Innovative. Artistic. Thought-provoking. Surreal. Entertaining.
All words used to describe Chef Homaro Cantu’s Moto Restaurant, a Michelin-starred restaurant and world-renowned leader in the post modern gastronomy movement. Equal parts chef and inventor, Cantu challenges and transcends limiting culinary conventions with Chef de Cuisine and moto partner, Chef Richard Farina. Best to expect the unexpected.
I’ve had the opportunity to dine at hundreds of restaurant around the globe, a few of which grace Michelin Guides in North America, Europe and Asia. Reflecting on my recent marathon meal at Moto Restaurant in Chicago, I couldn’t help but flash back to a similar epic feast I enjoyed in Stockholm at Frantzen Lindeberg. If you’ve never had the pleasure of indulging in a 4 hour, zillion course Michelin menu whisk yourself through both of my experiences. You’ll notice a similarity in artistic plate execution, whimsical pairings and subdued ambiance.
Maxime and I arrived at the restaurant early (one likes to be prompt for starry-eyed adventures). Our cab let us loose in an industrial neighbourhood and took us a few moments to locate the restaurants minimalist signage. From the get go it was clear that nothing but the food at Moto Restaurant would be flashy, a respect for the pretty on your plate. Popping open the door we were quickly whisked to a table in the corner of the restaurants petite dinning room. An army of sommeliers and servers silently pranced around the space wearing charcoal suits and wired earpieces which makes one feel as though they are dining at CIA headquarters. The experience is richly masculine with moto’s service soldiers working away in an understated grey and wood accented space.
A small wooden square is placed under my nose upon arrival, smelling of toasted timber and I soon discover it is a personalized woodcut menu which outlines our tasting that evening and finishes with “Moto welcomes Andrew Dobson.” A wee paper menu entitled Progression is placed at the corner of the table moments later, featuring a list of eleven wines we will be sipping.
Dinner at moto is a thought provoking one, drawn out with wee morsels over a four hour seating that leave guests satisifed but not overwhelmed. The moto dining room in many ways is a theatre where pomp and panache are routinely expressed through a parade of mysterious plates. One can’t help but reference their menu throughout the meal, guessing what will arrive at the table next. Eyebrow raising items include: Salmon Snow, Which Came First? (the chicken or the egg), Fallen Log, Sus Scrofa and Shades of Red.
Our vino sloshed Michelin marathon finishes with a most memorable moment: in tandem loose leaf tea bubbles in beaker while a homage to summertime smores allow guests to roast their own marshmallows as a flaming log ingnites at the table. A flicker of light flashes on the face across from you. One can most certainly catch a quick glimpse of child like wonderment on smug mug.
j.k. carriere. GLASS, willamette valley, usa, 2013
cantine buglioni, LO SPUDORATO, valpolicella, Italy 2012
domaine vigneau-chevreau, petillant vouvray, demi-sec nv
joh.jos.prum, wehlener sonnenuhr, riesling kabinett, mosel germany 2011
lustau, ESCUADRILLA, rare amontillado sherry, jerez, spain
sainte croix, POURBOIRE NATURE, corbieres, france 2012
turner pageot, 48H, languedoc, france 2012
chene bleu, HELOISE, rhone, france 2007
francuska vinarija, OBECANJE, rodljevo, serbia, 2009
garcia & schwaderer, FACUNDO, chile 2010
lustau, EAST INDIA SOLERA, sherry, pedro ximenez, jerez spain
Flavours of the Ocean
Which Came First?
Blueberries and Cream
Shades of Red