With Phase 3 of my project drawing to a close, that meant another trip back to Naperville to complete the system testing with the client and another opportunity to try out a new local restaurant as well as revisit two others.
Watching Episode 3 of Heston’s Mission Impossible TV series where he tried to improve the in-flight meals on British Airways, it was revealing how complex and difficult it is. From the practice of pre-cooking food on the ground and re-heating it in the air to how different food tastes and smells at 30,000 feet.
Knowing that I was impressed how tasty my starter of lobster with guacamole and citrus salad was. Even more so by the seared fillet of Hereford beef with spring onion mash and roast root vegetables for main course. It’s no Hawksmoor but I doubt I could do better if I had to cook under the same conditions.
Arriving in Naperville, the first restaurant I revisited was Catch 35 for its seafood. When I came here on my previous trip, I ate in the bar area with my Delivery Lead and this time I wanted to give their dining room a try. Starting with half a dozen of the Bay Cove oysters they were feather light and went well with the shallot vinegar. However, I wasn’t too convinced by the tomato relish they served with it which was rather overpowering.
For main course, I opted for the pan-fried salmon blackened with sweet chilli sauce. When it arrived the aroma of the dish was delicious and that was matched when with my first bite of the salmon – moist and perfectly cooked. Alas, the accompanying rice was a severe let down and far too salty but this was saved by the runner beans which I enjoyed even though I usually avoid them.
Overall, I would continue coming back but if I was eating solo I would opt for the bar area rather than the dining room for the ambience and more tapas-style menu they offer.
The next night, I took my client out for a meal and he opted for teppanyaki at Domo 77. Now, it’s been ages since I’ve eaten that particular style of Japanese cuisine mainly because I find that it’s more about how fun the dining experience is, as they play with the food as they cook in front of you, rather than the quality of food itself. Quite fun if you’ve never done it before but otherwise it’s somewhat passé.
With that backdrop in mind I was quite curious what the US take would be. I went for the shrimp and lobster combination whilst he went for shrimp and filet mignon option. Compared to London, it was far more reasonably priced and the food was tastier than I expected. So whilst I enjoyed it I probably wouldn’t come back unless someone else was craving it – for me there are more interesting alternative cuisines out there to indulge in.
For the final meal, it was back to the White Chocolate Grill for some classic American fare. When I first came here I was highly amused to see that the first section on the menu wasn’t the drinks nor starters but desserts for two. Now that’s how you start a menu. :)
Continuing the seafood theme, starter was a rather sizeable portion of sesame crusted ahi tuna and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that their starters were designed for two as well! The tuna was rare, thick and juicy – just how I like it. Unfortunately, for some bizarre reason they had it on a bed of vegetables swimming in a sea of soy sauce which meant I just enjoyed the tuna and left the inedible vegetables alone.
For main course, and what I’ve been looking forward all week, was their barbecued baby back ribs with the meat sliding off the bone into the rich sauce. Together with the side of cous cous which had the brilliant touch of pistachio on top, it was the best main course I had of all three dinners.
With a forthcoming trip back to Naperville to close out Phase 4, I’m already looking forward to going back to the White Chocolate Grill and trying out some of the others places I’ve been recommended too. I’m just grateful that my per diem subsidises some of this otherwise my bank account would be hammered!