Posted: Jul 11, 2017
Critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur Michael Mina opens Margeaux Brasserie at the Waldorf Astoria in the Gold Coast on Monday. Executive chef Brent Balika, previously of The Dawson, runs the restaurant, which joins Mina's Petit Margeaux, the companion cafe which opened in the hotel in late June. (See the story here.) The pair are the first in Chicago for Mina, whose eponymous Michael Mina in San Francisco is the most well known of his 30 restaurants across the country.
"It's a tribute to Paris in the 1920s," said general manager Jose Gonzalez, "We're trying to capture the beauty, the romance, the style. It was that era of celebration, there was a sexiness. Our classic cocktails reflect that, and classic French cuisine as well."
Said Balika, "We want that lively space harking back to traditional brasserie cuisine but of course utilizing local ingredients as much as we can."
A Constant Evolution - Working with the Mina Group from Mina Group on Vimeo.
"We're trying to be a big part of the community," he added.
New exterior signage at the luxury hotel, and a dedicated elevator, lead directly to the foyer of the third floor restaurant. A white marble tiled threshold, inlaid with gold letters boldly spelling out Margeaux, opens to the front pewter bar room, with brass rods holding Chartreuse and other bottles of spirits above.
To the left, windows flood daylight into a small lounge area, including a cozy nook with a green tufted leather curved corner banquette, the favorite meeting space of Balika.
A Champagne cart will offer six of the French wines by the glass, plus the 2012 Iron Horse Vineyards Michael Mina Cuvee ($16) from California.
Balika's favorite table in the house can be found in yet another curvaceous corner, under floor to ceiling windows with a neighborhood view.
The brasserie will serve breakfast, featuring eggs Benedict but on croissants, and with bearnaise not hollandaise sauce, plus heirloom Bloomsdale spinach, as well your choice of Paris ham ($18), smoked salmon ($22) or Maine lobster ($25).
At dinner, expect brasserie classics.
"There are two dishes that I'm really in love with," said Balika, "We're doing a beautiful tomato Tatin ($18) using local tomatoes, Camembert, puff pastry, a little bit of Dijon, a smoked tomato vinaigrette and a basil pistou. It's summer, warm and juicy, and very simplistic which is very brasserie."
"Then Dover sole ($70), we're doing a classic meuniere, whole roasted, we're boning it in the kitchen, with white asparagus. Very simple but really intense delicious flavors."
Mina restaurant group beverage director Daniel Grajewski and sommelier Ryan Baldwin created the beverage program.
Said Gonzalez, "There's a lot of homage to the era and Hemingway, like the Hemingway daiquiri and Death in the Afternoon."
A cheese cart continues the classic touches. Said Balika, "We're focusing on French style cheeses, including amazing artisans from around this country too. For our opening program, we're doing Thomasville tomme from Georgia, a raw cow's milk cheese, semi firm, buttery and grassy."
By Louisa Chu
July 10, 2017
Source: Chicago Tribune
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