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Kalyn's Kitchen

Friday Night Photos: Dinner at Topolobampo with Lydia and Ted

Tasting Menu at TopolobampoMonths before we started making other plans for the 2009 BlogHer Conference, my blogging friend Lydia and I and Lydia’s charming husband Ted were making reservations for Topolobampo, the more upscale side of Top Chef Master’s winner Rick Bayless’ side-by-side signature restaurants in Chicago. We loved Topolobampo when we ate there, but when I came home there were so many things to talk about for Friday Night Photos like meeting food bloggers in Chicago, the completion of house renovations, and Garden Updates, that this post was delayed. I can’t find the menu I saved to help with descriptions of our tasting menu experience, but I do vividly remember the guacamole above, served with incredibly thin and crisp jicama and cucumber.

There were three tasting menu choices, but it ended up with Ted and I both choosing the same one, and Lydia making a different choice. This is Lydia’s appetizer, but no memory of what it was; any guesses?

This mole appetizer was delicious and gorgeous. All the sauces were carried to the table in little containers, then poured around the plate by a small army of servers who arrived to deliver each course.

Of course we tasted each other’s food with every course, and Lydia has this sweet corn soup, which was outstandingly good.

I have no memory at all of what this soup was that came with the menu Ted and I selected, except I remember I liked it, and the soup has something that looks like crab.

Lydia’s enjoyed this lobster dish that was her fish course; but I can’t remember anything else that was on the plate.

This was the fish course of salmon served with garlic scapes and a sauce that was really delicious.

On both tasting menus we liked the meat courses the least, or maybe we were just getting full by then! This was the steak course for Lydia’s dinner.

This goat was the meat course for the menu Ted and I selected. This was my first time tasting goat, and I was underwhelmed, but I’d like to try it again before I make up my mind.

Lydia’s dessert plate had various incarnations of chocolate, including a foamy concoction and something that was kind of like a mousse.

The other dessert had caramel flavors, with little cannoli like pastries and ice cream., and of course the artfully drizzled sauce.

The meal ended with a little container of sweets from the kitchen. Getting these photos was a challenge, since the restaurant was rather dark, but all around us we noticed other diners also taking pictures.

We loved our evening at Topolobampo. If anyone reads this who has tried one of these tasting menus and has a better memory, please speak up in the comments with what you remember about these dishes!

445 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: 312-661-1434 | Fax: 312-661-1830

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    18 Comments on “Friday Night Photos: Dinner at Topolobampo with Lydia and Ted”

  1. The food all look amazing, though a little weird. And not to mention, yummy.
    But why do they have to serve it in small portions?! T__T
    Haha! Just kidding.

  2. Pam, lucky you. I don't think I've ever eaten at Charlie Trotters.

    Mimi, another of my favorites in Chicago (and much more budget friendly) is Greek Islands. If you like Greek food, this place is a must!

  3. I am way too envious, Kalyn and Lydia.

    I will be in Chicago myself later in September and looking for places to eat. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. We are going to Chicago in November and already have our reservations for Topolombampo. We were there (Chicago) in June and had the good fortune to go to Charlie Trotter's: http://lastwyf.blogspot.com/2009/07/charlie-trotters-redux.html

  5. Lydia, that's my philosophy exactly!

    Kim, I'm planning to blog the idea of using cucumber and jicama to dip guacamole, but I can't imagine how I'd get my own jicama and cucumbers as amazingly crisp and perfectly cut as the ones we had at Topolobampo! They were quite remarkable.

  6. How lucky for you to have dined at Topolobampo! Thank's so much for sharing your pictures — yum! I lived three hours away from Chicago and went often…now I live six hours away and it seems never get a chance to go. 🙁 Maybe sometime soon..

    What a great idea to use jicama and cucumber in the place of chips for the guacamole! Now THIS is a great SB friendly tip! 🙂

  7. Gosh, I hope the food never becomes more important than the joy of eating with friends. I won't soon forget the experience, though in middle age I find myself forgetting details more quickly!

  8. Ted, wasn't it fun! Hopefully we can go again sometime, and when we do we'll take good notes about the food (laughing.)

  9. There are so many items in a tasting menu, it's hard to remember them all. However, I do remember being blown away by the tastes and the presentations, impressed by the atmosphere and service, and charmed by the company. Thanks for including me in your BlogHer experience, Lydia and Kalyn, it was a memorable evening.


  10. Marina, the guacamole with jicama and cucumber was great, but it went downhill from there. I hope I never get so strict I can't splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime meal with my friends.

  11. So what phase of SBD would you classify these dishes? LOL

  12. Nika and Dara, this is a special tasting menu, so no online menu and no worries here about whether I remember every single dish either! It was really great fun to see the creative uses of ingredients and presentation. After all, if it had been Macaroni and Cheese or Fried Shrimp I certainly could identify it!

  13. Whether or not you remember the details, the meal looks amazing! I certainly don't think I could remember the details of all of those dishes. Does the restaurant have an online menu that might help you?

  14. Aztami: Kalyn knows whats important here – friends and convivality, not obsessing on details that might have been less than important.

    I dont think its Kalyns responsibility to document the experience for you.

  15. Emily, thanks for the interesting link, but that's not the tasting menu we had. I tried to find the menu online but didn't see it.

    Lydia, it was really a wonderful evening wasn't it.

    Atzami, I think you're being a bit hard on me here. It was more than a month ago, and I did mention quite a few of the ingredients and details which I remembered. It's just that there were so many courses, with each one featuring such unique ingredients and preparation styles that I can't remember them all.

  16. I am not trying to be rude but it is a little surprising that one could enjoy such a fabulous meal yet can't remember any of the details…..even the ingredients (???)

  17. It's such a challenge to take photos in a restaurant (and Topolobampo was so lovely about letting us do it!), but these photos bring back not only the taste, but everything about the experience: gracious and knowledgeable servers, beautiful setting, and excitement about the food. Truly one of the highlights of our time in Chicago. These photos really capture the whole experience. And, a bonus, we met Rick Bayless at BlogHer two days later!

  18. Kalyn,
    Does this link help at all? http://www.rickbayless.com/menu/layout?id=12

    After watching Top Chef Masters, I am SO envious that you dined at Topolobampo. I knew Bayless was talented before, but seeing his work on that show made me crave his food even more!