Tim Foolery

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Where I’m Eating…Kiki’s Bistro (Chicago)

My birthday was Friday. After a minor last minute change of plans (thanks to a concert cancellation), we went to a French Restaurant in the Gold Coast neighborhood.  As you all know, I’ve been taking French classes at Alliance Francaise and spent a long weekend in the fall in Paris — having French food was a great option for my birthday.

I got to the restaurant a little early and ordered a Kir Royale and sat at the bar while reading a French newspaper (my French skills didn’t allow me to fully understand the article, but I got the idea).  While sitting at the bar, Kiki (the owner) and a woman (his wife? the manager? someone) came up and chatted with me for a while. They knew it was my birthday, but when they saw me reading the French news paper Kiki began speaking French to me. I explained (in French) that I am only studying at Alliance and I am a recent convert to French food.  The woman told Kiki that my group must be seated in Abdel’s section. Abdel is from Morocco and speaks French fluently.  She suggested I only deal with Abdel in French — that’s a tough order.

Everyone else arrives and we are seated.  The restaurant is so much bigger than you’d expect. Over each table are tea lights hang in small glass globes. The bistro has open beam ceilings and reminded me of a couple of the restaurants we visited in Paris.

Abdel took our cocktail order – yes, I did order in French, but did not order for the rest of the table.  I ordered a bottle of wine for the table, which was quite tasty 2003 Bordeaux.  The menu selections for each guest is listed below:

Salade Lyonnaise
Braised Short Ribs
Warm Berry Bread Pudding

RK: I don’t really remember everything RK got, so his list is not 100% correct.
Endive Salad
Steak Pommes Frites
Traditional Lemon Tart

Sopa a l’Onion Gratinee
Rack of Lamb
Crepes Suzette

Sopa a l’Onion Gratinee
Veau Provencale
Profiteroles au Chocolat

Every appetizer was completely devoured by each guest. This wasn’t the best  Sopa a l’Onion I’ve ever had. It was so much better than the version I made, of course.  I would order it again though.

Each of the entrees were top notch. Everyone tasted each other’s choice. Every item was better than the previous I had tasted.  I think my least favorite was RK’s steak. It was really tasty, just my least favorite – it was served with a bearnaise sauce, which evidently was amazing, I didn’t try it.

The short ribs were my favorite, but I think they were too rich for a full meal – but for a quick taste it was amazing. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to finish them if they were my entree.

While I’m not a big dessert person, the Profiteroles were quite lovely. I really don’t like Profiteroles with cream fillings (are those still called Profiteroles?), I think the addition of ice cream really makes it perfect. The Crepes Suzette was perfectly prepared (in my mind). I didn’t sample the other desserts.

I had a great evening with friends and a great meal. Would I return to Kiki’s? Absolutely. I thought the restaurant was great, the food was wonderful and the service was excellent.  You get amazing French food in a restaurant that looks like it was pulled out of the Marais in Paris without dealing with a language issue.  If you are studying French and want to practice you must go to Kiki’s: speak with Kiki and Abdel. You cannot go wrong. I apologize for not taking photos of the food or the interior – my photos wouldn’t have done Kiki’s justice – make a reservation. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Have you been to Kiki’s? What did you think?  When you are learning a new language do you try to use it as much as possible, even while not traveling abroad? Ou se trouvent les toilettes?  What is your favorite French food? Where is your go to place for French food in Chicago?

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