Location: 840 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607A Quick Word:
After roaming around on Randolph Street, aka "restaurant row," Maude's Liquor Bar was the choice for dinner. This mixology bar features both creative cocktails and French cuisine... could it get any better? After sitting in the small dining area, my friend and I ordered a handful of dishes and were extremely impressed with everything. From the drinks to the dessert, it was all incredible. Their dishes are meant for sharing, so definitely bring at least a friend... preferably two or three. The atmosphere is very fun. Hawks fans were mixed in with hipsters and businessman. After dining here, I definitely like it much better than their sister restaurant, Gilt Bar. But because of the size of each dish and the need for at least three people to enjoy several dishes, I decided to give them a 4.5 mile rating... just short of perfect.
What We Ate:
Under the "almost French" category was the country terrine. This dish is a bacon-wrapped pork shoulder pate that is served with toast, whole grain mustard, and pickles. Personally, this was my favorite dish of the night. The pate is a cold dish and has just enough liver mixed in to give it a mild iron note. Spread a nice chunk of pate on the toast, top it with the mustard, and bite a piece of the pickle. The combination of all has the best flavor... richness, acidity, and of course that classic mustard flavor. This is definitely enough to share between 3 or 4 people so enjoy!
My friend never tried oysters before so we decided on ordering just a few east coast oysters to taste. The oysters arrived with a side of hot sauce, a side of cocktail sauce, horseradish, and lemon. Add a few drops of everything to the top of the oyster and slurp it back. These were very fresh, not briny at all so just double check with the waiter for milder oysters if it is your first time. My friend loved them.
Every time I have French food, I always order escargot. This dish came with six burgundy snails cooked in a steaming hot herbed garlic butter and seasoned lightly with sea salt. A side of lemon is served as optional. Be careful when eating because the snails are so hot they will burn your mouth. After downing a snail, soak up the herbed butter with a piece of the french bread. I think that may be my favorite bite... all of that rich, seasoned butter softens the bread and packs tons of flavor. A must try!
This dish was the special for the night. And, WOW, I am so glad we order it. The cassoulet is a stew-like dish made with garlic sausage, pork belly, duck confit, bone marrow, white beans and carrots. It is all cooked together in a cast iron pan. We asked for extra bread to dip into the stew. Where to start... the garlic sausage was incredible; it had a very strong garlic flavor which was complemented nicely by all the other meats. The pork belly added the perfect amount of fat and the white beans and carrots gave more substance. The duck confit was an entire duck leg, adding even more meat to the dish. A bone was cooked and split down the middle so we could access the marrow. Spread a little marrow on some bread and enjoy. This dish is enough for easily four people. Definitely worth sharing despite the higher price.
Who can ever pass up creme brûlée when dining at a French restaurant? I know I could never. The creme brûlée from Maude's is simple... custard flavored with a little vanilla bean and topped with a caramelized sugar crust. The custard was extremely smooth and not too sweet. The predominant flavor was a mixture of burnt sugar and vanilla bean... perfect. The dessert was a little on the large side especially for two people. Maybe a smaller version at a lower cost? Just a suggestion.
Some people describe Maude's as a mixology bar with good food while others describe it as a gourmet restaurant with an ok bar. Regardless, I think the drinks are amazing. I ordered a sazerac. It was made with rittenhouse rye, asbinthe, demerara, and peychaud's. It is served in a frosted glass. I personally don't know all the ingredients in this drink, but it tasted great. I would order it again.
- Make reservations if possible. This place gets busy fast. Even on a random Wednesday night.
- I would suggest coming here with 4 people. Dishes are on the larger side and are meant for sharing.
- Valet Parking available for $10 on weeknights
- Don't come here on your own. You need to share.
How far would I walk for this food?