All tagged chicago
Mexican cuisine is extremely regionalized; each state has its own specialties and variations on national dishes. A lot of this regionalization is due to Mexico's diverse climate. Tacos al Pastor, the late night street food where pork is sliced from a spit and layered in a corn tortilla with pineapple, originates far from the ocean in Mexico City where swine is abundant.. Ceviche, campechanas, and seafood cocteles can be found in coastal states like Baja California and Sinaloa, where fresh fish is plentiful. Tinga, a dish where shredded pork is placed in a clay pot and stewed with chipotle, tomatoes, onion, and garlic, can be traced back to the farms of landlocked Puebla. Given this incredible specialization of regions and their dishes, creating a single pan-Mexican restaurant that tackles all of the regions while maintaining quality, is no easy task.
Our meal at L2O was a back-and-forth mix of traditional Japanese kaiseki with modern French cuisine. The restaurant really shined when it stuck to the simple and authentic Japanese dishes, as chef Gras has a remarkably precise cooking style that highlighted the very subtle flavors found in fish and vegetables. Had I not known about chef Gras, I might have thought he grew up in Japan. L2O also served some dishes that were a fusion of the two cuisines. This was the restaurant’s most interesting aspect. The richness of butter can really intensify mild flavors, particularly the subdued flavors of mushroom and cooked fish. But at times it seemed like two different chefs were cooking the meal, taking turns between French and Japanese styles. Sometimes their was synergy in the sequence of courses, other times dissonance.