Thursday, February 10, 2011


Moto, in pictures.

Our edible 10 course menu, printed on brioche. Underneath is a cashew reduction and some balsamic sauce.

The wood grain close-up is actually 1000 year old wood from an Asian monastery that they imported. It's really gorgeous.

Our cork - the wine for this evening was a Neyers, Old Lakeview Road, Syrah, Sonoma coast, CA 2008.

Menu again. Just in case you forgot our menu WAS FUCKING PRINTED ON BRIOCHE! Putting the amusement in amuse, apparently.

Me and my wine, we got a real good thing.

1st course: "Snow Man" - This little fella is actually a lemon lime foam that was made to resemble a little snowman (it snowed about 3 feet a few days before we arrived in Chicago). Below it was a pretty straightforward ahi poke. The reason the snow man is melting is because it was doused with a splash of margarita. Wasn't terribly inspired, and the tequila overpowered all the other delicate flavors. Still fun though!

2nd course: "White Steel" - Actually my least favorite dish of the night. We have a seared piece of hamachi over a bed of bright red tobiko with some carbonated grapefruit. The sauce was a vanilla sunchoke puree. The fish was overcooked, the tobiko pretty flavorless and the puree did nothing to advance either of their causes.

3rd course: "Crab Cakes" - Much more inspired than the previous courses. What we have here is a cake with Alaskan King crab baked into it, rather than a bunch of crab and bread in cake form. On top is a sweet cream cheese dollop. The white mass in the foreground is braised fennel, next to which is graham cracker crumble and a freezing ball of butternut squash sorbet. I guessed it was a playful riff off of the Mardi Gras specialty, king cake.

The server deposited this candle on our table following the second course. We were the only table with a candle. Something was afoot...

4th course: "Salsa Snacks and "Scallop Surprise" (that's my name for it, since it didn't have a name) - First up is "Salsa Snacks." Had I been a little stoned, I might not have ever left the table. It is the high cuisine equivalent of going to Taco Bell at 2am after a night of drinking. To the right is enchilada sauce glazed sweetbreads. At left is a molten chihuahaua cheese ball, covered in baked beans and baked rice, and then a smear of salsa sour cream.

Then we have the Scallop Surprise dish. We'll get to the name in a second. We have big buttery chucks of poached lobster, and butternut squash puree. As for the mini diver scallops, those are actually gnocchi, cut and seared to look like a scallop. Oh, and remember the candle. Our server came over, pulled out the wick and poured the contents over the dish, and told us that it was melted butter sauce. I KNEW IT! Our waiter actually seemed disappointed that we weren't more shocked by this revelation. We reminded her that we were the only ones with a candle and that she brought it over 20 minutes into the meal. Our Spidey-senses never let us down.

5th Course: "Baseball Snacks" - By far the most outrageous dish of the night. It's popcorn-encrusted quail (or tofu for Ann, since she's a pescatarian), Coca-cola reduction, caramel-apple reduction, very Blais-esque popcorn powder and a fun reproduction of a Cracker Jack box that's actually cherry-flavored paper.

6th Course: "Mock Maki" Best entree course of the night. What appears to be a very traditional-looking Japanese maki roll, is something completely different. The rice wrapper is actually champagne risotto. The inner wrapper is actually pressed and paper-thin crimini mushroom wrap. Inside, we have sous vide rabbit (Ann had a daikon), a roasted brussel sprout, and the additions are a thinly sliced jicama pickled in beet juice (hence the red color) a Chinese five-spice puree and dehydrated peas that look like wasabi. It may look Japanese, but the flavor was deep and rich, straight out of northern Italy.

7th course: "Maitake & Pork" - Awesome last entree. Had the Mock Maki not showed up, this would have been my favorite. Grilled pork belly, bok choy, pickled matsutake mushrooms, and then a recomposed "styrofoam" maitake mushroom. The take a maitake, puree it, place it in a mushroom form and dehydrate it. The result is a perfect-looking mushroom, but the texture is completely opposite from what you expect a mushroom to taste like. Light, airy, crisp. But still possessing the umami flavor of the maitake.

8th course: "Truffled Ice Cream" - Our first dessert...truffled ice cream, jellied Gala apples, hazelnut crumble. The pound cake is actually astronaut ice cream.

9th Course: "Pineapple and Chai" - Compressed pineapple slices, with vanilla bean, sasparilla ice cream, coconut powder, and marshmallow. Fun dessert, and the compressed pineapple packs a punch. The sasparilla ice cream would sell like gangbusters at any store.

10th course: "Tea Time" - Navel orange gel, lemon butter cookie crumble, earl grey ice cream and chocolate mousse. So, if you want to know which dessert was the best...well, here you go. We didn't even stop to take a picture. Just an aftermath of deliciousness.

One final dessert beverage: Tonka bean soda, with a lemony freeze dried "packaging peanut" that steams when you eat it. I want every drink now, in a graduated cylinder.

So, about a third of the way through the meal, we struck up a conversation with our server. We both told him we were huge fans, admirers from afar, and that this would be a highlight of our trip.
"Do you guys want to check out the kitchen after you're done?"

Um, yes!

Ann and I squealed. Audibly.

Here's the photos from the downstairs lab and kitchen.

There's Ben (Executive Pastry Chef), finishing up the last of the night's desserts.

The Moto team that made our awesome meal.

Me, pretty much dumbstruck.

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