Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Far East on the Near West [Side]

Chef Zack Bruell invited me to come sample some dishes on the new fall menu at Parallax. Continuing to express his fascination with Pacific Rim cuisines, he’s put together a freshened line-up of Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese inflected dishes. I was wowed by the spot-on balance of flavors in everything I tasted: the flawless meeting and mating of sweet with sour, the just-right saltiness, the richness of meat and seafood offset with spice, vinegar, and citrus. One word describes Bruell’s culinary concepts, the ability of his kitchen team to execute them, and my experience last Friday night: impeccable.

I let the in-house experts choose glass pours to go with each dish and the selections- white with meat, red with fish- surprised and pleased. The pours, based on sauces and seasonings, rather then the traditional paradigm, really brought out the best in the food.

Here’s what I ate and drank:
-lettuce wraps filled with slow roasted pork, served with spicy Korean kimchee and pickled onions and peppers
2007 Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett
-braised short rib pot stickers
2008 Hiedler Grüner Veltliner
-roasted beet and ginger salad with curried cashews
2006 Soave Classico Inama
-seared scallops with pickled plum sauce and coconut rice
2004 Maison Faively Pinot Noir
- fennel-coriander crusted seared tuna with pickled shiitakes and red ver jus
2006 Castello Sonnino Chianti di Montespertoli

Tried two desserts, both outstanding and noteworthy for a light hand with the sugar: lemongrass crème brulee and ginger cheesecake with grapefruit almond crust.

Lunch is also now available at the W.11th Street spot. Dine Asian on sushi, a Vietnamese sub, and Japanese fried chicken or stick to more all American- though definitely scaled up- fare like a cobb salad, chili dog, or walleye sandwich.

If you haven't ever been to Parallax, or haven't been there in a while, I'd say now's the time.

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