Have you heard of Two, the farm-to-table restaurant that opened on the near West Side last August? It wasn’t on my radar until I met fellow blogger Erin from the Daily E and Color My Styled at the Chicago Blogger Network Oscar party earlier this month. Of course the topic turned to food and she told me about this great restaurant on W. Grand that she had just visited and highly recommended. The very next day I made a reservation and a few weeks later Mike and I were enjoying a fantastic dinner with friends at TWO.
As soon as we arrived we were warmly welcomed and seated by Yamandu, the owner. Immediately we noticed all the character packed into this small space. The meat cleavers hung behind the bar and the reclaimed wood throughout give you a glimpse of what they’re all about-in a nutshell, quality ingredients sourced from small Midwestern farms used create a seasonal menu of delicious dishes. Throw in fantastic service and some strong, tasty cocktails and this, my friends, is the place to be!
First things first we started with cocktails. I opted for the Blood Orange Marg-a tasty twist on the standard margarita. I could drink a lot of these (although I might regret it the next day). Mike went for Brasky’s Revenge-a Templeton Rye cocktail poured over a coffee ice cube. As the ice cube melts the flavor profile of the drink changes-it took a lot of restraint on Mike’s part to let it melt! The boys also sampled a few microbrews while the ladies opted for a second round of cocktails with the Wet Hound. A combination of a Greyhound and a Mojito, this was by far my favorite drink of the night. Grapefruit and mint is definitely a winning combo!
As soon as our drink orders were place we dove into the dinner menu. Similar to my thoughts on Siena Tavern, I think the ideal group size for Two is 4 people. The plates are smaller and meant to be shared-we found they were the perfect portion for a group of 4 to split and each get a taste while maximizing the number of different dishes you can try. Whatever your group size, the staff at Two will go above and beyond to accommodate you. One of the desserts we ordered only came with 3 pieces and they suggested adding an additional piece so everyone got their own. Outstanding service was definitely a theme of the night-Yamandu even took me out back to see their smoker after I asked if they smoked their own meats!
We ordered 7 dishes and 2 desserts for our group of 4. First up were the Duck Fat Potato Croquettes served with a chili aioli and topped with parmesan cheese. Yes, these were as good as they sound. Crunchy, fried goodness on the outside and smooth, creamy potatoes on the inside…get. in. my. belly. (They did, and they were awesome.)
Next up we had the Red Wine Braised Beef Cheek and the P.E.I Mussels. The beef cheek was topped with homemade ricotta cheese, apple, and chives and served with crostini. The crostini was a bit over-grilled but top it with the tender, flavorful beef cheek and all is right in the world. The mussels were swimming in a lovely white wine sauce that we happily sopped up with more slices of grilled baguette until the bowl was dry.
Next were the Sea Scallops and Roasted Bone Marrow. The scallops were perfectly cooked, served on roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes and topped with crispy coppa. The marrow was rich and delicious and was served with a 5 hour bacon jam that I could eat by the spoonful. This is the 2nd time Mike has had bone marrow now and I think he may be hooked!
Our final 2 non-dessert dishes were the pastas, and these were definitely my favorites of the bunch. The first was a homemade cavatelli with pork neck and sausage gravy and herb whipped ricotta. This “gravy” was sooo good (their gravy=a thick meat sauce to me). It was so flavorful and topped with the whipped ricotta it was just a really great dish.
Our second pasta dish was the Duck Egg Pasta with duck confit, duck skin cracklins, scallions, and parmesan. Duck, duck….and more duck! (You were ready for goose, weren’t you?) This dish was equally as delicious as the cavatelli but so different, in a very good way. The noodles were perfectly buttery and the dish actually felt light, like I might enjoy it on a patio on a spring day, if we ever end up seeing one of those around here. Everything just worked so well together, including the duck skin cracklins which I think may be my new favorite thing-partly just because I like the word “cracklins”!
Finally we made it too dessert. Yamandu clued us in to the fact that they make their own ice creams so we definitely had to try those. We also ordered the Homemade Pretzel Donuts based on his recommendation as well. The ice cream was exactly what you’d expect from homemade ice cream- a whole lot of creamy goodness. They had banana, butterfinger, and chocolate/coffee flavors-my favorites were the butterfinger and the chocolate/coffee. The pretzel donuts were warm and sugary, filled with a little chocolate and served with a warm chocolate drink for dipping-they made for a very sweet ending.