Chicago certainly has no dearth of fine dining options available. While we may not stack up to the New Yorks or Paris’ of the world, we definitely have our fair share of Michelin star restaurants (say, Blackbird). On a recent outing to Sepia, I was reminded of just how fortunate we are to have so many great places to choose from.
Located in the West Loop, just a block away from Blackbird and avec, Sepia is a contemporary American restaurant headed by chef Andrew Zimmerman that has been awarded a Michelin star the past two years. The place itself is small but very comfortable, with only one dining room adorned by racks of wine on the wall. The front of the house also contains a bar area for those stopping in for drinks.
Having never tried sweetbreads, I was intrigued when I saw them on the menu. After listening to a spirited recommendation from the server, I was sold—sweetbreads to start. They were soft and silky, fried and crispy. The thought of eating thymus gland may be off-putting to some, but truthfully the taste is not exceedingly radical from anything we normally eat and I think most people would have little reservations eating them if they didn’t know what they were.
For main courses, I had the flat iron steak while the rest of my table had the sturgeon and apple braised pork shank. My steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare (as all steaks should be), and was accompanied by some mushrooms and fingerling potatoes, as well as some coffee grounds on top. The mix of flavors ended up working well together and the coffee changed things up enough to keep it interesting. There was also a Bearnaise sauce to go alongside it but I completely forgot all about it until the end. As for the sturgeon, the fish was cooked nicely, but that’s about all I can say since it takes a lot for a fish dish to stand out for me. My mother seemed to enjoy it though. The pork shank was fall-off-the-bone tender and had a sweet apple-y flavor.
Capping the meal off was an amazing dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with bitter chocolate mousse and stout ice cream. If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll be in heaven. And if you’re not a chocolate lover, you’d still be floored by how good this thing was. Paired with the stout ice cream, which was phenomenal on its own, just pushed it into some sort of dessert nirvana.
Seriously it was that good, and the perfect end to a meal that served as a reminder that Chicago’s fine dining scene takes a backseat to no one.