I guess Tru is a semi-big deal in Chicago because it is ranked a four-star Mobil, five-diamond AAA, Relais & Chateaux Relais-Gourmand restaurant…and their executive pastry chef Gale Gand is a considered a celebrity.
I have yet to come to Tru for a full-out 6 or 12-course dinner, but the 3-course set Dessert Menu ($40 per person) wreaks enough havoc on my wallet. Check out the full menu here. And so the desserts begin!
We were offered a complimentary amuse bouche. Essentially, it was A Grapefruit mouse served with a grapefruit sauce, white tapioca pearls, and topped with a fried mint leaf.
Tastiness: B+. An excellent way to start, this was refreshing, not too sweet, fruity and light. The fried mint leaf was unique and I actually liked the grapefruit mousse thought I’m normally not a huge fan of grapefruit itself.
Nick’s: Star anise semifreddo – Pomelo, ruby grapefruit, honey sponge, fennel cont
Tastiness: B. I wasn’t impressed with the semi-freddo, which should have been like an ice-cream cake, but the texture was more mousse-like than creamy and dense. Funny enough, my favorite part was the little fruit segments…probably the cheapest and “easiest” component of the dish.
Michelle’s: Lime + blueberry “vacherin”- Cinnamon chiboust, pan-fried buttermilk cake
Tastiness: B+. The buttermilk cake was the best part, particularly the different textures of the layers – soft and cake-like on the top while crunchy on the bottom. The vacherin was more dense and sweeter than I expected, but enjoyable! Creamy and sweet. Despite how cute white sugar rod was, it didn’t add ANYTHING to the dish.
A complimentary plate of tiny vanilla butter Madeleine’s
Tastiness: B-. While the flavor was great (can’t go wrong with butter, sugar, and vanilla right?), I found the little cakes over-baked, dry, and cold. They had a good texture – a little chewy, dense yet airy, but a very unremarkable Madeleine.
Nick’s: Chocolate bar – Coffee ice cream, burnt caramel mousse, malted caramel
Tastiness: A. I wanted to eat all of Nick’s dessert after that first bite. The slightly bitter coffee ice-cream went extremely well with the dense chocolate “cake” that was more like ganache than cake. The entire dish screamed chocolate!!! The chef was able to control the sweetness level well, and this was an overall beautiful and successful dish.
Michelle’s: Plum + sarsaparilla – Milk chocolate, ginger-lime meringue
Tastiness: C+. Great for diets because I didn’t want to finish this dish. I was not a fan of this dish at all and probably wouldn’t have finished it if it didn’t cost so much. The only thing that was minutely interesting was the sheet of sugar on top hardened with pepper bits inside. The dish was unmemorable and the texture combination of all the ingredients were awkward at best. You have the soft, stewed fruit (which you can’t go wrong with), and you have the overly tough “cookie” topped with an average-tasting milk chocolate. I wanted Nick’s dish. Period.
Nick’s: Grapefruit gratin (Not listed on the Menu)
Tastiness: A-. The gratin was so incredibly refreshing and delicious I wanted to eat it all. Unlike most gratins, this one was so smooth it was like ice-cream. The other elements of the dish were cold refreshing ice-cream scoops that had their own citrus kick to it. Served with the stewed plums…it was pretty much perfect.
Michelle’s: Gianduja Soufflé – spiced pumpkin ice cream, hazelnut, roasted pepitas
Tastiness: A. This was a chocolate soufflé served with a side of pumpkin ice-cream. However, the highlight was the creamy hazelnut sauce that the waiter poured into the center of the soufflé…The best way to eat this is dumping the ice-cream into the soufflé! That way, you get the cold and the hot, the creamy and pillowy, the nutty and the fruity. Clearly, my favorite dish.
Dessert after Dessert
A rolling trolley full of bite-sized desserts was wheeled to our table after our 3-course dessert “meal”. I thought we’d get to pick a couple, but the waiter simply explained what each pastry was, and then proceeded to collect 1 of every piece for each of us.
Clockwise: Lemon marshmallow (Yum!!), Crystallized Ginger, Gingerbread French Macaroon (I requested 2 because I am obsessed with macaroon’s), Chocolate lollipop (ick – the only thing I didn’t finish), Espresso Chocolate, Almond Chocolate, Chocolate-dipped brioche (ick- gave mine to Nick),
Overall, it was a fabulous first experience to taste desserts of so many different textures, temperatures, and unexpected flavors all on one dish. On the other hand, no matter how beautiful something looks, high quality chocolate will always taste like chocolate and ice-cream will always taste like ice-cream. It’s the unique pairings and the experience that is worth going to.