Hugo for Restaurant Week
Five friends and I checked out Hugo for Restaurant Week 2008, part 1. Part 1 was last week, and thanks to the really fun blizzard, part 2 is this week. (Yes, the blizzard was fun for those of us who don't have driveways to shovel and had friends who let them crash downtown!)
Are you taking advantage of Restaurant Week, part deux?
(Because of private parties, Daveed's and Hugo aren't participating on Thursday. They have good reason: David and Sean are swapping restaurants!)
Anyway, back to Hugo... we broke the rules: Our party was so large that we couldn't eat together in the lounge. Not all of us wanted the Restaurant Week menu, so we ate in the Magnolia Room off the dining room. I was out with the leadership team of a YP group, and we lingered a long time. This dinner was one of the first times we've gone out without having a project to discuss, and we really get on well. We were a bit louder than the other diners, so I'm glad that we had our own room. We're well-behaved, just energetic and eager.
The staff was more than accommodating, and chef/owner Sean Daly stopped by while we were still having drinks at the bar. He told me all about the aforementioned restaurant swap. (Back in the day, he worked at Daveed's, so he knows that galley kitchen well.)
I had the fried green tomatoes with crab and tomato confit. Perfectly crisp and firm on the inside, with a bright, creamy sauce. I swear off tomatoes in winter, but even the tomato confit had good tomato flavor and color.
Course two was the Hugo salad: romaine, potato, onion, goat cheese and smoked sherry vinaigrette. Another good dish, but I like salads to be really exciting. This one was a bit demure.
Course three was king salmon with Savoy cabbage, butter beans and Dijon cream. Wow! I'm a big fan of butter beans, and the cabbage had just enough bite to it. The salmon was rich, bright and full-flavored -- nothing worse than an anemic piece of salmon. Absolutely delicious!
Most of the table had the tomatoes or the sweet corn fritters (accolades from all) and the free range chicken with greens and bourbon glaze. The chicken was a huge hit, I'm told.
The only thumbs-down came from a guy who "had to have" the macaroni and cheese from the bar menu... then realized after it came that it wasn't what he expected. "It's not like Grandma's," said the waiter, who was right. White cheddar mac with herbs, pancetta and foie gras. Others who tried it deemed it excellent.
Hugo was good, though if I didn't eat fish I might have been hard-pressed to find a dish for me. (Lack of vegetarian entrees is why I'm not a full-on vegetarian, though that could soon change, I've decided.)
Overall, Hugo was great. Two of my friends who live in Hyde Park decided that they would come back often just for drinks -- and the eye candy.