Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: TETE Charcuterie

Tete Charcuterie

This year, my approach with Restaurant Week was to mostly visit restaurants I know and enjoy, along with one restaurant I’ve been wanting to visit for ages (NoMi) and two new restaurants. This Randolph Street restaurant is one of the latter. The service seemed pleasant, albeit a little absent-minded and a bit slow, and the courses were attractively plated, but the food didn’t live up to my expectations.

Tete Charcuterie - Room

I passed on the charcuterie since they only offered a charcuterie board for two, so I chose the duck rillette as my first course. The two pieces of rillette are soft, and the greens with which they’re served are dressed with a vinaigrette, which adds a little acidity. There also small toast fingers that taste a bit like multigrain toast, even though they’re actually pumpernickel. Unfortunately, the rilette is not very flavorful. There’s a little sweetness from the beets, which are nicely cooked and tender, and it’s a pretty presentation, but it doesn’t stand out. This is particularly disappointing given that their focus is supposed to be charcuterie.

Duck Rillette

Duck Rillette – beet carpacio, violet mustard vinaigrette, rye crouton

For my main course, I debated between the hanger steak and the Arctic char – the steak would be tasty, as long as they executed properly, but safe; the more unique fish dish would give them a chance to really show what they can do, but there would also be a higher risk of it falling flat. I decided to go with the Arctic char to see whether they can make unusual flavor combinations work. The fish itself is beautiful – moist and meaty, with a tiny bit of crisp to the skin – and I like the sweet-tart flavor of the sour orange and its faintly bitter edge. Dishearteningly, that’s all that I liked about the dish.The salsa verde doesn’t give much flavor, although I appreciate the vibrancy of its color. The beans are a little chalky and not as creamy as I would have liked. The fennel is overly sweet, almost candied, and the olive element feels harsh: both detract from the dish. Also, the little piles of each component make it difficult to assemble a proper bite. Ultimately, the dish reminds me that unless someone can really make everything harmonize perfectly, sometimes less is more.

Arctic Char

Arctic Char – white beans, sour orange, black olive “bagna-cauda,” fennel salsa verde

TETE Charcuterie offers a single dessert option for Restaurant Week: a sticky date cake, which is served slightly warm. The taste of the cake reminds me a bit of bran; it would almost feel wholesome if it weren’t for the butterscotch sauce. Texturally, it’s a little like a gingerbread with slightly crisp edges. I like the butterscotch, although it’s a little grainy from undissolved sugar. The ping-pong ball-sized scoop of ice cream on top is creamy and has a very distinct coffee flavor that goes nicely with the rest of the dessert. The meringue wafer garnish melts into nothing.

Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Cake – butterscotch sauce, coffee ice cream

Overall, the meal is a little disappointing and not very memorable. None of the dishes are bad, but I don’t necessarily think they are worth a return trip. The duck rilette is forgettable, and while the fish is nicely cooked, I don’t think it’s part of a harmonious dish. The dessert is my favorite dish of the night, but I wouldn’t make a trip back specifically for it. I wanted to like the restaurant, and perhaps it’s just a matter of the dishes I ordered, but TETE Charcuterie didn’t live up to its potential.

Tete Charcuterie - Knick knacks

Restroom Report: TETE Charcuterie has single-room gendered restrooms (decorated with various pigs and other knickknacks, which is a fun touch).

TETE Charcuterie – 1114 W. Randolph St., Chicago


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