Chicago Restaurant Week 2014 – Sepia – West Loop

Sepia Pumpkin & Coconut Tart

se·pi·a [see-pee-uh] noun

1. A brown pigment obtained from the inklike secretion of various cuttlefish and used with brush or pen in drawing.

2.Photography A print or photograph made in this color.

After entering the huge wood door the decor takes on its namesake with rich brown tones throughout the space. A beautiful antique camera greets you upon entering the bar and it’s hard to resist the urge to touch it.

Sepia Camera

There is a small sitting area by the bar to wait for your table which is much more convenient than trying to pack in by the bar. The dining room opens up to a large room with giant chandeliers covered in sheer black lamp shades, glossy cream/brown tiled columns, and deep brown tables with soft fabric chairs contrasted against the dark metal doors and exposed brick.

Sepia Dining RoomThe Chicago 2014 Restaurant Week menu was the option for the evening so we went with the three course meal. They offered a wine pairing for $18 and $26 (for the four course menu). The standout dish of the evening was the pumpkin and coconut tart:

Sepia Pumpkin & Coconut Tart

You see how much I liked it, I posted the picture twice. Sweet and savory this came with fried shallot, walnut and pumpkin seed. The presentation was beautiful and the creamy texture of the tart against the graham cracker like crust was perfect. It left me wanting another.

The other appetizer was the soy and sesame cured mackeral.

Sepia Soy & Sesame Cured Mackerel

Another beautifully presented dish, served with kale, ginger and gojujang. The fish was tasted fresh but was missing a flavor or seasoning leaving it on the verge of boring.

The second courses were: coalfish and braised pork collar.

Sepia Coalfish

Can you see the presentation theme going on here? Everything was so pretty. The coalfish was served with sunchoke, brown butter and hazelnut. The dish was flavorful and the crispy buttery skin on the fish was my favorite part. I am okay with smaller portions, the fish was plenty, but the sides were a little too sparse for my liking. They were so good I just wanted more than a couple bites worth.

Sepia Braised Pork Collar

The braised pork collar with apple cider sauce, rutabaga and brussels spouts was quickly finished. I managed to get a bite before the plate was clean. The pork was cooked to perfection and practically melted in my mouth. The richness of the sauce paired nicely with the bite of the brussels spouts. With this dish as well, the sides were lacking in portion. There were about 4 pieces of side total.

The bright side is two big bread servings were delivered to the table and it was hearty substantial brown bread that kept me filled up.

The ancho chocolate mousse tart was a nice way to finish the meal.

Sepia Ancho Chocolate Mousse Tart

Whiskey caramel sauce and candied bacon, who doesn’t like that? This was an appreciated small portion as this was riiiich. I thought the bacon might put it over the top but of course there were more just sprinklings of bacon. Almost too pretty to eat…almost.

Sepia Lemon Ricotta Cake

The lemon ricotta cake with blackberry sauce and honey was almost on the light side and a refreshing palate cleanser.

We were wondering if anyone tried to make off with a bottle from the wine racks that were oh so close to the tables.

Sepia Wine RackI will be back to try the full menu offering and hope the beautifully delicious sides will be in bigger portions.

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