Fall break had finally arrived. What better way to spend four days off from my busy college life than to take a trip to Chicago with some of my homies? We took the train in from St. Louis, which took six hours, but luckily Amtrak is so comfortable that we were all able to sleep for at least half the ride.
Following the commute, the four of us agreed to embark on a great food journey. We experienced all different types of delicious Chicago classics, from the famous deep dish pizza at Giordano's to amazing Wagyu sushi at Jellyfish to incredible Kung Pow Chicken at Shanghai Terrace.
Along the way, one of my friends, Luke, decided that he wanted to live the weekend on the lavish side and ordered a dish with truffles. For the rest of our trip, whenever he saw a truffle dish on the menu at a restaurant, he automatically ordered it.
Here, I leave an account of Luke's journey through Chicago truffle extravaganza. Please refrain from licking your screens.
Destination 1: RPM ItalianDish: Wood-Oven Pizzette with Cremini Mushrooms
Feast your eyes on this marvelous dish from RPM Italian, one of the most respected Italian restaurants in Chicago. We came here for brunch and then learned that the restaurant doesn't actually serve brunch—it was simply the dinner menu served all day.
But not to worry: this appetizer pizza with cremini mushrooms, truffles (of course) and fontina fonduta was as delicious as it sounds. The earthy shaved truffles were extremely flavorful and complemented the creamy cheese perfectly.Dish: Ricotta Gnocchi with Australian Black Truffles
After settling on the above mouthwatering appetizer, the waiter then listed off the specials. That's when we heard the words: "Ricotta Gnocchi with Australian Black Truffles." That is a bit above my budget, I thought to myself. "I'll take one," I heard Luke announce with purpose. Jeez.When the dish arrived, I could see why it was so expensive (it was sheer beauty)—and I immediately asked for a bite. The buttery creaminess of the ricotta, along with the tenderness of the soft pasta, melted in my mouth. The classic truffle flavor lingered in the back of my nose, a welcome reminder of the incredible delicacy itself.
Destination 2: Shanghai TerraceDish: Scallops with Black Truffle Sauce
We wanted to make dinner extra special, so we looked up the top Chinese restaurants in Chicago. After just a quick search, it was clear that we would have to make the trip to Shanghai Terrace inside of the Peninsula Hotel.
Again, we were blessed to see truffles on the menu, situated inside of a small black box under the specials section. I knew Luke would go right for them: "I'll have the scallops with black truffle sauce." Nailed it. Thank goodness he let me try a piece because one bite brought me straight to the promised land: the best scallop of my life, and I'm not a big scallops guy. It cut like butter and melted in my mouth with a very subtle truffle flavor, pleasing every one of my food senses.
Destination 3: Sixteen
It was time for breakfast on the morning of our departure. We wanted to try a nearby restaurant, so my group visited the Restaurant Sixteen on the sixteenth floor of Trump Tower. After hearing about the restaurant's ridiculous prices and celebrated dishes, we thought we'd all end our over-the-top, truffle-infused weekend on an equally lavish note. My simple choice of an onion bagel with cream cheese and coffee set me back $8. Unbelievable.
That said, there was one particular thing on the menu that stood out: the three-egg omelette with bacon, cheddar, peppers, red onion and spinach, accompanied by breakfast potatoes and a roasted tomato for a whopping $32. "I'll have the omelette... with truffles." Tack on another $8. When the dish came, the server shaved a palm sized black truffle right in front of our eyes, directly onto the omelette. I watched in awe as I spread cream cheese on my small not-even-New-York bagel in defeat. I did not taste the omelette, but from the primary source himself, it was "exquisite."
It's safe to say my friends and I might be a bit truffle-obsessed, but if you find yourself in Chicago, definitely check out these shroomy locations. You won't regret it. I can't say the same about your wallet, however.