Balsan – Sunday Family-Style Supper

October 04 2010 - 10:24 AM

The Elysian is a stunning example of a modern high rise that can pull off classical elegance without being over the top.  Somehow it manages to be discrete as well; from its hidden, European-style courtyard to its impressive marble foyer, it was almost impossible to figure out how to go to Balsan, the restaurant on the third floor.

Along with other writers, we were invited to sample the $29 family-style Sunday night meal.  A tasty salad was served first, made of apple, celeriac (a type of celery root), and arugula, mixed with tarragon and a mustard vinagrette.  The other starter was perfectly-cooked sea scallops with fennel, orange butter sauce, parsley, and capers (though, frankly, how many times do you get bad scallops?).  

The whole roasted Berkshire pork belly was the highlight, with fatty, thick cuts accompanied by turnips with carrots and outstanding chanterelle mushrooms mixed with grapes and savory.   The mussels were also good, but the fries on top were rather soggy, something that may have been avoided by placing the bearnaise sauce on the side.

The apple cobbler at the end was delicious as well, as was the immensely-affordable $28 Pinot Noir from Domaine Brunet from the de la mediterranee region, a vin de pays with notes of cherries and a surprising bit of boldness.   The Super Tuscan (sangiovese-syrah-grenache) at the same price from Fottoria Capannacce was more peppery and viscious but had a more fruit-forward New World feel.

The three course Sunday Supper is excellent value for an upscale River North restaurant at $29, and I may be coming back again to take advantage.

11 E. Walton