Dining at Moto
No room at Alinea? No room at Schwa? What about Moto?
What about Moto?
Like any good foodie, I researched Moto and found reviews to be fairly positive. I was very excited. When I confirmed the reservations, I specified we were coming in for the 10-course tasting menu. Because seriously, who can do the 20-course?
I started out with one of their nifty cocktails. The one pictured came in a mini beaker, bespeaking of the science experiments to come. For you see, Moto was one of those “powders and foams” type places. It’s molecular gastronomy. One memorable quote from someone who went a week or two before me proclaimed it to be better than El Bulli and Noma. Really? The former #1 restaurant and current #1 restaurant in the world? All right then, let’s rock.
After our edible menu amuse which came with diced heirloom tomatoes, we started with tuna. The snowman is sculpted lime foam and then margarita is poured over it to create the effect of a melting snow guy. For all that acid in the mix, it wasn’t very tart. It was a nice way to begin.
My dining companion felt this ono was overcooked. I agree that I have never had cooked ono before. It took on a rather tough exterior and it wasn’t very pretty. However, the roe was good and presentation was very nice.
Service was very interesting to me. Since there were two of us, two servers would come by and serve the dishes. If there were four, I saw four serve so no one had to wait.
This is one crab cake though on the menu it’s described as cakes. The fluffy part was actually cake and the “frosting” was very sweet. I didn’t enjoy this dish as I don’t like sweet with my savory dishes. However, it also smelled very fishy. I ended up scraping the cake and just eating the crab.
All night long, I saw these little mushrooms whiz past. It turns out they are not real mushrooms. Well, they are made from mushroom juices and then pressed into a mold. I enjoyed the maitake mushroom on the plate but found the faux one lacking in concentrated mushroom flavor. The pork belly wasn’t very tender.
This was the chef’s ode to Wrigley Field. It combines an edible cracker jack logo’d paper, coke syrup, peanut powder and this lovely fried quail. The quail was juicy and well-cooked. After three unmemorable dishes, things were picking up.
This rabbit maki was my favorite dish of the night. The sous vide rabbit and rabbit bacon was a twist on traditional sushi. The warm arborio rice was great. And that is not ginger and wasabi but dyed radish and a freeze-dried pea.
I don’t know why they had to go all fancy and call this thing a cannoli. It’s basically a taquito. The duck was way too salty. But I liked trying out all the different powders. It was visually very very cool.
Ahhh, best dessert of the three. As a kid, I loved chestnut cake. This reminded me of those simpler times. It did get overwhelming though so only a few bites did ya.
Another one of these too cool for school courses. I liked the chai ice cream. The noodles were cool. My dining companion felt the the pineapple wasn’t very ripe but it was soaked in something that made the chunks taste sweeter.
More powder. More ice cream. Unnecessary. I get the point. But very pretty. If you dug down under the powder, you were rewarded with a sweet almost fudge sauce.
And now our time with Moto is over. To bid you farewell, they sent out a beaker with stuff that made you puff like a magic dragon. Okay, so maybe that’s not so exciting and this is a drug-free spot. No, it’s what they called the Neroli float..the idea was to eat that marshmallow looking thing and do the shot. It should taste like an orange soda.
Although this meal was conceptually very interesting, not every dish worked. But I don’t really expect all the courses to blow my mind. I thought the food was better the next night at Graham Elliot but Moto took far more risks. Although I probably would not return, this meal was a bit more memorable. And the funny thing about the item I really enjoyed at Graham Elliot was that pistachio dessert. I would learn their pastry chef worked at Moto. So perhaps Moto is a bit of a “c’mon” to some people but at least people get to play and after all, it’s just a science experiment.
945 W Fulton Market
Chicago, Illinois 60607