Curry Braised Lamb Shank vegetables, pistachio, mint gnocchi and “oven goat cheese,” Frog n Snail, Chicago.
I had completely forgotten that Dale Levitski’s new place had just opened up in Lakeview/Boystown, but luckily a friend of mine had remembered! Sprout, his other restaurant, has always been on my gigantic list of places to dine in Chicago, but it’s expensive and just not as accessible as Frog n Snail, at least from what I can tell. What I’m saying is, Frog n Snail is the type of place I could see myself going often.
The wait was under 45 minutes on a Friday at 7 (surprising to me, for a new restaurant with a fair amount of buzz). They’re still waiting on their liquor license to come through, but apparently will have a full bar soon. So it was BYOB with no corkage fee on this trip.
The menu caught my heart from the start, but unfortunately I was looking at the lunch menu! Dinner had just begun when I came, so I’ve got to go back for lunch to try these ratatouille and trout sandwiches.
We started with the ricotta dip with bacon, broccoli, herbs and a baguette. And it was just ok. It’s pretty hard to displease me with a big heap of cheese, not to mention the bacon added in, but alas, they did.
But the thing is, I don’t really care if a place messes up the appetizers when the entrees are this awesome. After giving a fairly indecisive heming and hawing performance, I decided to go with the Curry Braised Lamb Shank, with vegetables, pistachio, mint gnocchi and “oven goat cheese.” Now goat cheese got my attention, but I really love lamb and curry, in fact I’d only had lamb in Indian dishes before this, I think. I’d definitely never had all these flavors together though. Mint gnocchi?! Mostly what came to mind was a giant pasta-like gooey tic-tac.
But it ruled! The flavors were really subtle, the mint was barely minty, the curry wasn’t too spicy but was embedded in the juicy chunks of lamb. Another plus, I don’t like single huge hunks of meat, and this was served divided. It all went together really well and surprised me, which is what my favorite dishes do: surprise me with flavor and texture combinations that I end up loving. Overall I was really happy, and it wasn’t just because by this point we’d destroyed a lot of cheap wine.
The interior looked pretty sexy to me from these photos, but since we were in the very front, it was hard to tell what it’d really be like in there once it’s dark and you’re tucked back in the more intimate setting.
We ended with a profiterole with 3 scoops of Black Dog Gelato, and you just can’t really go wrong there.
I also tried the barramundi and trout, and both were just about as good as that lamb.
I’m looking forward to coming back and will most definitely be going straight for the meats, something I don’t often feel fervor for. Good job, Frog n Snail.