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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



SAVOR Peruvian spot Tanta; fundraiser for The Evolved Network
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 2170 times since Thu Mar 9, 2023
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One of the best things about Chicago cuisine is that you can travel the world without ever leaving the Windy City.

The River North spot Tanta (118 W. Grand Ave.; ) embodies one such example. Tanta offers Peruvian cuisine, and the menu—conceived by famed chef/Peruvian food ambassador Gaston Acurio and updated by Peruvian native/Executive Chef Roberto Rocha—offers a melange of dishes that reflect influences from indigenous, Asian and African cultures.

Most of the dishes are meant to be shared and, for two people, a great dinner should consist of three appetizers and two entrees (according to our helpful server, Pablo—a Chilean who might give you faint Marlon Brando vibes).

Among the apps are dishes appropriately grouped under "piqueos," or snacks. Among them are papitas Tanta, roasted fingerlings with huancaina sauce, black olives, queso fresco and quail egg; and bachiche, a healthful mix of quinoa, frisbee, grape tomatoes, burrata and beet coulis with sweet basil vinaigrette and balsamic reduction.

"Antichuchos" are described on the menu as "grilled skewers from the streets of Lima." The salmon skewers (with potatoes, Peruvian corn and microcilantro) were absolutely divine although, reflecting the aforementioned African influences, there's a skewer that contains veal heart that I would've tried had my dining companion not balked. ("I just couldn't," she said.)

Then there are the ceviches (called cebiches here). The national dish is the classic version with seasonal fish, evaporated milk, choclo, sweet potatoes, cancha (corn nuts), cilantro and onions; however, other variations are available, including a Nikkei option that has tuna, avocado, cucumber, sesame seeds, nori and daikon. Again, reflecting the Asian influence, nigiri is also on the menu (featuring wagyu beef skirt and salmon belly).

And there are even more appetizers, this time in the form of very large empanadas. We tried the empanadas de pollo (chicken) and could've eaten these all night long, especially with the accompaniment of aji amarillo and rocoto cream, providing the slightest of kicks. In addition, there are offerings that are strictly for vegetarians (again, in their own category): Items include Peruvian corn cakes, wok-stir-fried quinoa, broccolini and veggie Aeropuerto—beech mushrooms, bell peppers, scallions, nikkei sauce and a shishito omelet.

Speaking of Aeropuerto, I had the chaufa Aeropuerto for my entree—and it was absolutely wonderful. Basically, it's pork-fried rice topped with a shrimp omelet, with a little kick that the chili sauce provides. My friend also really liked her dish: arroz mariscos—stir-fried rice chock full of seafood. However, there are certainly other choices, ranging from Colorado lamb chops to Peruvian-style rotisserie Amish chicken with beef stew.

The evening concluded with a solid dessert: lucuma tres leches. It didn't look quite as enticing as what I saw in the promotional photos—but what does? However, it was quite satisfying.

It was heartening to see that Tanta has enjoying a good crowd on a Tuesday; one can only imagine what it's like on the weekends. And I imagine that the crowds will only become larger starting in May—when the 2,500-square-foot seasonal rooftop patio will open. Then, you'll be able to kick back and enjoy a refreshing pisco sour (the Peruvian national drink, made quite well here) while watching the sunset with your friends or significant other.

Note: This visit was arranged.

On Tuesday, March 14, Chefs Sebastian White and Devon Quinn will host a five-course fundraising dinner for The Evolved Network, which White founded.

The Evolved Network (TEN) "provides experiential programming through culinary and gardening equipping youth in systemically oppressed communities," according to its website.

The event will take place at 6-9 p.m. at eden, 2734 W. Roscoe Ave.

The menu will consist of snow pea leaves and white asparagus; grilled Spanish baby octopus; pan-basted diver scallops; Catalpa Groves rack of lamb; and coconut cake.

Tickets are $150 each; see .

This article shared 2170 times since Thu Mar 9, 2023
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