Herbed biscuits stand in for pie crust in this deconstructed chicken pot pie. Herbes de Provence and garlic give the American classic a French accent.
I recently had lunch at Dine, the restaurant of the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro hotel. I wasn’t there because of my food writing credentials. Marion’s sister Lena works in the travel industry. The hotel had invited her to lunch; I was her plus one.
Historically, hotel restaurants have offered safe, if less than inspired meals to weary business travelers and wary tourists afraid to play restaurant roulette in a strange city. That’s beginning to change, though. Increasingly, hotels are bringing in new chefs and inviting them to play with their food.
You won’t find culinary high wire acts in most hotel restaurants; they still have to appeal to a broad range of customers and palates. But you will find more focus on freshness, more attention to sourcing and inventive flavor combinations and presentation. What hotels are finding is that this approach can make them appealing to local diners, too.
At Dine, executive chef Erik Dybvik has created breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus of “high-style comfort food,” as the hotel website describes it. Menu elements such as onion marmalade, duck fat roasted potatoes, farro, rapini, smoked trout mousse, caramelized fennel and white bean ragout bear out that description.
The grilled ahi burger I had, served with red onion, oven roasted tomato, arugula and roasted garlic mayo, was delicious and generous. But it was Lena’s lunch that caught my attention, chef Erik’s take on chicken pot pie, served not in a crust, but on a scallion biscuit. For some time, I had been thinking about making something close to traditional chicken pot pie, but replacing the crust with a layer of drop biscuits. Chef Erik’s approach – preparing the biscuits and filling separately, then plating them together – was a revelation, not only easier to prepare, but easier (and more attractive) to serve and eat. I left our lunch with a full belly and a recipe idea to make my own.
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