Restaurant Week: Terzo Piano

"The place is like a museum. It's very beautiful and very cold, and you're not allowed to touch anything."

The place is a museum.  It is very beautiful, but warms up a bit after a glass of wine.  The Art Institute's Modern Wing houses Terzo Piano, helmed by acclaimed Spiaggia Chef Tony Mantuano.  Afternoon sunlight pours in the dining room through a bank of western-facing windows.  Some sparse colorful elements pepper the room: vases and urns in the center and a green wool rug in the waiting area topped with black leather Mies van der Rohe furniture.  The room is mostly white, wood, and light.  In this minimalist setting, the food needs only to compete with awesome views of the city.

My lunch date Katherine and I finally managed to coordinate our schedules and I knew this was the spot.  She appreciates the design elements of any good looking room and shares my love of the Modern Wing. We had both neglected this restaurant, probably because we're rarely out to lunch downtown.  Terzo Piano has lunch daily, but only serves dinner on Thursdays when the museum also offers free admission from 5 - 8 pm.  Restaurant Week is a perfect opportunity to try out someplace pricey, new, or outside of your neighborhood routine because the risk is relatively small.  For three courses at lunch you spend a mere $22.

We looked over the standard lunch menu, but settled quickly on the restaurant week selections:
  • Nichol's Farm potato and parsnip soup
  • Butternut squash filled ravioli with house made Becker Lane sage sausage, caramelized cipollini onions and Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese
  • Chocolate semi-freddo with spanish peanut nougat and salted caramel 
Based on current prices, we saved $11 from the everyday cost of the menu items.  I promptly spent those savings on a generously poured glass of Zinfandel "East Bench" highly recommended by our server who noted it will not appear on the menu until later this weekend.  Besides the superb wine pairing, our service was attentive and polite, but not at all stuffy.

I loved the handmade butternut squash filled pasta with sage and brown butter at Cafe Spiaggia.  The version at Terzo Piano suffers only slightly in comparison.  The pasta dough was not rolled out as thinly resulting in dense pockets of pasta rather than the light and pillowy texture that I know possible.  Each ravioli was also on the small side, though the overall dish was sizable for a lunch portion.  The addition of the salty sage sausage to dress the pasta did balance the sweet squash and caramelized onions more than the delicate brown butter I had before..

The semi-freddo was perfect: salty, sweet, smooth, crunchy, rich, chocolate.  Great company and food.  Eating lunch at Terzo Piano will make you feel like a grown-up.  Even if you talk more loudly than any of the other ladies who lunch.

It was quiet, a bit too quiet for boisterous friends catching up over drinks and lunch. Might I suggest BTTB, the 1999 album by Ryuichi Sakamoto, as a nice future soundtrack?

1 comment:

Back Garage said...

We dropped one too many f-bombs during the course of our meal -- but I have to say, and I think I said while we were eating, that Terzo is that restaurant the 7-year-old me always imagined the 30-year-old me eating at. So I feel like I was fulfilling some sort of prophecy (albeit without all the other details like, "I can't really afford to eat here it's not restaurant week.") Also -- that dessert was like a delicious melted Heath bar. I still crave it. And I'm not the biggest fan of sweets.