UPDATE: This restaurant has closed.
Succulent crispy pork belly. Flavorful mortadella, hams and pâtés. An array of fresh and smoked sausages, served with house-made pickles and mustard. They were fresh, made from local ingredients, and seasoned to perfection. I tried them all last Saturday, when myself and other Chicago food bloggers were invited to attend the grand opening of TÊTE Charcuterie, which is located in Chicago’s historic meatpacking district.
TÊTE Charcuterie came into being when executive chefs Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski and managing partner Daniel Goodman decided to bring a well-known European culinary tradition to Chicago. They used the Parisian charcuteries and boucheries as their source of inspiration, and created a menu which pays homage to the history of charcuterie, but also pushes the tradition one step further by showcasing dishes informed by a variety of cultural influences, from Germany and Spain to the US and the Philippines.
As you can imagine, I did a lot of sampling at this event, trying everything from fried pork belly to mortadella, and from pâté bourguignon to a variety of smoked sausages. They were all fresh and tasty, and the pickles and mustard complemented the smokiness of the sausages beautifully. I was pleased to sample pan fried chicken hearts, which in my view are very underused and underrated. The soft and tender hearts were served with a flavorful spicy dipping sauce.
The Rosette de Lyon was my favorite by far. Made with pork, red wine, quatre épices (a traditional French spice mix), garlic and black peppercorns, it reminded me of a dry sausage I used to eat in my home country when I was little. Back then, fresh meat and meat products were very hard to find, and eating meat was a truly special occasion. Remember that key scene from the animated movie Ratatouille, when food critic Anton Ego tastes the ratatouille made by Remy and goes back in time to his mom’s cooking, in a moment that fills his heart with both joy and astonishment? I had a similar experience when eating the Rosette de Lyon at TÊTE Charcuterie. In the space of a second, my mind traveled back in time, to memories I had long thought forgotten, and to people that I hold very dear to my heart. What a unique experience!
During the grand opening the chefs also prepared some of their fresh sausage-based and à la carte menu items. The open kitchen design allowed me to observe them closely, and I really enjoyed the experience.
I had a great time at TÊTE Charcuterie and I would happily return, especially for the Rosette de Lyon. I am glad Chicago has a new culinary “hot spot” in a fitting and historically charged location. Modern and sophisticated, this place takes the best from the old and the new and makes both its own, for the delight and enjoyment of many.
*Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated by TÊTE Charcuterie for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.