Chicago has seen a slew of excellent modern Asian (Fat Rice, Parachute, Momotaro), Italian (Osteria Langhe, Formento’s, Ceres’ Table) and even Spanish restaurants (Salero, Bom Bolla, mfk) opening over the past couple of years. But aside from The Blanchard, there haven’t been many notable French newcomers. Now there is George Trois.
This most ambitious endeavor by Chef Michael Lachowicz bills itself as country French fare, but with an intimacy and refinement beyond a simple bistro, challenging the likes of Everest and Les Nomades. The 20-seat restaurant is nestled into the former private dining room of Restaurant Michael, and only open Thursday through Sunday.
“French food doesn’t need to be reinvented, but just rediscovered,” Lachowicz says. “Nobody else is doing French food in this style.” Lachowicz’s interpretation of French cuisine, influenced by years spent working with Jean Banchet and Roland Liccioni, comes in the form of a seven- or 10-course tasting menu available for $140 or $160, along with an optional wine pairing.
Opening George Trois, named in honor of his grandfather and uncle, is a story of redemption. Lachowicz went through a dark time in the past decade and it took him five years to get sober and take back control of his life and health. “I was scared I was getting older and I wasn’t meeting expectations,” he admits.
With George Trois, he has finally found his peace and culinary voice. “This is the first time I’m presenting myself as Michael Lachowicz,” he says. “It took a long time to build this repertoire and be comfortable.” Now, he is back in the kitchen working on the line, cooking and plating every dish on the George Trois tasting menu.
The foie gras flight is a highlight of the meal. Normally too rich for my taste, here three miniature preparations celebrate the Perigord, Alsace and Burgundy regions of France. Each medley of complex flavors, from a pan-seared cube on truffle butter brioche topped with crisp onion to a chilled terrine with brandied cherries and toasted almonds, is just enough to savor in a couple bites and leaves you craving the courses to come instead of filling you up unnecessarily.
Chanterelles, sorrel and curry sauce accompany a delicate fillet of flaky turbot dusted with a light orange crust. A few courses later, a duo of veal and venison is presented on one plate, the sauces separated by a crispy chickpea frite. Between alternating mouthfuls, it’s hard to pick a favorite of the two meats — the veal striploin and sweetbreads swimming in morel mushroom cream or the venison dressed with huckleberries and chestnut purée along with baby Brussels sprouts.
Although 70 percent of Restaurant Michael’s clientele are locals from the North Shore, that may soon change as the word gets out. George Trois has asserted itself as a destination restaurant. There’s no better reason to get on the Metra, or in your car, and head north from the city.
64 Green Bay Road