On the outside, Fulton Market Kitchen doesn’t look like much, nestled among warehouses and loading trucks, farther off the beaten path from their neighbors The Publican and Next, only a block or two away. Inside, however, is a different story entirely, as the restaurant is filled with bold colors and a rotating art collection. The menu, too, is interesting, although it perhaps not as successful as the decor.
The robiola is a very light dish – not especially memorable, but it makes for a nice beginning.Texturally, the bright white cheese is like a creamy chevre, but the taste is much milder and more milky, almost sweet, and not nearly as tangy as a typical goat cheese. It’s sprinkled with cracked black pepper, which overwhelms it a little when the pieces of peppercorn are too big, and drizzled with olive oil. Something in the pesto, possibly currants, gives the dish a bit of sweetness, as do the orange supremes.
The meatballs are small, maybe the size of a ping pong ball, and not too dense. They’re flavorful but unfortunately very salty.
The pasta in the lasagnette is not quite as delicate as I would like, nor is the meat as tender as I would like. Like the meatballs, the bolognese is a little too salty, which is particularly noticeable in the aftertaste.
The ricotta gnocchi are not especially light, but they’re not dense either. They’re also not nearly as creamy as I was expecting from ricotta gnocchi; perhaps they use a heavy hand with the flour to keep them together. Roughly a dozen gnocchi are served in a creamy sauce with bits of spinach, and none of it particularly smells or tastes of truffle. It’s comforting, but it’s a little one-note.
The four mushroom ravioli are served on a very rich sauce underneath a fairly large piece of seared foie gras. It looks decadent; unfortunately, it doesn’t taste nearly as luxurious as it looks, as the foie gras doesn’t have the gorgeous, melting texture it should have. The pasta is so delicate that the ravioli tear. The mushroom filling gives the dish umami, and the maitake mushrooms add something for texture, but ultimately, it’s somewhat forgettable.
The lobster part of the Two Tails is nicely cooked, although its sweet flavor is obscured by the rich jus. The pig tail is served as a seared cake. The crust has crispy bits, but otherwise it’s rather like pulled pork without barbecue sauce. The squash puree is a bit too sweet, and the fried parsnip chips are almost chewy and certainly not crisp enough to shatter satisfyingly. It’s an interesting concept, but the flavors just don’t go well together, at least not with this execution.
The whitefish is mild, but the flavors of the dish are nice. The fish skin is distinctly crisp around the edges, and the celery still has a good crunch. The potatoes are underdone, which keeps the dish from being anything beyond ‘good,’ but I like the precision in chopping the vegetables. The bits of bacon are delicious – smoky, porky, savory, not too salty. The sauce is prepared without a flour roux, which explains the cleaner, lighter flavor: it’s creamy, although not overly so, and has just a hint of clam flavor. I enjoyed the dish, and if the potatoes were cooked properly, I’d order it again.
Overall, I liked some of the dishes, although generally not enough for the money, and other dishes were less successful. I like the decor; the presentation is quite pretty, and I have no complaints about the service. Unfortunately, with so many better restaurants in the area at a similar price point, it just isn’t high on my list for return visits.
Fulton Market Kitchen – 311 N. Sangamon St., Chicago, IL 60607
Theatres Nearby: Given that Fulton Market Kitchen is located in the West Loop, it is a little over a mile by cab (or a few stops on the Pink or Green Lines) away the Goodman Theatre, Lyric Opera, and the main Broadway in Chicago theatres (the Cadillac Palace, the Oriental, and the Bank of America Theatres). It’s also about two miles south of the Steppenwolf Theatre (just down Halsted, the 8 bus). To the northwest about two miles down Milwaukee Avenue are the Den Theatre and the Chopin Theatre (accessible via the Blue Line, although the restaurant is located roughly half a mile away from the nearest station).