24 Sep Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Alpana Chicago and Wine Inspired Cuisine
A quick trip to Chicago for work meant one free night for dinner. Where to go? When you are dining with wine industry friends, you want a place with a great wine list and delicious food. And we found that at Alpana Chicago, the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Alpana Chicago is owned by Alpana Singh, the youngest woman and the only South Asian ever to pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam which has a pass rate of 3%. The restaurateur and award-winning sommelier has owned three previous restaurants and earlier this year she opened her namesake restaurant Alpana.
The concept behind Alpana is wine-inspired cuisine. She works with umami rich ingredients and infuses them with flavorful spices and interesting textures, all while calibrating the dishes to a sommelier’s palate. And to match that is an international wine list that definitely peaked my interest.
We ordered wines from the by-the-glass list. Even this shortened list is a wine lovers dream and there are many tempting wines listed. I was debating between a dry Riesling, a Chenin Blanc, a Fiano, and an Arneis. So many good choices but the Arneis won.
We began with a few starters which we shared.
Albacore Tuna Crudo with crispy shallot crunch, chili aioli, and yuzu kosho vinaigrette offered different flavors and textures and the Arneis’ freshness was a lovely balance.
I loved the play of texture between the tender strips of octopus and crispy fingerling potatoes in the Braised Octopus with urfa biber, crispy fingerlings, and salsa verde.
Crispy Polenta & Mushrooms with black truffle parmesan fonduta was one of the first items that caught my eye on the menu. The Arneis was perfect with the rich and creamy umami flavors and we added shaved Burgundy truffles on top.
The Steak Tartare is delicate hand-cut filet mignon with egg yolk aioli and crispy shallots, cornichon and hewn bakery bread.
When I was ready for another glass of wine, I was debating between Gamay, Pinot Noir, Frappato, and Syrah. I went with the Frappato as I knew the lighter bodied wine would work with both fish and chicken.
Striped Sea Bass is served with celery root puree, broccolini and a lemon caper sauce. I loved all the flavors of this dish.
When you order chicken in a restaurant, you know it has to be worth it and this Roasted Half Chicken with crispy fingerlings and aji verde is! It is perfectly cooked comfort food and the aji verde is so good that I found myself double dipping.
The Steak au Poivre is a 14oz boneless ribeye with a peppercorn sauce. It comes with a choice of side and we had the crispy brussels sprouts.
Alpana has indoor and outdoor seating. We sat outside but the inside is rather incredible. It is like walking into a jungle with trees hanging from the ceiling.
I am definitely looking forward to returning to Alpana on my next trip to Chicago….which is very soon!