I recently dined at Province, 161 N. Jefferson St., Chicago, IL with a smaller intimate group of close friends. Located in the West Loop, this fine dining operation is an American restaurant with cuisine inspired by Central and South America and Spain. Province incorporates green building materials and equipment with farm-to-table cuisine from Executive Chef Randy Zweiban.
The discrete entrance of Province would never have caught my eye if I didn’t live directly across the street. I immediately became intrigued once I spotted it. I was fortunate to dine there with other foodies like myself. One of my favorite things to do when dining out is reading through the entire menu and learn as much as I possibly can, whether that is from the servers or my surrounding company.
I stared with the Nichols Farms Beets and blood orange salad with goat cheese and olive oil. My beets were cooked perfectly, presented beautifully next to pith free blood orange supremes, and creamy herbed goat cheese. My boyfriend, Matt, ordered the Tortilla Soup with avocado and roasted chicken, Lubna ordered Oysters on the half shell with a mignonette sauce; which is a classic sauce paired with oysters using white wine and sherry vinegar, and her husband Ziad ordered the House Cured & Smoked Arctic Char Ceviche with olives, preserved lemons and fried capers. We all shared our small plates with each other and none of us were displeased. I have to say, I had never had fried capers before. Capers alone have such a pronounced flavor and frying them really changed the texture, but the flavor was still that of a caper. It added a nice contrast to the cold acidic arctic Char Ceviche.
For our main courses, Matt ordered Black Bean and Dietzler Farms Oxtail Chili with chorizo, which had an adequate level of heat and spice. It was very tasty. I had a remarkable Marinated Skirt Steak with gratin potatoes and a chimichurri sauce. I decided on this entrée because I was curious to see how the chimichurri sauce was prepared and wanted to compare it to the way I had been taught to make it by Chef Newman Miller. Newman’s chimichurri will forever be my favorite, however my meal was flawless. Lubna ordered the Ten hour braised lamb with roasted eggplant, chorizo and cornbread. I was not surprised she ordered this dish because she has a hard time resisting anything that has eggplant as an ingredient. Eggplant is a standard ingredient in Jordanian cooking, which is where she and her husband are from. Ziad ordered the Spice crusted farm raised cobia with olive smashed potatoes and smoked crema. We ordered a plethora of sides for the table; brown buttered Brussels sprouts, which were cooked perfectly, honey roasted root vegetables, and Green Acres Farms Fingerlings with onions and pork belly hash.
We paired all of our food with a bottle of Malbec and some other trendy cocktails. Lubna and I both ordered the same cocktail called Smart Money; Market pear infused Templeton rye, Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, mint and flamed cinnamon. The presentation of this cocktail was interactive with the customer which provided for some entertainment. We were handed a cinnamon stick that the bartender lit for us; he then had us stir it into our drinks. The drink had a nice smoky essence to it which was balanced appropriately with the mint.
We had a lovely evening with spectacular food and wine. The wait for our reserved table was outlandish, however it was acknowledged appropriately. I am glad I live across the street and noticed this restaurant! And what is better than dining out with great company? Check it out.
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