Ruxbin has closed since this story was published.
Ruxbin in Chicago has always been a favorite of ours. We first learned of Ruxbin in 2011 when they were named one of the best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit magazine. It was at the top of our list of places to go on our trip to Chicago, and since we moved to California, not a lot has changed. If anything, it’s better than we remember.
They still have their fun eclectic design that includes cookbooks like Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking and Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook displayed on the walls, and the food is as good as ever. They also have a rooftop garden that they source ingredients from.
We love that Ruxbin is BYOB. We usually cook at home so we can open great bottles of wine that we would never order at a restaurant. Here, you can bring anything you want. Since the limit is one bottle per two people, make sure it’s something that will go with a lot of things. We recommend Pinot Noir.
We were really excited to try their current menu. The format has changed slightly since we were last there. Instead of a set tasting menu, you choose five dishes for the table. There are also a few surprises along the way! It’s amazing to see what Chef Edward Kim and his team produce out of a tiny kitchen. Everything was perfect!
We started out with amuse bouche of fluke, sesame leaf, and a sauce made of tamari and Michigan figs, then epi bread with radish-parsley compound butter.
Next we had the cervena venison tataki with ginger, scallion, pickled watermelon, miso walnut, and bulgogi sauce. The venison comes from New Zealand (Chef Kim explained that it was raised “Lord of the Rings-style”) and was so delicious. It’s not something we would typically order, so we were blown away.
We were also intrigued by the Berkshire pork belly with poached Beausoleil oysters, white kimchi, and mustard, so it was a must-order as well.
Cardinal prawn and bay scallop with nebrodini mushroom, sweet potato, and magda squash were delicious and served as two dishes in one. The prawn heads are served on a platter so you can enjoy all of the flavors, nose to tail. Cardinal prawns were huge and, caught off of the coast of Spain.
Rohan duck with house made sauerkraut, macon apple, cranberry, and pomegranate duck jus was a seasonal favorite. The duck skin was perfectly crispy and the inside was perfectly tender. We talked to Chef Kim briefly and one of the things he mentioned as being critically important in cooking is understanding carryover heat (meat continues cooking after you take it off the heat source). Literally everything we tasted was perfectly cooked.
The Provitello veal cheeks with hen of the wood mushrooms, pencil keeps, and miso beurre blanc can only be described as amazingly delicious pillows of meat. They melted in your mouth, no knife needed.
We had selected the Tallegio cheesecake with tart Michigan cherries, hazelnuts, rhubarb, lemon balm, and honeycomb for the dessert course (how could you not?), but Chef Kim wanted us to try both, so he also sent out the Three Sisters Corn Cake with stone fruit, apple, white chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. Both were delicious, but our favorite was the Taleggio cheese cake. We loved the twist on the traditional flavors, and in terms of plating, it was a work of art.
Ruxbin now takes reservations, so no more watiing in line in the cold! If you live in Chicago or are visiting and have not been yet, we can’t recommend it highly enough!
Thank you to Ruxbin for partnering with us in this post!