Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tesori Delivers a Fine Orchestrated Symphony Directed by Chef Andrew Deuel

Let's call it a "Rhapsody in New," or "Concerto Classico," or maybe "Eden on Adam's." No matter what you name this symphony, each movement was well orchestrated by Tesori located in the Symphony Center, 65 East Adams, Chicago, Illinois.

Tesori merges old world cuisine with new world technique. It proudly boasts an inviting menu along with an extensive wine list. Upon arrival we were greeted by dining room manager Mike who quickly addressed our every need. Mike exudes pride and ensures that patrons leave realizing that good hospitality is an "art-form." He was quick to boast about Tesori and shared with us the specific details and back story of the restaurant. Because of his knowledge, Steve and I chose to let him make the appropriate selections that guaranteed our dining experience would be well versed as well as highlighting the artistry of Chef Andrew. His selections were well coordinated and precise. He was the George Martin to Lennon's Beatles.

We were rewarded with the presence of Rachel, our server for the evening. Her friendly, yet professional demeanor set the stage for a relaxed, yet experiential event. One can never underestimate the value of a server that is able to tune in to your every need. Matching the rhythm of your guests is equal to the fine tuned sensitivity of a highly sought after studio musician. A musician wants to come in and say "this is who I am, this is my style and rhythm" and then have others fall right in line. So it was with Mike, Rachel and their team; they just "get it!"

It wasn't long before Sean, Tesori's general manager, or should I say, "concert-master" came over to greet us. We witnessed him surveying the establishment to underscore the importance that everything was in order and that the maestro would be able to deliver a symphony of flavors without a glitch. Maestro, Chef Andrew is the conductor of this symphony, and rightly so. While Tesori paid special attention to each patron's senses by paying close attention to aesthetic quality, they were also keenly aware that the food is the star of this show.

While Chef Andrew was not adorned with tails and tie, he was well dressed in his crisp whites. Taking a bow, he stood before the orchestra with masterful grace. He deserved a standing ovation, as he delivered with absolute perfection a culinary symphony. From the first course, white zucchini soup, to the last in house gelato and spumoni bomb, this well orchestrated symphony awakened our senses.

Chef Andrew's use of old farmstyle, or more specifically Cucina contadina Italiana, or maybe "fattoria", is infused throughout the menu. No matter how you refer to it, it is superb! Bravo! Unlike many Italian themed cuisine, Chef Andrew infuses celery, carrots, garden freshness and a specialty vegetable broth in many of his well planned out dishes. (If you are coming to Tesori to experience typical Americanized Italian cuisine, you may be surprised. It is important just let go and in the words of the Phantom..."Floating, falling, sweet intoxication,Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation, Let the dream begin" Phantom Of The Opera - Music Of The Night.) Although Chef Andrew Deuel incorporates Cucina contadina Italiana, with a modern farmstead approach, this sensitivity to the needs of both vegan and gluten-free patrons is represented and therefore he embraces a new world approach to his culinary masterpieces.

We began our evening with a light Zardetto (a little bubbly) and assortiti pane italiano e olio d'oliva. Although a roasted tomato soup was the evening's specialty, our prelude was white zucchini soup. Personally, I have come to judge a restaurant by two items, soup and dessert. As Mike aptly put it, the book-ends more on that later). Soup quality and originality is what I expect. Chef Andrew scored with a five star rating with the white zucchini soup. I cannot impress upon you enough how impressed both of us were with this soup. The intermingling of carrot, celery and herbs with the zucchini, lightly drizzled with olive oil for infused richness made this vegetarian creamless soup sing as only Pavarotti could sing! I was shocked that there was no cream or butter used in the preparation of the creamy soup. I would have argued with anyone that the base for this soup was in fact a rich roux, but no, the Chef's pureeing technique is that perfect! Next, we indulged in veal cheeks, anson mills stone ground polenta and charred octopus, san marzano relish,with capers and olives. After savoring the polenta I could have easily stopped and just begged for more, encore, encore! Needless to say, we didn't stop there. The octopus was impressive and, more importantly, the Chef's eight hour process of soaking the meat in red wine made for a delectable Cyprian delight and exemplifies his attention to detail and precision. Next Mike delivered a recommendation by Chef Andrew. A new appetizer pizza, fresh made crust, topped with bechamel sauce, topped with house made ricotta cheese, proscuitto and arugula. It was a nice spin on an old classic. To prepare us for our pasta dish, we gracefully entered into the fourth movement with a sugar beet salad, which presented the perfect blend of color, freshness, crunch and zing. The grand finale, while not the finale, was duck bolognese over house made linguini. While we imagined that we had hit the pinnacle of palatable pleasures, we quickly discovered there was more. Let's call it the encore or, simply put, the other "book-end." Dessert! It was delivered with pageantry and flair as we were presented with trio gelato and sorbetti as well as the spumoni bomb. The trio consisted of vanilla bean gelato, mango/peach sorbetti and drum roll please the Pièce de résistance, grapefruit and mint sorbetti! A simple pink little mound of heaven! We also delighted our taste buds as we savored la bomba/ pistachio and cherry mousse, dark chocolate glaze, chocolate cake, dark cherry gastrique, white chocolate pistachio shard.

Satisfaction guaranteed, Chef Andrew and Tesori delivered a well orchestrated symphony of flavor, texture, aromas and at a price that is guaranteed to make your accountant smile.

Mangiare Bene!
Steve Champagne's Review.

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