De Quay (2470 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614) has been on many shortlists as one of the top new Chicago restaurants of the last year. Moreover, De Quay has been on our shortlist for its unique combination of the cuisine of the Netherlands and Indonesia (which was once a Dutch colony). Now that we don’t live in Chicago anymore, we have had to cram in as many restaurants as possible on each trip, and De Quay was at the top of our list. At the height of Restaurant Week, we managed to squeeze in a last-minute seating at the bar after striking out on table reservations: one of the best decisions we have made recently!
The three course Restaurant Week dinner was $33, and included dishes that can be found on the main menu, as well as other that were created specifically for Restaurant Week. We don’t often sit at the bar, but we like to sometimes, at the right kind of restaurant. Turns out this is that kind of place. Small restaurant, casual, good vibe. The servers and bartender took care of us right away, and made a custom non-alcoholic cocktail that was fruity and gingery – not at all sweet – which we loved. The restaurant week menu had 3 options for each of appetizers and mains, and we each selected something different, which was kind of difficult, since every option seemed delicious.
Our first appetizer was pea soup with smoked Rookwurst sausage and cheese bread pudding. On first glance, it looked like a traditional pea soup but the sausage added another dimension, as did the spicy sambal olek sauce, the Maasdam cheese bread pudding (which was more like a slice of cheesy bread) was a good accompaniment. The second appetizer was beef and sesame lumpia with Indonesian salad and a tasty sambal sauce which made the dish. In this dish we could really taste the Indonesian flavors coming out, and we loved the heavily-spiced beef filling. For our mains we got lamb Rendang curry with vegetables, and crispy krupuks (deep fried crackers) made of rice and cassava, and shrimp sate skewers with mango chutney and sweet potato and pandan chips. Both entrees were excellent, sophisticated, well-plated and with complex flavors that melded the two cuisines. The rich and fragrant lamb curry was probably our favorite dish of the night. The shrimp skewer was nearly as good, and the peanut sauce was out of this world.
For dessert we had a traditional stroopwafel with vanilla ice cream. This was a pretty straightforward Dutch dish, and consisted of two thin waffle cookies sandwiching a sweet, caramel-y syrup. While the waffle cookies were good M was most excited about the tasty vanilla gelato alongside. Our second dessert was a peanut butter mousse pave with chocolate base and a quince puree with speculaas spice. Though the peanut butter and chocolate combo is one of our favorites, we were pleasantly surprised by the additions of fruity and cinnamon flavors.
From start to finish, our meal at De Quay was a real treat, from the unique and elegant food to the excellent service. This was a unique experience for us because it was one of the first times we have gone to a higher-end restaurant, where we have been unfamiliar with the type of cuisine, and come out really enjoying ourselves. Chicago Restaurant Week 2016 runs until February 4 so there is still time to sample this particular menu at De Quay. However, we are looking forward to coming back for some of the dishes on the regular menu to see what kind of Dutch/Indonesian fusion creations are in store.