Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MetroCeliac January Supper Club - Mas

The MetroCeliac Supper Club meets once a month at a new restaurant in Chicago. We contact restaurants and ask them if they are aware of celiac and its dietary needs and then we offer them a variety of resources to learn the ins and outs of cooking for celiacs. Our goal is to make Chicago chefs excited about learning a new skill and offering that new skill to the public at large. One day we hope that all menus will have options that are naturally celiac, and labeled that way, as well as other options that are specifically designed for us (breads, pastas and desserts, to name a few). We are trying to reach that goal one restaurant at a time...for now. After the chefs are aware of how to cook for us, we then decide what to cook for us. We set a menu, a price and a date and all the members have to do is show up ready to have a good meal and a good time. So far, it has been a wonderful success and 2006 looks to be continuing that tradition.

What a wonderful way to kick off the new year with style and a spicy flair! We chose Mas Restaurant 1670 W. Division Chicago, Illinois. The chef and the management went out of their way to learn what our restrictions are. They shared our philosophy about not focusing on what we cannot have, rather they focused on the myriad of things we CAN have. They took that concept and ran with it. Nothing bland for us here. We had an excellent crowd, evenly divided between celiacs and non-celiac friends of the group. The restaurant has an intimate charm and the various courses had an impressively stylish presentation. The flavors were unique, spicy, rich and bordering on decadent. Each dish offered something unique in flavor, texture and combination and each member of the group chose something different from each course as their favorite. Mas was a huge hit and I hope all celiacs who miss flavor and variety and a unique dining experience try this restaurant as the ultimate in celiac-friendly dining.

Mas is described by the local go-to website for Chicago socializing, Metromix, as "... a stylish eatery on the eastern fringe of Wicker Park that features ambitious Nuevo Latino cuisine. Sit with the trendy crowd in the front of the restaurant, where the picture window affords plenty of people-watching opportunities, or retreat to the more intimate dining area near the back of the restaurant, where your view will include the open kitchen." Mas restaurant, located in the heart of Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, captures the true soul of Latin culture in a contemporary environment. With its own unique style of "Nuevo Latino" cuisine, Mas is radiant with authentic flavors that reflect the mosaic of the Latin landscape. Mas offers more spirit, more soul, more vibe.

Here is the menu (read on full stomach):

Primero(family style)
mixed greens, guajillo-candied pecans, roasted garlic and cilantro vinaigrette

grilled flank steak, eggplant escabiche, spiced goat cheese, cilantro, pesto

Ceviche Del Dia

Proximo(family style)
acorn and butternut squash, wild mushrooms, truffle risotto, pumpkin seed oil

pan-roasted boneless chicken, fingerling potatoes, poblano rajas, aji amarillo sauce

chile-cured pork tenderloin, white beans, truffle scented jus

Bananas fried and covered in chocolate sauce with pistachios and cinnamon, vanilla bean ice cream

While dimly lit so that it was difficult to see what we were actually consuming, the food was wonderful, the staff attentive and so accommodating and the chef, who came out at least twice every course, was absolutely the best we could have hoped for. The whole experience is one you wish you could guarantee each and every supper club. Tanya and I consider this a spicy hot beginning of a wonderful 2006. Our thanks to Mas and to all who attended the event!

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