I must have canceled four reservations before actually dining at One Sixty Blue: I kept putting it off. Maybe I was intimidated because the place is so big and big-city looking. Or because those crowds of postwork advertising execs come dressed to kill. Or because Michael Jordan is a silent partner. I did make it there once, only to leave after the drill to get a table, a glass of water, and a piece of bread proved too difficult for the staff to handle. When I finally surmounted my One Sixty Blue block, I found waiters still perplexed by their craft. But someone in the kitchen definitely knows what he's doing.
Mixed wild mushroom saute
I generally order this dish merely to confirm the superiority of the heavenly portobello at Vinci. This mix is stewed enough to meld but not blur each individual mushroom mystery. Served over tender mascarpone-enhanced polenta, this is subtle, hearty, and-dare I admit it-the winner.
Macadamia nut-crusted sturgeon A neat stack of fish chunks, nice and crunchy outside, dense and meaty in. I'd skip the slightly sour stewed onion stickiness, but it's a small quibble with a delightful dish.
Grilled shrimp Meaty shrimp nicely charred but overly salted washed up against shoals of bumpy couscous and dragged by an unfortunate carrot juice undertow. My martini, heavy with blue-cheese stuffed olives, made a much more satisfying appetizer.
Special Having recently struggled for most of an afternoon and all of an evening to produce a roast duck, I have a newfound respect for this dish. Thin and remarkably flavorful slices of breast meat top a mound of amazingly buttery sweet-potato puree, accompanied by a few stray cranberries, some limp black trumpet mushrooms, and hilarious little radishlike baubles called crosnes.
Our waitress tried to make reparations for the protracted wait with dessert on the house. We tried the pear hazelnut torte, sort of an haute cupcake, and the "pure chocolate" souffle, which arrived hot and fluffy on top, molten inside, and capable of inducing sudden and profound benevolence.
One Sixty Blue, 160 N. Loomis, is open for dinner Monday through Thursday until 10, Friday and Saturday until 11.
Reservations are recommended. Phone: 312-850-0303.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): menue.