Tribute, the three month old restaurant/lounge adjoined to the Essex Inn on Michigan Avenue, is authentic, artistically creative, and attractive from the inside out. Fine attention has been paid to detail and ambiance. An air of artistic expertise wafts from the repurposed old film strip lighting fixtures and seatbelt chairs. Real flower arrangements and trees have been placed throughout; giving Tribute’s mod décor a home-y feel. Being surrounded by huge floor to ceiling windows allows this indoor location to be spacious and welcoming.
The ordering began and I became a little worried after learning that the Turnip Veloute smoked shitake and leek soup that I saw on the menu (and was really excited about) had been discontinued. They were also out of the trout at 8:30 on a Wednesday night with a more than half empty dining area. Luckily, they had white fish available and as the small plates started to roll out, each dish was nothing short of delightful.
The Yellow Tail Hamachi with succotash was straightforward with summer fresh flavors and subtle complexities unique enough to be anonymous while simultaneously proving robustness. Impressive. The satiny-smooth smoked trout paté was also wonderfully flavorful. We also created our own dish; a salad with chanterelles. The mushrooms came out perfectly cooked; however, I felt that the overall integrity of the mushroom was drowned in seasoning and butter. When using fresh, higher end ingredients, they can be best enjoyed when the natural flavor can be detected. Otherwise what a waste of a great mushroom! These feelings were immediately negated after our scrumptious entrees arrived.
The Duck was creatively prepared utilizing as much of the bird as possible. Duck rice and fruit pilaf, straight up sliced breast, and duck wrapped in kale. My meal was a modification that the owner and I conjured up trying to get as many nutrients into the fish dish as possible; a true test for the chef. Low and behold… executive chef Lawrence Letrero prepared a great white fish atop a delicious smoky, savory tomato puree with the freshest, fattest, chewiest, most perfectly cooked peas around. Maybe next time he will remember to include the mussels. Nonetheless, Working with a server who really puts himself out on the line for his tables and a manager who was incredibly accommodating, we really felt taken care of and. Too stuffed to enjoy anything else, we vowed to return for the unique drinks and dessert another time.