According to a recent scientific study, American taste buds have atrophied to the point where they no longer recognize when a scientist is feeding them parts from old VCRs. Today's Groupon re-ignites your long-dormant flavor-sensors: for $30, you get $60 worth of inventive seasonal cuisine at Bonsoirée, the fine-dining BYOB restaurant in Logan Square that made Food & Wine's 2008 list of the best dining destinations in the world. This Groupon is valid from Tuesday through Sunday (Bonsoirée is closed on Monday), and if redeemed on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, your Groupon is worth an extra $10, making it a total value of $70.
One glance at the Bonsoirée menu and it becomes clear that the chic, minimalist décor is pretty much the only thing minimalist about the place. Each dish in chef/owner Shin Thompson and chef de cuisine Luke Creagan’s "exquisitely crafted" four- ($58), seven- ($85), and 13-course ($150) flavor symphonies draws inspiration from a range of cultures and blends traditional Japanese presentation with classic French techniques. A new menu is introduced monthly, but a recent four-course line-up kicks off a night of gourmandizing with a salad of crispy Suzuki, grilled-haricot vert, and pickled ramp with lotus root drizzled in genmaicha vinaigrette and rhubarb sorbet. A fava-bean and spring-pea soup spiced with curried artichoke and green garlic then drum-rolls the curtain-raise on the meal’s centerpiece: a roast of grass-fed spring lamb from Mint Creek Farms, served with potato-and-chickpea confit, shochu Japanese–barbecue sauce, fried potato skins, smoked shimeiji mushrooms, and death mustard, a mysterious savory substance. A dessert of gingerbread ice-cream sandwich sided with ginger-cinnamon-bark ice cream and sprinkled with pecans helps quivering taste buds waft gently back down to earth. If you’re afraid that talking will destroy the food’s delicate interplay of complex flavors, you and your dining companions can entertain yourselves by watching Chef Thompson work his magic and occasionally subdue a cutlery-wielding octopus in the open kitchen window. Also, make use of Bonsoirée's new wine program: call Provenance Food and Wine, Cellar Rat, or Randolph Wine Cellars ahead of time, and get a bottle of wine delivered to Bonsoirée free of charge in advance of your reservation at no extra cost.
Since the restaurant’s humble beginnings in the apartments of Thompson and Creagan, where they hosted private gourmet dinners that often turned into public square dances, Bonsoirée has grown into a Chicago hotspot famous for innovating the city’s restaurant scene with its underground dining, an invitation-only Saturday–evening event centered on a six-course tasting menu served personally by the chef, and No Menu Sundays, which let the chef flex his creativity to its unbridled fullest using the freshest produce from Green City and Logan Square Farmer's Markets. Creagan’s playful approach to creating meals has its roots in his Wisconsin childhood, when he first cooked meals for his family. Thompson, meanwhile, was recently honored with an invitation to prepare a dinner at the culinary central station, the James Beard Foundation in New York. Any dish at Bonsoirée is bound to recalibrate your palate, revealing a vast new spectra of flavors, so reward your official taster for all those faithful years detecting poisons with a multi-course gourmet feast that might never be repeated.
Not valid on New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, or the Monday night special.
Bonsoirée has been reviewed in Centerstage Chicago, Examiner.com, and Time Out Chicago. It made Food & Wine's 2008 "Go To" list of dining destinations around the world:
- For most Chicago chefs, "fresh from the sea" means an overnight Fed Ex package from a coastal fisherman. For Chef Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree, it means the fish is still flopping.... Thompson delivers exquisitely crafted and seasonally focused fresh food at value prices, and you can even bring your own liquor to eat it... The menu is always rotating, but count on a Japanese influence in taste and plating including seared Kobe beef with garnishes served in lacquered bento boxes. – Michael Nagrant, Centerstage Chicago
- The service was impeccable, the space is minimalist yet intimate, and every dish introduced flavor and texture pairings that could only be described as delightful. Also, the night we ordered the Duck Duck Goose, we received a taste of both duck and goose foie, which is the only time I've had the opportunity to try the two side-by side, before or since. Subtle innovation like that is the hallmark of a noteworthy chef. – Emily Szopa, Examiner.com
- The most elaborate presentation begins with a deep wood box that sends a cloud of apple-wood smoke to your face when the lid is lifted. When the smoke clears, you find oblong pieces of chewy pork cheek drizzled sparingly with maple syrup, accented with a quail egg and a pillow of anise marshmallow. Think of it as a hearty American breakfast in diorama form. – Phil Vettel
- I was quite blown away... Everything was wonderfully made and the chef chatted with us at the end of the meal. I can't wait to go back! – Da J., Yelp
- I am nowhere near qualified to tell you anything about their food. That being said, it was amazing. The fish course looked and tasted amazing. – Brandon H., Yelp
- Wow. Just WOW! – Melanie S., Yelp
Learn more about Bonsoirée in the first installment of Groupon Profiles: a behind-the-scenes look at some of the great businesses featured on Groupon: