Michael Austin 2014-07-26 07:18:57
HEAD GAINS TETE CHARCUTERIE KEEPS THE CURED-MEAT TREND SMOKING. Meats and sausages made this town. Nobody called it charcuterie back then, but that's what it was. Chicago's carnivore heritage was rough around the edges, and maybe even a little down and dirty... gritty enough to inspire a great novel, The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. Things are different now. About 10 years ago, a few Chicago restaurants started curing meats and stuffing sausages for the emerging foodie culture. That revivifying of meat and spice and fat and flavor is done with style at the fashionable Tete Charcuterie on West Randolph Street, which features an open kitchen and spare, rustic-chic dining room. Check out these old-school butcher classics: head cheese, mortadella, boudin blanc. The presentation of flavor-packed morsels from unspeakable parts is elevated to an art form here. Most of their cured meats come from West Loop Salumi down the street, but the sausages, terrines, pates, snacks, starters and regular entrees are all made in-house. And, as a testament to their success, Tete seems to be drawing in people who don't look like they typically eat a lot of sausages: Groups of fashionable young ladies and upwardly mobile couples on dates abound. While sipping a glass of the house white, a blend of ugni blanc and colombard, a beautiful slice of the house specialty arrived—fromage de tete (head cheese to you English speakers). My dining partner, not a particularly adventurous eater, tried it and liked it, and then regretted out loud not Instagramming it before we hacked it apart. The Morocco sausage, full of merguez lamb, came with fava bean hummus, picholine olive chutney and yogurt for dipping. The boudin blanc, listed on the menu as the sausage from France, could easily be considered the best bratwurst available in Cook County. And the sweetbreads, silky and luscious, arrived with slivers of melty dark chocolate and a mole sauce whose recipe was lovingly stolen from one of the cook's Mexican grandmothers. While the rough-and-tumble meatpacking world of The Jungle is long gone, Tete manages to latch on to Chicago's history; mix in the decade-old charcuterie movement; and add in its own welcome take by offering up rare flavors, expanding on the available palette of cured meats and adding a dash of style and interior p a n a c h e . A set of secret ingredients worthy of any fine sausage. Tete Charcuterie 1114 W . Randolph St. 312.733.1178 tetechicago.com Open for dinner Mon.-Sat., closed Sun. Spot Check Fromage de tete $16 M o r o c c o sausage $16 Boudin blanc $16 Sweetbreads $17
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