Here is my one-sentence review: Oriole is one of, if not the top, culinary experiences money can buy in Chicago. I recommend going in fresh and enjoying the sensory spectacle! For the rest that want more details, I will try my best to convey my experience, however impossible. You need to experience yourself.
When first escorted into the dining space by our waiter, we saw the magnificent kitchen, designed by chef Noah Sandoval himself (we learned that from our knowledgeable and excellent waiter). The ceiling immediately caught my eye, a colorful collage of print media. It was a tribute to the history of the building (it once was a printing press, another fact we learned).
After we finally finished gazing at everything and settled in, the first few bites arrived. The first bite, a Miyazaki Tartare, played on duality: it was crispy and chewy, fatty and fresh. It was a tiny view of things to come, earning the gold medal from me of the three initial bites. The other two were great also, but that first bite lingers on my mind.
After the small bites came one of my favorite dishes of the night: the Hudson Valley Foie Gras. It was almost too mesmerizing to eat. Edible gold artfully decorated the leaf garnish with confidence. The richness and sweetness of the dish lit up my entire tongue with flavor, and the freshness of the greens was cooling, cleansing my palette and prepping me for the next plate. It was perfect.
We resumed our journey through several delightful dishes, each highlighting a myriad of flavors, aromas, and techniques. And then we arrived at the squab. I have had okay experiences with squab, and it is not a highlight of mine from previous tasting menus. My wife's mood, inversely, went even higher, as she loves it. Despite my hesitance, I took my first bite, and to my gleeful surprise, it was good! It was a BBQ-lite dish, getting that flavor from the squab as it hit my tongue, with a side of black-eyed peas further cementing the theme. I can't say I'm a squab convert, but given I enjoyed the flavors earns Oriole even more kudos from me.
The last of the hearty dishes was a mic drop. It was a flawless Miyazaki Wagyu garnished with freshly grated wasabi, morel mushrooms, and white asparagus. It delivered an explosion of flavor. The fattiness of the steak was uniquely balanced by the spicy punch of the wasabi, while the mushrooms and asparagus complemented the two-punch combo with a left hook of earthiness that knocked me to another dimension. This was a fine dining twist on steak with sides of vegetables, but it is the most elevated version of this pairing that I have had. The worst part was when I took my last bite, knowing what was coming: the finale. I wished I could prolong my indulgence in this gastronomic masterpiece. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and the first of the desserts signaled the beginning of the end.
Of the dessert trilogy closing the night, the lemon and sesame souffle was particularly brilliant. The bright citrus of the lemon cut through the cheesiness. Sesame seeds within the souffle provided a crunch to what could have been a minimalistic texture. Do I even need to mention the bake on the souffle? It came straight out of the oven, piping hot, but once cooled, was a mouthful of clouds. Light, fluffy, cheesy, citrusy, slightly crunchy, we were in a dream. The very last dessert concluded our meal intimately, with “Happy Anniversary!” inscribed with chocolate on the plate. Oriole went above my expectations to celebrate us, for which I am super thankful and appreciative!
In closing, thank you to the Oriole staff for the exciting evening made even more special with the recognition of our anniversary! The food was creative, outstanding, and downright delicious. The wine pairings were thoughtful. The service was exemplary. Oriole has set the bar for me of what fine dining can be and should be. I cannot recommend them enough to anyone looking to celebrate a special occasion or an amazing adventure in food.