New “Menu” in Town
By Patrick F. Cannon
Buoyed by the improving economy, famous chef Jean Claude “Boomer” Bilbao has opened a new fine dining restaurant in the chic Chicago suburb of Forest Park. Called simply Boomers, it features the usual tasting menu, but with a twist – instead of $500 a head, it’s available for $50! (or $65 with wine/beverage pairings).
During my recent visit, and honoring a long tradition, the meal started with an amuse bouche (literally, “funny mouth” in English). In an expensive emporium, this might consist of a perfectly-poached quail egg, nestled in a foam made of Indian Ocean squid ink, presented in a tiny porcelain spoon. Boomer’s take on this classic starter is more modest, but no less tasty, consisting of a perfectly-seared nugget of Spam, served on a tiny leaf of iceberg lettuce. This is paired with s mere thimble (literally) of Virginia Dare’s famous pink wine.
My fellow diners must have been amused, for their laughter only stopped when the next plate was served. I must confess that it was a dish I had never encountered in my extensive culinary travels – Pidgeon gizzards braised in Mountain Dew. Our server explained that chef had installed traps on the roof, which provided a reliable source of the notably stupid fowl. After extracting the entrails, what remained was sold off to fine dining spots in Chicago, where they were branded as wild-raised “squab.” A decanted white wine of unknown origin helped get this distinctive dish down.
These tiny rarities were soon disposed of to make way for a palate cleanser. Our server – an aspiring actor of unknown sex – explained it was a mixture of avocado and zucchini, blended together in a freezing centrifuge, then molded into elegant little cubes, and placed on a heart-shaped piece of Brawny paper towel. Finally, using a medicine dropper, the server delivered just one drop of Klingler’s justly famous hot sauce to the top of the cube. The room was soon filled with a multi-colored mist; it was thus difficult to see one’s fellow diners enjoying this combination of the bland and fiery. Pure spring water was served to cool palates.
It was now time for the main course! Chef Boomer himself led the servers from the kitchen, and stood by while each of us was served a gold-finished aluminum can, accompanied by a church key. “You have all heard of the famous Kobe beef of Japan, fed with the best of feeds, supplemented by beer and sake, with the sacred cows even massaged! This results is the world’s best, most expensive, but fattest meat. I cannot in conscience serve it, but I can offer you the essence! It seems the rich diet produces a rare wind – called the “Divine Wind” in Japan – which the producers have now canned for export to a choice clientele. This evening, that’s you!
“If you’ll take your opener, get as close to the can as possible, then quickly open it and breathe deeply at the opening, you will experience a sensation unique in the Chicago area. Let me count to three; at three everyone open their cans in unison – one, two, three!”
The assembled diners sniffed in unison. A variety of noises ensued. For me, the fleeting odor remined me of nothing so much as the smells in my Army barracks on a Sunday morning after the lads had spent Saturday night drinking beer and eating pizza at the NCO Club, although the odors then were somewhat less fleeting.
After this unique experience, dessert was something of an anti-climax: Oreo cookies blended into a mousse with Mogen David Extra Heavy Malaga, and topped with a Maraschino cherry. When Chef Boomer and his staff came out, they were greeted with an emotional silence instead of the usual applause. I’m sure they were heartened by this reaction. In any event, I’m told tables at Boomers are booked months in advance.
Copyright 2023, Patrick F. Cannon
5 thoughts on “New “Menu” in Town”
No thank you, not for me, I’d rather have Sea Bass or a Filet Mignon!
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So would I!
It’s about time fine Southern Indiana cuisine came to Chicago. Monsieur Bilbao evidently honed his craft at the Culinary Institute in French Lick.
At lunch during a visit to Chartes, home of the cathedral with its incomparable stained glass windows, the proprietors served to my delighted surprise an amuse bouche (“pie hole tickler”) that consisted, in the French Lick manner, of a portion of trail mix served in a monkey dish. You can’t keep those quirky French down.
Forest Park is known for its eclectic selection of eateries. The now closed Fiorenza on Madison served what I remember as the most authentic Italian food in the area, including “Gamberi Vaffanculo,” grilled shrimp in the “Up Yours” style. Pity the place went out of business.
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Alas, we miss Fiorenza. And I must tell you that Doc Ryan’s is soon closing, to be replaced by a pot dispensary. By the way, I also once had lunch in Chartes. I had a grilled-cheese sandwich. I asked that it be made with fromage americain, but got something called gruyere instead. Oh well.
I don’t think so. Guess I’m just not all that adventurous But keep it up oh Wizard
Judy Btw sorry about not sending your birthday card on your birthday But sometimes my brain seems to go south and it’s hard for me to concentrate on the task at hand and then I just lose it Very frustrating Keep doing your thing I enjoy reading your posts even though they are sometimes a bit outrageous
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