A huge, custom-made charcuterie and cheese plate at Balsan
Speculation aside, what's happening at the moment is a renewed focus on the hotel's more casual American bistro, Balsan. In September, the hotel appointed Executive Chef Herve Cuyeu, a native of Bordeaux and most recently at the helm of Florida's Waldorf Astoria Naples. Cuyeu will also oversee cuisine in the hotel's bar (Bernard’s Bar) as well as the cuisine for catering, in-room dining and the spa. Quite an undertaking.
We stopped by recently to give Chef Cuyeu's menu a whirl, discovering we may actually love Balsan even more than before. Balsan has long been known for its rockstar raw bar and Super Sundays, but this time the rest of the menu did not disappoint. A super robust and well-crafted charcuterie and cheese board, seared scallops with rutabaga cream, a ridiculous honeycrisp apple fritter -- each was better than the next. And sitting there dining at our secluded, banquette-like table with a "Blood and Sand" scotch cocktail, we found ourselves blissfully unaware of Ria.
So, what will become of Ria? We'll keep you posted, as always. In the meantime, we hope Balsan keeps killing it on the culinary front.
Room rates at Waldorf Astoria Chicago currently start at $325.
[Photos: Nina Kokotas Hahn for HotelChatter]