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I know that everyone is going to be talking about Super Bowl food this week and leading up to the weekend. I, however, will steer you towards my sweet potato nachos and epic southwestern burger while I talk about my own personal super bowl (of food. #punintended) with my A10 Hyde Park Review .
A10 Hyde Park Review
(I also got to sample some of A10’s offerings with Sara at Chicago Table—check out my review of that incredible tasting event here!). This review is from dinner a week and a half ago. I would go back RIGHT NOW.
For those of you who don’t know Chicago, Hyde Park is in the south side of the city–about 8-10 miles (but still within the city) from downtown, depending on exactly where you are measuring from). It is the home of the Museum of Science and Industry as well as the University of Chicago. Though it is a straight shot of a drive, it is not a place that you just jaunt on over to unless you have a particular reason. And food, let’s be honest, is a “particular reason” for me. A10 is one of the anchors of the new Hyde Park dining scene, and it does a fabulous job.
FYI, the name comes from the A10 road which runs through France and Italy, and the restaurant’s cuisine takes its cues from those countries. Intimate but open, rustic but sleek, A10 presents to you a place that is at once homey as well as separate, both in atmosphere as well as the menu. Perfect for a casual date or a night on the town.
Sipper not a Ripper Bonded Rye, Amaro, Vermouth, Sassafras Bitters
Our friend’s choice, and I thought fabulous. Complex, but welcoming.
Highing Fly Reposado Tequila, Calabrian Chile, Cider Reduction, Citrus
My choice, and definitely my favorite of the drinks. I didn’t get much chile (they obvs don’t know me), but ermigerd delicious. And the largest. And I drank it all (but slowly, it was strong). And I may have been a lil drunk after, it was so strong! But perfectly balanced on your taste buds, with lemon-forward citrus complemented by the Reposado and the cider reduction.
No Sleep Til Bourbon, Amer China, Maraschino, Dry Vermouth, Abbot’s Bitters
Alex’s pick, and a house version of a Brooklyn (which is similar to a Manhattan). Fabulous, but, like the kale (which I will describe in a minute) it was an A- student in an A+ world. But I loved the luxardo cherry (always) and the all of the glasses!
Roasted Garlic and Housemade Focaccia
Simple perfection. The roasted garlic basically tasted like it had been confited, it was so lush. And the focaccia—basically olive oil bread to dip into olive oil (and loved that they put balsamic in it). Alex ordered another round because he loved it so much!
Tuscan Kale, Nicoise Olive, Tarragon, Crouton
Tasty, but not a stand out. Most places, this would be an a+ dish, but here, it paled in comparison to everything else.
Shaved Kohlrabi, Green Apple, Manchego, Walnut, Mint
This was something that I wanted to order, and oh my, it did not disappoint. The plate was so much one color that it forced you to just go for it—I typically dissect my food, but with this, you had to just take the bite as one without trying to separate the flavors. This was beyond exceptional. Sweet, tart, citrus, nuttiness, and savory/salty.
Saffron Gemelli, Sun Dried Tomato, Cod Roe
This was a beautiful dish that highlighted the skill of the kitchen as well as the range of saffron in appliations. The sun dried tomato and saffron became almost inseparable, and just fused to each other in complement.
Bucatini Carbonara, Guanciale, Sixty Minute Egg
This was, in a word, indulgent. Or decadent. Either way, it was incredible. One of Orzo’s long loved dishes was our Bucatini Carbonara, prepared the same way—with a poached egg that you crack into the dish to create the sauce. This reminded me of the even more simplified but 3x as creamy version. The extra focaccia came in handy for this one.
Steak Tartare, Picked Mushroom, Sweet Pepper, Pecorino Chip
I was super excited about this dish, and it lived up to my expectations and more. The acid and pickling were perfection against the beef, and the pecorino chip was actually a pecorino dusted potato chip that I used to build bites on top of. I kinda ended up allowing the other to have a few bites and then making sure it was rightnext to me 😀
Genoa Salami and Pepperoncini, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Arugula
The menu mentions “Roman Pizza,” and Alex and I were excited to try the A10 version. We were expecting a cracker thin crust—as we are accompanied to, both in Rome as well as in Roman-Italian restaurants here. So we were surprised to be presented with not only a thick crust, but also uncased salami! This was my kind of deep dish, by the way, but the salami. HOLY SALAMI. For Alex, the salami alone was his single favorite bite of the night (the focaccia was his other fave).
We weren’t ready for dessert (stuffed) but I did want a coffee, and Alex continued his Bailey’s kick. And how cute is the “shot glass”? I’m guessing it is more accustomed to limoncello, but the little guy did just fine.
I am just now realizing that I didn’t take a picture of the complimentary candy that they brought at the close of dinner—a honey-meringue “candy.” I can be weird about honey, but this was beautiful—light, luscious, slightly floral, and just sugary enough to have the right closure.
To say that dinner at A10 was a pleasure would be to say that cold water, shade, and a fan are nice in the desert during summer. Or that I think ice cream is just fine. We all know how much I loved Cicchetti, and A10 would give my beloved shuttered restaurant a true run for its money. From atmosphere to service to food, A10 is a must try if you live in Chicago. It isn’t just worth the drive a few miles south, it pays for it in spades. Our wallets would be in biiiig trouble if it was in our neighborhood.
Do you travel to far away lands in search of good eats?
What looks tasty to you?
What was the last restaurant that just “nailed” it for you?