Our party of six entered bustling Chicon a little after 9:00 p.m. last Saturday night. It was a good thing we had a reservation, because it seemed like just about every table was taken. We started with various wines and beers and one friend had the New Dehli Mule with vodka, grapefruit, ginger beer, honey and cardamom (deemed a refreshing aperitif). I had the San Pietro Lagrein Alto Adige, an Italian red which was smooth and earthy. For starter, my husband and I split the Red and Yellow Beets with grapefruit yogurt, green garlic, pecans and touch of dill. The plate was a beautiful riot of color with serious composition (presentation is ever present here, just as it was at Gardner), and the flavor was fresh and hit all the high notes, with an added subtle crunch from the nuts. For entrée, two friends split the Grilled Half Chicken (designed for sharing) with grilled green vegetables, romaine hearts, camp bread with three sauces: buttermilk ranch, chili de arbol and chili guajillio. I had one bite of the chicken with one of the chili sauces and was struck by the tenderness of the chicken and the wonderfully intense flavor of the sauce. A real standout. Another friend had the Striped Bass with grilled turnips, aleppo pepper and almond salsa verde. I didn't taste this dish, but was told it was delicious. My husband had the Burger and Fries on a challah bun with aïoli and pickles plus added bacon (cheese is also available). He enjoyed it tremendously and noted that it is the same burger served at Contigo (and perhaps similar to the one once offered at Gardner). One friend and I both ordered the Flat Iron Steak with fingerling potatoes, cipollini onions and burnt tomato vinaigrette. I was impressed once again with the presentation of the dish--the steak was sliced and carefully arranged on the plate with layers of onions and radishes between the slices of meat. The steak was perfectly cooked, tender and made even more flavorful by the vinaigrette.
There was no room for dessert, but I was sorely tempted by the walnut chocolate chip ice cream and the black pepper ice cream. Chicon retains the lovely outdoor patio that everyone enjoyed from the Gardner days as well as the side bar (see photo below). Happy hour is Sunday-Thursday 5:00-6:30 p.m. Sunday Brunch is 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., and with menu items such as Smoked Trout “Taco”, ‘Nduja Deviled Eggs, and Chicken Sausage Hash, I believe brunch will need to be part of my next visit to Chicon.