Bienvenue to Chef Dominique Tougne's restaurant and home of away from home: Chez Moi ( or "my home" ). Chez Moi is a French bistro created out of Tougne's vision to bring authentic food from his home in northeast France to Chicago. Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, the restaurant is easily accessible from CTA and has adjacent street parking.
This gem could be easily missed due to the subtle faÃ§ade, but once inside the staff, atmosphere and, especially, Tougne ensure that you feel welcomed. Chez Moi is rather classywhether it's a meal for two or a family outing, the experience compares to an upscale restaurant without the upscale price.
The enticing seasonal menus and the charisma of Tougne as the face of the restaurant could easily produce regulars out of first-timers. The pumpkin-infused menu single-handedly fulfilled my craving for pumpkin for the season without being too overwhelming. The pumpkin-inspired four-course dinner ran through Oct. 31 and was then replaced with a Thanksgiving menu that kept a few pumpkin dishes.
The four-course pumpkin dinner started with a soup that was served in a hollowed-out pumpkin for the appetizer. Topped with roasted seeds, it was the perfect warm-up to a great meal. Served next was pumpkin ravioli on a bed of mushrooms, which proved to be a pleasant blending of flavors.
The entrée was a filet of salmon on a bed of pumpkin puree. Again, the blending of flavors was surprisingly pleasant and I was impressed with Tougne's ability to create innovative dishes with seasonal produce. The dessertpumpkin crème bruléewas as good as it sounds and I was impressed with the seasonal spin on a traditional dish.
Never having tried escargot, Tougne ( and my dining companion ) insisted I try the dish. Chez Moi's signature escargot is served in the traditional platter topped with a puff pastry crust that resembled a croissant-like layered bread crust.
Tougne said that many regulars and even new customers at Chez Moi will request drinks or food items they would like to see on the menu andvoilaTougne will be sure to have it next time they dine there. Obtaining Crown Royal or a particular wine, or even fulfilling a special request for sweetbreads are all steps Tougne is willing to take for his clientele.
Tougne desires to have a flexible menu that reflects demand. Chez Moi offers plenty of vegetarian options and allows dish alterations to be gluten-free. The Lincoln Park restaurant also has plenty of meaty options, including steak, lamb, duck and fish.
Tougne strives to have a menu that reflects the seasons, the clientele and his home.
Chez Moi is at 2100 N. Halsted St.; visit www.chezmoichicago.com/ .