjoyed our appetizer (and those that we tasted of others) and found the attention to detail in presentation enhanced the experience.

Steve had Seared Ahi Tuna, jicama, cumin, infused citrus salad

Seared Ahi Tuna


'The jicama was less tart than ginger and the cumin kick was complementary and not contrasting. The searing was perfect.'

Jackie selected Braised Artichoke Soup, elderberry flower, seared bay scallop

Braised Artichoke Soup


This was 'creamy but light, smooth and the scallop and elderberry set off the artichoke flavor'.

Barbara enjoyed White Asparagus, truffle poached egg, banon, and herb vinaigrette

White Asparagus


'The asparagus was tender but crisp, the egg was perfect and the sauce heightened the flavor.'

Leon chose Prince Edward Island Mussels, noodle galette, butternut squash, and coconut curry sauce

Prince Edward Island Mussels


The mussels were 'plump and succulent and the butternut squash was crispy and contrasted with the mussels. The coconut curry sauce was outstanding.'

DINNER

(Both Steve and Leon's faces lit up as they tasted their respective dishes)

Steve's entree was Colorado Rack of Lamb, truffled grits, fennel, apple, fava bean salad

Colorado Rack of Lamb


'This is just amazing lamb and the grits are buttery and wonderful. The fennel and apple flavors cut the richness of the lamb.'

Jackie had Organic Roast Chicken, pomme de terre, broccolini, truffled jus

Organic Roast Chicken


'Great sauce, the potatoes were creamy and the broccolini with the onions were perfect.'

Barbara ordered Sauteed Wild Turbot, de puys lentils, hearts of palm, pommel, saffron sauce

Sauteed Wild Turbot


'The textures and flavors are rich and subtle, a spicy and sweet contrast of both texture and flavor. The vegetables were perfection.'

Leon enjoyed Maple Glazed Duck Breast, duck sausage, six-grain wild rice, rhubarb chutney, spiced jus

Maple Glazed Duck Breast


'Beautiful pieces of duck breast with an amazing sauce. The wild rice had the surprising flavor of currants that set off the duck and kept it from being too rich.'

On discussing the meals, both Steve and Leon felt theirs was the best, and while Jackie was entirely pleased with the chicken, she liked the lamb very much, as the lamb had a rich flavor, but was extremely tender. We all enjoyed the lentils.

 
  DESSERT

Ice Cream Trio of ginger chocolate chip, salted butter pecan and honey comb (because we were full and the flavors so unusual)

Ice Cream Trio


The ginger chocolate chip had a gentle flavor, almost like a palate cleanser, the honey comb-honey had a sweet, not too sweet flavor unlike any other we have experienced.

We pronounced this a lovely evening at a restaurant that was delightful in every way. We hope to return for their breakfasts in the future.


More on the Restaurant and the Chefs
 
Mohammad Islam and Malika Ameen, the husband and wife culinary team, met while cooking at Chicago's superlative Ritz-Carlton Hotel and have returned to Chicago after spreading their culinary skills to many parts of the country. Malika says, 'We don't believe people should have to go to a fine dining restaurant to eat well.

Aigre Doux will be a relaxed restaurant and bakery and we will serve food that's as fresh as can be. We sincerely hope that people will fall in love with Aigre Doux and will come see us daily and be involved in our daily ritual of eating well.' She and her husband, Aigre Doux owner/executive chef Mohammad Islam, bring a passion for food and a stellar Chicago, New York and Los Angeles culinary background to this restaurant.

Ameen is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. She established her reputation early, working under three award-winning pastry chefs. She first performed her dessert-making magic at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, working under renowned pastry chef En Ming Hsu who has won numerous awards and served as captain of the U.S. pastry team that took the gold medal at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon, France. When Ameen relocated to New York she continued her professional growth at the Cub Room, working under James Beard multi-year nominee Gina DePalma, then the award winning Craft, working under James Beard award-winning Karen DeMasco, and then she became one of two associate pastry chefs at the celebrated Balthazar in Soho.

In 2003 Balazs hired Ameen and Islam to head the kitchen at his Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Vibilia described Chateau Marmont as one of the city's best-kept secrets, and had rave reviews for Ameen's desserts describing her as a 'talent to watch.' Angeleno Magazine (sister publication to Chicago's CS Magazine) described Ameen and Islam as 'among the most exciting chef duos in town.' Ameen is excited to be back in Chicago. 'Chicago is where my family is and I'm thrilled to be returning to such a dynamic dining city. Mohammad and I hope to make many people very happy with our new bakery and restaurant.'



Aigre Doux Restaurant & Bakery, located at 230 W. Kinzie in Chicago, IL 60610, telephone (312) 329-9400  Valet parking is available. Major credits accepted include American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and Carte Blanche.  Lunch prices range from $8.00-12.00 for appetizers and $14.00-18.00 for entrees and dinner from $9.00 14.00 for appetizers and $14.00-34.00 for entrees. There is an extensive and excellent wine list and wonderful desserts.

Beginnin in January, 2008, the area which was to be the bakery has been set with additional seating.

Aigre Doux has also closed their Saturday and Sunday brunch for the season.  New
hours of operation are:

Sunday - 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dinner
Monday-Thursday - 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lunch; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dinner
Friday - 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lunch; 5 p.m. to Midnight. Dinner
Saturday - 5 p.m. to Midnight. Dinner

For more information or to make reservations, please call Aigre Doux Restaurant & Bakery at (312) 329-9400. Online reservations are taken at their website, www.aigredouxchicago.com, or www.opentable.com.  






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