The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Restaurant Week Review: BOKA

By Minna A in Food on Feb 25, 2011 8:00PM

Restaurant week may be winding down, but it’s not over yet! Restaurant week runs until Sunday, Feb. 27, leaving you plenty of time to squeeze in a reservation or two. Still trying to decide which menu to take on? If you prefer to take part in the fancy and fashionable dining experience scene, with perhaps a slightly less exciting meal, make a date with BOKA.

If pretty presentation and dainty bites of bits are your preference, make a visit to BOKA, conveniently located near public transportation (and shopping!) and offering an elaborate and sophisticated menu by executive chef and partner Giuseppe Tentori. The combination of locale, famous chef and recent addition of a Michelin star makes BOKA a trendy choice.

The Menu: The restaurant week dinner menu at BOKA is priced at $33, and you’ll get to sample bits of all their regular menu favorites. We suggest ordering at least one dish a la carte, since we were a bit unimpressed with the R-week offerings. The first course options, although beautifully plated, lacked a certain excitement: the scallops promising broccoli and onion flavors were so mild, they we’re forgettable; the promise of “crisp chicken thigh” delivered on crisp, but lacked in kick.

The second course proved that looks can be deceiving: the angus tenderloin may have appeared to be full of smokey, grilled meat gusto but, again, was sparse in flavor. The braised pork belly dish appeared at the table looking like a handful of food-colored, lego-sized squares but brought the most surprising flavor elements, with each added piece (whether the oyster, spicy bok choy, or green soba noodles) balancing the others out for perfectly seasoned bites.

The dessert portion was the highlight of the meal, with a rich chocolate dish, contrasted with sharp tastes of tangy ginger kulfi, toasted marshmallow and citrusy tangerine. These made for an interesting plate of balanced sweetness.

The Atmosphere: If you’re here for the scene and aesthetics, you’ll appreciate BOKA even more for their elegant interior. No aspect of the dining experience was ignored when the space was built, with plush booths enveloping diners, while bringing wandering eyes up into the illuminated drapes of the restaurant.

Our Added Recommendation
: While the restaurant week deal is great, opt to order off-menu. We added the edamame mac and cheese, one of our favorite parts of our meal. After the wine, of course.

Final Review: A pretty place, with a famous name and a star, BOKA is, no doubt, one of Chicago's pre-eminent places to be; however, their restaurant week menu was lacking in pizazz. We recommend waiting for another day, and ordering off the regular menu.

BOKA is located at 1729 N. Halsted. The restaurant week dinner menu is $33, or $44 for the additional foie gras supplement.