Tru's spring dishes [Photo: Anthony Robert LaPenna]
We're beginning to understand why the Tribune named Anthony Martin the chef of the year. The 30-year-old up-and-comer is breathing new life into Tru. While the restaurant, which opened in 1999, still sits among the best fine-dining spots in the city, it has seen a bit of a wane in popularity in the last few years. With Martin at the helm, that seems to be changing.
During his write up, Trib food critic Phil Vettel said that Martin, "crafts plates so visually stunning that it seems crude to disturb their perfection for something so prosaic as eating." After previewing his new spring menu, we couldn't agree more.
Even though many restaurants have struggled to get a real bounty of spring vegetables, Martin was able to source a variety of ingredients, including English peas, fiddleheads, green garlic, ramps, sorrel, morel mushrooms and more, from Stitch farm in Wisconsin and The Chef's Garden in Ohio. His new spring menu incorporates all of these alongside other decadent items like "suspended" foie gras, crispy veal sweetbreads, rabbit loin, duroc pork belly and Scottish salmon.
And the presentations are truly breathtaking. Martin's English pea soup has such delicate finesse with its placement of pea shoots, frozen pea puree reshaped to form a pea, lavender marshmallow that's been frozen in liquid nitrogen and shattered, applewood smoked bacon, silver leaf and brioche croutons that all meld together when the hot pea soup is poured into the dish. And the rabbit loin is one of those dishes you truly don't want to disturb. The array of color sprouting from micro carrots, lavender sprigs, oven-dried tomatoes, Niçoise olives, meyer lemon, artichokes and fava shoots truly creates a work of art.
Some dishes, like the Scottish salmon with a dollop of smoked cream, retain their simplicity yet pop when placed atop gorgeous hand-blown, hand-painted green and turquoise glass plates with gold leaf that came from Turkey.
While Tru's founding chefs Gale Gand and Rick Tramonto wowed diners with their erstwhile groundbreaking caviar staircase, Martin is going in a new direction and adding a burst of youth while maintaining a level of sophistication.