Address:

33 West New York St., Aurora, IL 60506

Phone: (630) 375-0426

Open:

Wed-Thu: 5pm-11pm (kitchen closes 9pm)

Fri-Sat: 5pm-2am (kitchen closes 10pm)

DAILY HERALD REVIEW

Organic, local ingredients top

Chef Amaury’s French-inspired menu

Izidora Angel | Daily Herald Correspondent Review

Published: 7/23/2008

 

So how does a guy from Humboldt Park with a Puerto-Rican/Spanish background end up making fabulous French-inspired cuisine? It’s easy. Just give him a French first name, and his destiny is as good as decided - at least, in the case of Amaury Rosado, owner and chef of what is Aurora’s best new attraction and a true foodie’s haven. With Amaury’s wife and sister-in-law providing the mannerly service, this boutique restaurant is bound to charm you into submission, whether or not you ever knew what “fava bean coulis” entails.

 

The scene

The suburbs equal strip malls, which often equal vapid spaces. But luckily for all, the only reason Chef Amaury’s is in a strip mall is so you can enjoy the perks of wine without a markup and order a five-course prix fix menu (which comprises fantastic organic Midwest vegetables and meat) for $60. In a relatively small space, with no more than 12 tables, Chef Amaury’s presence is big and unmistakable, from the cozy dining room with white tablecloths and storefront windows (the burgundy curtains are trained to rise precisely at sunset), to the dimly lit sous-chef area and dining-room bookcase, holding house secrets and recipes.

 

The food

Chef Amaury’s boasts “contemporary American dining,” so, naturally, we ask the upbeat chef walking around his restaurant the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question: What exactly is American cuisine?

 

“American cuisine as such doesn’t really exist,” he says. “It is more of a general statement about having many different influences under one roof. What does make it American as anything, however, is the ingredients, which is why I consider this to be contemporary American food. In order to be on par with the best restaurants in the world, I have to use only the best ingredients, which is why I use local farms and organic products.”

 

From intensely flavored micro herbs to raspberries picked on Wednesday in Ohio and served in Chicago on Friday, this chef means business. The first course features an organic roast and golden beet salad, but forget about those crimson-colored beets that you’re scared to touch, let alone eat. This salad includes golden-beet vinaigrette with fresh radish, two small - but potent - slices of Irish cheddar, a handful of mixed micro greens and a drizzle of balsamic reduction that has Paris on its tongue. The second course is organic vegetable soup with a very flavorful, clear vegetable broth and fresh summer vegetables, on top of which float miniature basil or parsley (note: the cultivation process of both is a difficult and expensive affair).

 

If you ordered the three-course menu, this would be your main course, but during the five-course feast, it is merely your third: a delightful, olive oil-poached Alaskan halibut with fava bean coulis, black forbidden rice, wilted spinach and orange reduction. The fish is amazingly fresh and absorbs the wonderful bouquet of flavors at its sides, most notably the nuttiness of the dark forbidden rice.

 

The fourth course presents two options: grilled Wagyu sirloin steak or grilled Colorado lamb chop. The steak is medium rare with a dark red wine reduction to complement the meat’s rawness, while creamy truffle goat cheese potatoes and crunchy green beans prove to be excellent accessories. The lamb really is lamb - a small and tender cutlet with French fingerling potatoes and farm-fresh cherry compote on top.

 

The chef’s wine selection is exceptional. There is practically no markup on the bottles, so you can enjoy a glass, half bottle or a whole one of, say, the J. Christopher Pinot Noir and take it home in a wine doggie bag if you don’t finish it there.

 

“Saving room for desert” need not apply here. Though you have been through four courses already, the final dishes are small and elegant portions no bigger than the palm of your hand, so don’t worry: you won’t be doing any huffing and puffing. Dessert itself is also a two-option ordeal: warm molten bittersweet chocolate cake with organic raspberry coulis and fresh whipped cream versus green tea crème brûlée with crunchy caramelized sugar on top. Try to pick one if you can.

 

The experience

Simply wonderful. There is no table turnover to speak of, and it takes a good three hours from the start of dinner to finish, so by the time you walk out the doors, you will have been in the same company for the better part of a whole evening. You may as well have been dining at a good friend’s dinner party.