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

First Look: Bascule Is Worth A Trip To Taylor Street For Excellent Wine And Food

By Staff in Food on Mar 6, 2015 6:30PM

Citrus hops cured salmon, salmon bacon,‏ soy, beet crisp (photo by Melissa McEwen)

At first blush the menu at Bascule (1421 W. Taylor St.) the new wine bar on Taylor Street looks average. But in these dishes there are little details that make them stand out. It’s a much-needed addition to the dining scene on Taylor Street whether you are a wine enthusiast or not.

A perfect example is the salmon, which silky and dill-flecked is good on its own. But at Bascule it is sprinkled with what they call “salmon bacon,” crispy bits of smoky salmon that add crunch as well as jolts of umami.

Seared maine scallops, parsnip, glazed baby carrots, sea urchin butter (photo by Melissa McEwen)

The excellently cooked scallops have a yellow foam and while foam has become synonymous in fine dining with “trying too hard,” here is it a buttery smooth uni billowing cloud that seasons the dish perfectly.

Whole roasted sardines, beluga lentils, capers, parsley vinaigrette (photo by Carries Laski)

The sardines are at once oceanic and earthy with their bed of caviar-like lentils and bath of bright parsley vinaigrette.

Truffle cavatappi, black truffle, cheddar cracklin (photo by Carrie Laski)

The cavatappi, though the black truffle oil addition is a little dated, is still delicious, especially with the crunchy, salty cheddar crackling garnish.

The Bordeaux (photo by Carrie Laski)

But it’s the beverage menu where Bascule gets truly creative and this creativity goes beyond just wine. It goes without saying that the wine list is well-curated and extensive, but Bascule sets itself apart from other wine bars by including wines on tap and even wine-inspired cocktails.The Bordeaux, which contains Fernet Branca, Hitachino Nest beer, black peppercorn, and vanilla will impress even the most ardent cocktail drinker and the Chardonnay with summery hints of green apple, fig, and almond is cool and refreshing.

(Photo by Carrie Laski)

On the small dessert menu are treats like the moist olive oil cake flavored with honey and lemon and topped with wine-poached cherries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The expansive space occupies what was once Urban Union, an ambitious restaurant that closed after just a year. The chef there, Michael Shrader, told DNAInfo Chicago that casual works much better in the area, but we hope he’s wrong. After all, the upscale Chez Joel has thrived there for years and Bascule is slightly more casual, a place where you could get a meal solo at the bar.

(photo by Carrie Laski)

Amidst the old-world Italian restaurants a-la-Rosebud and the quick, student-geared eateries that have taken over Taylor Street, Bascule is a refreshing addition. Whether you are a wine buff, a cocktail geek, or are just looking for some comforting yet well-executed Italian small plates, Bascule is there for you.

By Carrie Laski and Melissa McEwen