Cafe Spiaggia- Chicago
It is not very often that Lauren and I get out and about in downtown Chicago. Chicago Restaurant week is a great time to try something new, something fancy, something delicious and it can be accomplished frugally! A lot of restaurants participate downtown and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for us try something super fancy!!!
Cafe Spiaggia Chicago is a Michelin Plate restaurant and shares a kitchen with the Michelin Star restaurant Spiaggia. Joe Flamm (Top Chef season 15 winner) is at the helm of these two restaurants. In my mind I put together... Michelin Star/Plate restaurant + Top Chef winner + Chicago restaurant week menu = A 100 Percent Winning Combination!
For everything that sounds too good to be true there is a "but" or a "however" that always isn't too far behind. Yes... sorry to disappoint, there is a "but" here. Things started great with our server, David. He was kind, knowledgeable and attentive and he greeted us with two glasses of champagnes since we were there celebrating a special occasion. Things were off to a wonderful start. The cocktails arrived and were good. Lauren (Traveler #1) had a drink called "Sgroppino" and I had a drink called "Bliss Yourself". Again, the drinks were good but not awesome. However we are quite picky about the drinks we prefer. With our orders placed we did enjoy our window seat overlooking the Gold Coast ultra fancy stores(closed at this point).
Our first course was delivered. We both decided to go with the Truffle Aranici. This was also not a home run for us. While the prosciutto was delicious along with the aoli like cream sauce that it came with, the rice ball itself was somewhat disappointing. Flavorless and inconsistent are the first couple of words that came to mind. Both Lauren and I did not finish our portions.
Second course arrived quickly from David and he was very chipper and almost excited to see us! Lauren decided on the Lumachee and I went with the Ziti. The pasta was cooked perfect and the presentation was spot on. However our food seemed to be over seasoned and very salty. Second course was consumed with lots of water! Again, we did not finish this course of the meal at Cafe Spiaggia Chicago.
In the third course David was less chipper and slowly starting to see that while we were enjoying the ambiance of the restaurant we were not completely loving our meal thus far. Lauren ordered the Rock Fish and I had the Pork Shoulder. This is where we may have gone from not loving our meal and enjoying the experience to starting to have a negative experience. Lauren was told that the artichoke in her meal was fresh upon ordering it. When it arrived the artichoke was not fresh and the brine was overwhelming to the rest of the dish. The rock fish was light, flaky and delicious. Lauren ate every bite of the Rock Fish but due to the disappointment of being served "artisanal" prepackaged (jarred or canned) artichokes versus fresh...from a Michelin kitchen, she did not eat the artichokes or garnish.
The pork shoulder was a complete disaster... The polenta was boiling hot however it was still tasty. The broccolini was barely warm and very wilted but it was still well seasoned and delicious. The pork shoulder was cold as if it was made an hour ago, was sitting out since then and flavorless. 3-4 bites in to my 3rd course I became physically ill and started vomiting at the table and in the restroom. I had to excuse myself from the rest of the meal. This has NEVER happened before. I knew the pork seemed a bit off but did not see the meal ending this way.
While I spent some quality time in the restroom Lauren was delivered her dessert which she did enjoy! Her dessert consisted of deliciously strong espresso poured over gelato. Yummm!!
Overall there were some great things about Cafe Spiaggia Chicago! It has a great location in the Gold Coast. The ambiance seemed like it was quite nice. Our server, David, was great. The manger on duty was disconnected and unable to wrap her head around the fact that the food portion of our experience was lack luster. We gave some honest feedback on Facebook and Yelp, where we heard from the regional director promptly the next morning who listened to our concerns and issues. We are open to returning to Cafe Spiaggia Chicago in the future and are hopeful that they provide an experience and the food to match their Michelin namesake.