-Grubbing in Chicago
New to the 'Scene'
We recently celebrated the birthday of my partner in life / wife at what’s become one of the most talked about restaurants in town right now. Valhalla is the third restaurant from Chef Stephen Gillanders who also runs S.K.Y. in Pilsen and Apolonia in the South Loop. Valhalla is located on the second floor of the Time Out Market where they offer both an ala carte and a tasting menu option ($185). It’s an interesting setup inside as even though the restaurant has its own space it’s still a part of the market so be ready to hear the same loud music that you would if you were getting food from one of the stalls on the 1st floor. Actually I was able to watch one of the NCAA tournament games that they had on the big screen tv during our meal, which I didn’t mind but that’s certainly an interesting setup for this type of a tasting menu. We went ala carte as there’s a pretty big overlap far as the menus go.
First up I usually don’t mention service bc it’s not something I’m a stickler for but I feel like it should be mentioned how good it was. The surroundings might not feel like a fine dining restaurant but the service definitely did. First up was a succulent order of lobster shumai covered in a champagne cream sauce with caviar. If you’ve ever dined at S.K.Y. in Pilsen you might’ve tried the lobster dumplings which have been on the menu since day one due to their deliciousness. Well these are similar in flavor but different in prep. Specifically the sauce on top but I thought the flavor of the dumpling could’ve used a little more lobster pop. After that came the savory pastry plate which consists of huitlacoche madeleines, sour cream-scallion beignets, black truffle biscuits. There’s no talking about Valhalla without the price coming up, it’s expensive, but I thought the pastry plate was a pretty good deal coming in at $3 each. I really liked all of them and could see myself going back just for that and maybe a beer or something from the bar next door (they don’t serve beer but our friendly waitress said I could go get one if I wanted). Next up was a marvelous Maitake mushroom kebab that’s dipped in beef fat before it’s grilled and then plated with charred avocado, Chevre, and Fresno pepper.
It was tough to pick favorites as far as the entrees bc both the Queen Crab Arroz Caldo and the grilled Mediterranean seabass slapped. Gillanders is part Filipino but Queen Crab Arroz Caldo is one of the first Filipino dishes that he’s put on his menu. It was so succulent and full of flavorful crab that we contemplated ordering another round. They listed sambal-cioppino and fennel à la barigoule in the menu description of the seabass but it also came with a ton of tender shrimp and crab meat. The skin was a bit over salted but other than that it was one of the better plates of fish I’ve had of late.
Finally for our dessert we did the pineapple seven ways which was seven different elements of pineapple in one very pretty lookingdish. I’ll mimic what the local critics have said - this is the most interesting project from Chef Stephen Gillanders and that goes for the food and the setup.
Time Out Market: 2nd Floor
916 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607