I have only heard great things about Bar Pastoral’s Lakeview restaurant, so when they invited me to try their seasonal prix fixe menu, I enthusiastically accepted. The Pastoral company focuses on artisanal cheeses, wines, and breads and offers them at four shops and two restaurants around Chicago. Bar Pastoral is Pastoral’s Lakeview restaurant and wine bar, which sits adjacent to Pastoral’s original shop.
I checked out the restaurant’s seasonal prix fixe menu at the end of the summer. The three-course, prix fixe menu costs $29 and is available Sunday through Wednesday. Although Bar Pastoral recently launched their fall prix fixe menu, there are current menu items similar to those I describe in this review.
Bar Pastoral is picturesquely cozy. The restaurant’s exposed brick walls and dim create rustic charm. Bar Pastoral is a perfect spot for date night or for enjoying wine and cheese with friends after work.
Next door to the restaurant is Pastoral’s original shop. Stop by before dinner to grab wine and cheese to bring home, or come back during lunch for a sandwich or pre-made picnic basket.
Bar Pastoral’s three course prix fixe menu is available Sunday through Wednesday. $29 gets you an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The summer menu featured two options for each course, while the brand-new fall menu gives you three options for each course.
I was able to sample every option on the summer menu to get the full experience. I recommend bringing a friend and sharing each item to try as many offerings as possible. As Bar Pastoral is a wine bar and restaurant, ask your waiter to help you select a wine pairing for your meal.
The Shaved Summer Squash Salad ($12 -prices denoted on an a la carte basis, although $29 gets you one choice from each course) consisted of tomatoes, squash, goat cheese and pickled beets drizzled in two vinaigrettes. The salad was splendidly light and refreshing, perfect for a late summer meal.
The other salad on the summer prix fixe menu was the Charred Peach Salad ($11). It was my favorite of the two. Grilled peaches lay on a bed of arugula. The peaches were topped with cheese shavings and a reduced balsamic vinaigrette. I was worried that the sweet and bitter combination would be strange, but it was delicious. The peaches were actually quite neutral. All of the ingredients went together beautifully.
The first entree of the night was the Seasonal Chicken Thigh ($15) served with a couscous remoulade and baked apricots. I love stone fruit, so I was excited that two of the dishes came with them. The apricots added a nice sweetness to the dish. The chicken meat was soft and tender, while the skin was crisped to perfection. The remoulade was a pesto made of carrot leaves. The dish was delicious and well-seasoned.
The waitress explained that the Gnocchi Parisienne ($15) differed from traditional gnocchi because it was made of French pastry rather than potatoes. I love both pastry and potatoes, so gnocchi made either way was fine with me. The gnocchi was heavenly. It had a fluffier texture than potato gnocchi. It was like a crispy shell with a soft, pillowy interior. The sauce that the gnocchi came with was creamy and slightly tart. It was a winning combination.
Bar Pastoral knows how to combine unlikely ingredients into a tasty symphony of flavors. Dessert was no exception. Bar Pastoral partnered with neighboring Bobtail Ice Cream to debut its Gouda Ice Cream at Taste of Chicago earlier this summer. People loved it so much that Bar Pastoral brought it back in-house. Although I was skeptical of cheese ice cream at first, it took just one spoonful to understand why Chicagoans loved it so much. The gouda ice cream is thicker and creamier than regular ice cream. It also has a subtle sweetness, which makes it more sophisticated than your average ice cream, in my opinion. The Gouda ice cream was served on a bed of chocolate ganache and sprinkled with spicy pistachios that tastes of candied ginger. The entire combination was unforgettable. I hope this ice cream sticks around past summer!
The final dish of the night was the Strawberries and Cream ($8), another cheese-based dessert. It consisted of Italian nocciola cheese on a bed of strawberry champagne jam with graham cracker chunks. Unlike the Gouda ice cream, this dish tasted cheesey and lacked sweetness. If you partake in the French tradition of a cheese course following dinner, this is the dessert for you. I, however, much preferred the Gouda ice cream.
The Bottom Line:
In a time when so many restaurants are trying to outdo each other by chasing after the next big concept, Bar Pastoral outdoes its competition by focusing on the simplicity of pure, delicious foods. The restaurant is perfect for wine and cheese after work or cozy dates with a loved one.
2947 N. Broadway St. (Lakeview)
Chicago, IL 60657