Evanston, we have a problem.

Since taking over at Pensiero Ristorante in Evanston, Illinois I’ve noticed a few things about diners that should be brought to the attention of the masses.

For starters, there seems to be a trend in suburbia with create-your-own dishes. I can’t tell you how many times we have heard “I’ll take the duck on the salmon set. ” Or ” I’d like to make my own salad out of three of the other appetizers.”  I’m unsure of what we as cooks have to do to explain to the customer that things are paired with their accoutrement for a reason. I’m not sorry that I refuse to give you a duck’s breast with Blis farm’s char roe. It’s just not going to happen.

The second point of contention is the customer seeming like they know what our job entails and that they can do it better than we can.  At that, I extend a warm welcome into my kitchen and we will see if you last longer than the culinary grad stagier who was sent home last week after five minutes for cutting herbs wrong.

And thirdly, when critiquing a place on open forums, I’d like to ask a favor. Eat the whole dish before slamming it. Know what the fuck you’re talking about before getting it wrong and having me make you look like an asshole. Eat the crispy skin on your fish, finish your vegetables, and appreciate the near slave labor that is going into your food.

For your reading pleasure, check out our most recent review of some of my dishes and one that has been here, untouched, for 21 years:

“We have loved this new version of Pensiero restaurant, but not this evening. Ordered the foie gras “torchon” (this was a pate, not a torchon). The new chef thought it was clever to write “fat” on the side of the plate. It wasn’t. We shared the special tagliatelle pasta with Gran Padrana cheese. (No more half portions of pasta available.) The pasta was lukewarm, the cheese never really melted into it. Taste was lousy. Entrees were fine, but unmemorable. The menu has changed, with little on it that we will order. We couldn’t find a dessert that we were willing to pay for. An old favorite, chocolate budino (their version of the molten chocolate cake) is now paired with an unappetizing fig sorbet. We won’t be back. Too bad”

And your viewing pleasure, here’s the dish. Clever or offensive? You be the judge.

Torchon, not pate.


1 Comment

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One response to “Evanston, we have a problem.

  1. Chef:

    I am not even sure I would give a minute’s thought to a comment by someone who doesn’t know what a torchon is. Honestly. I just wouldn’t. I think the presentation above is whimsical. And I will make it a point to come visit Pensiero and order EXTRA fig sorbet. Because it is likely to be delicious!


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