French Restaurant Week has started in Chicago, and runs through July 22. Bastille Day and the World Cup win delayed this post a bit but there is still time to enjoy! You can book a reservation online here.
I reached out to the main site of French Restaurant Week as soon as I saw an article announcing that it was taking place. NYC is also participating and you can book reservations online here. There are great choices in both cities.
The slogan is Eat. Drink. Be French. There are different menu options at the participating restaurants. From an amuse bouche and a drink for $17.89 to a full dinner for two with wine for $178.90. Lunch options are $25 and dinner $38.
I had the opportunity to dine at Marchesa last night, which is right in the center of the city. I sat outside despite cooler Summer temperatures. I loved the adorable courtyard on the street and the atmosphere was fun for people watching. As a solo diner, this was the best choice. The table next to me was kind enough to offer me a little cheese and bread from their charcuterie plate upon arrival.
I just left my French lesson with Caroline right before dinner so it was perfectly timed that my waiter, Phillipe was French. He was more than willing to continue my French lesson helping me along as I practiced ordering from the menu and making casual conversation. Unlike a lot of my experiences in France, he always replied in French even when I didn't know a particular word and kept me going the whole night. He made my night dining solo a real enjoyable experience.
If you could judge a restaurant by it's wine list, Marchesa already had my vote. I was so happy to see the rosé I just had in the South of France. Since returning home, I had been on the hunt for it in Chicago.
I ordered off of the Dinner menu that is $38 for two courses and a glass of wine/beverage or three courses with no wine.
I loved meeting the entire team of hosts, owners Jason and Kathryn as well as a visit from Chef Mark. Mark and I actually have a friend in common so it was fun to chat about our mutual friend and hear more about how he found his spot in the kitchen from the corporate world.
To start, I enjoyed a salade niçoise and steak tartare. (I chose two with the assistance of Kathryn)
Note the purple potatoes, the dish was flavorful and a great size.
Not to be missed is the tarragon citron (lemon) butter and fresh warm bread. Phillipe packed some to go home with me.
I am happy I saved room for the main course which was the French Bistro Chicken. It ended up getting dark by the time my plate arrived. They had adorable lanterns with candles on the table but the photograph just wasn't up to my standards to share. Trust me, it was delicious.
One thing to note about everything I enjoyed from Marchesa, the portions are impressive and you won't leave hungry. I have participated in Restaurant Week in Chicago and felt that some restaurants left you hungry and disappointed. This was not the case.
For dessert, I enjoyed the petit pot de crème with a cup of coffee. Do not skip dessert. I promise, you will thank me later. It was made with rich dark chocolate and very flavorful.
After dinner, I met Kathryn for a tour of the space. There are three floors including a champagne cave where they show movies and you can nibble on small bites. The first floor has a bar, the main dining area, and a chef's table. The chef's table area looks so cute for a birthday/anniversary dinner.
The top floor called "the apartment" is perfect for a wedding or celebration. Hint, please have a party here and invite me..
The menu is for an amuse bouche and is great for a stop to experience the Parisian style bar.
Note: I was invited to dine with Marchesa as a guest. All opinions are my own. I look forward to dining with them again soon!