The culinary equivalent of a confetti cannon, this celebratory indulgence not only calls for a glass of Champagne, but also the perfect occasion.
How about tonight?
Because with more and more Chicago chefs adding caviar to their menus, those delicate black pearls are more approachable (and affordable) than ever.
This may seem paradoxical: caviar, after all, has long existed as a status symbol for people who insist on such things, usually delivered with some $30 crackers and a soupçon of pretension.
That’s hardly the case nowadays, but the question remains: Why?
Caviar is literally roe, or fish eggs. But not just any fish eggs. Traditionally, caviar comes from sturgeon: species like beluga, osetra and sevruga. But due to scarcity, other kinds of roe, like salmon and trout — though not “true” caviar — have become more popular of late. Here in Chicago, chefs are experimenting with all manner of roe, and they’re all delicious. Just remember: “real” caviar means sturgeon, and nothing else.
As for how to enjoy it? You’ll want it chilled, first and foremost. Don’t be afraid to sample it on its own (small bites help you experience and explore flavors), but whatever you do, don’t miss the accoutrements: dolloped on a chip, topped with crème fraîche, or lightly smeared on a piece of grilled rye bread.
There is absolutely no wrong way.
Feeling fancy yet? From three-tier fish egg towers to that one caviar pie you probably saw on Instagram, here are our favorite caviar offerings around the city.
Heritage Restaurant and Caviar Bar
What can we say about Heritage that we haven’t already said? A full-blown caviar bar in Humboldt Park might not sound worth your while, but it was hands down one of our favorite openings of last year. It helps that Heritage’s roe docents are there to help you every step of the way. Go for their traditional caviar service, which gets you buttered slabs of Russian black rye toast, seasonal pickled goodies, house-fried chips and all the tiny chopped accoutrements required to build your ideal bite (plus bonus tobiko and Michigan roe).
This West Loop restaurant embodies glitz and glamour, which may explain why it offers a three-tiered lazy susan tower where guests can choose Siberian Baerii, Sasanian Imperial Osetra or the coveted Iranian Pearl Asetra. Expect toast points, potato chips and made-to-order blinks, among other sides. Don’t forget about the bubbly.
Photo: John Stoffer
Lettuce Entertain You’s sexy remake of the storied Pump Room at the Ambassador Chicago has jumped to the top of our list for impressive date nights spots. The restaurant offers a traditional caviar service features Golden Osetra from Kaviari in Paris with classic garnishes like fluffy eggs, crème fraîche, cooked-to-order buckwheat blinis, brunoise red onion and brioche toast.
Photo: Anthony Tahlier
Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos and his new restaurant Bellemore has been making the rounds, and for good reason. They’re bringing fine dining back to the city. But no dish has made a bigger fuss than the Oyster Pie — two mini slices of oyster custard pie topped with Osetra caviar (the most prized and rare in all the land), creme fraiche, and green apple dressed with lemon and dill. For $65 you get the two bites, plus two small pours of Moet & Chandon 2009 Grand Vintage to wash it all down.
Photo: David Szymanski
A hotel bar that looks the part of your dream study, Vol. 39 is perhaps one of the most underrated places to grab post-work drinks in the Loop. It also has a killer caviar service, which is served tableside on a gilded butler cart and includes caviar sold by the .5 and 1 oz portions. We suggest going for the Hackleback domestic surgeon, but if you’re looking for the full experience, ask your bartender about Vol. 39’s caviar tasting.
Main photo: Vol. 39/David Szymanski