So I’ll be straight up and say I wasn’t even all that geeked about heading to The Bristol last night. My coworkers suggested it, and upon browsing the menu and finding dishes like “leeks vinaigrette” and “beef tongue”, I pretty much wrote it off as one of those gourmet bougie spots with well-plated food that pisses off your taste buds every single time.
Man oh MAN was I wrong! This place was a blessing to my belly in ways I’d never expect. We kicked off dinner with cocktails, and I chose the Dark & Stormy. Crafted with Gosling’s rum and ginger beer, their version of this classic cocktail was reminiscent of a caribbean rum punch but not too sweet with a lovely ginger flavor from puree they make in-house. One sip and I was instantly transported to a moonlit beach, walking hand-in-hand with some dark chocolate miracle with India.Arie’s “Beautiful Surprise” playing faintly in the background.
Then a needle scratch interrupted my moonlit fantasy, and I came back to snowy Chicago as the waiter brought out our starters – duck fat fries and fried brussel sprouts.
These fries though? Like, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go to McDonald’s again. And I don’t even know what duck fat really means but these fries renewed my faith in the idea of “gourmet fries”. They were thick, perfectly crisp and dusted with some sort of heavenly goodness that I caught myself licking off my fingers (this is why we can’t have nice things). The brussel sprouts were crispy all the way to the center, and their semi-sweet glaze perfectly complemented the savory flavor of whatever oil and spices they were fried in.
Next up was monkey bread and the raviolo. I was super skeptical about the monkey bread because I’ve never seen it outside my Aunt’s kitchen in South Carolina. But it only took one bite to give The Bristol permission to serve monkey bread in their establishment. The outside was wonderfully buttery, but not greasy, and the dill sauce that accompanied it was actually delightful (despite me sorta hating dill). The raviolo was delicious as well, but with ricotta and egg and some cream sauce it was so rich I have no idea how one person eats that whole thing!
At this point I could have gone home happy and fat, but we had more coming! We were reluctant to order chicken with so many other options, but that may have been the best decision we made all night. Their roasted chicken was super moist and smothered in this super-savory brown sauce that I could have sopped up with that monkey bread but I refrained because Obama is president and when I’m out I try to act like I have home training. Sometimes.
The salmon was served upside down with a nice crispy skin that I actually loved but some could find off putting if you’re not into salmon skin. And the meat literally melted in your mouth.
After 7 cocktails, 2 snacks, 2 starters and 3 entrees you would think we would have mercy on our stomachs but at this point why not go all the way to hell for shameless gluttony and order 2 desserts? The Caramel Bar, complete with peanut brittle, milk chocolate cremeux, nougat ice cream was just too much for me to comprehend, so I only tasted the Basque Cake which was reminiscent of my mother’s pineapple upside down cake, but unfortunately not quite as moist.
All in all, I could give this place a solid 47 stars out of 5, but I’ll just go with 5 for now because it’s all I’ve been thinking about all day, and a place I would highly recommend on your next trip to Chicago!