Setting a Higher Standard At Bakersfield
Since opening in Westmont in late 2011 Standard Market has made a name for itself with the quality of its produce, meats, wines, cheeses, prepared items, and pretty much everything else it stocks and/or creates. It should come as no surprise, then, that its sister restaurant also excels.
Bakersfield is located across busy Ogden Avenue from its slightly older sibling. It's a clever concept: the restaurant's menu showcases the fresh seafood, seasonal produce, and quality meats featured at the market, but it's much more than an invitation to shop. With its open kitchen, wood fired grill, glass-walled wine room, and staff whose resumes are stacked with experience, Bakersfield stands on its own as a destination restaurant.
In fact, Bakersfield, 330 E Ogden Ave, Westmont, was the destination for our last Chef's Table and our guests ran the gamut from urban to suburban. While the weather was less than delightful the coach entrance and complimentary valet kept everyone dry as they hopped from car door to restaurant door in anticipation of our land and sea dinner.
As we settled into our seats around the wine room Abby and Mike offered everyone a Third Coast Cocktail. This cocktail features Chicago's own North Shore Vodka, Fruit Lab Organic Hibiscus, Santomè Prosecco, and fresh lime juice. It was refreshing and a perfect introduction to our first course.
We began our five-course dinner with a Colossal Lump Crab Cake served with a salad of avocado and grapefruit over mixed greens with a citrus vinaigrette. There was also fresh corn and cherry tomatoes. I don't like grapefruit - and I loved this! The crab cake itself had very little breading, and inside the crusty exterior were large pieces of crab like you'd expect to see in a crab cocktail. I suppose that's why they call it "colossal".
After the salad they gave us a Knuckle Sandwich. This was a one-two punch of sweet (and I do mean sweet!) Maine lobster mixed with coleslaw and arugula stuffed inside crusty Texas toast. As with the crab cake, there was no hunting and pecking to find the seafood. Large chunks of the succulent shellfish were in every bite. The savory toast was a great complement, and Manager Sam told us they tried multiple types of buns and breads before landing on this pairing.
The sandwich was accompanied by fries, but these weren't just any fries. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, one table was so excited about them Mike brought them a surprise round during our next course, and they continued talking about these fries even after dessert!
Our third course brought us to dry land with Knife and Fork Fried Chicken. As all good fried chicken is, theirs is soaked in buttermilk. Because they start with a "FreeBird" chicken it ends up on the plate both juicy and flavorful. After breading and frying they drizzle jalapeno butter sauce over the top, hence the knife and fork. It's then served with whipped potatoes and cornbread croutons. Mmmm mmmm good.
The first three courses were paired with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. "The Supernatural" cut right through the richness of the seafood, the whipped potatoes, and that crispy skin on the chicken. Paired with our next course was a red blend from The Seventy Five Wine Company out of California. It's smooth and jammy and could be enjoyed on its own, or as we found out, paired with a nice cut of meat.
That cut of meat was a Cajun Ribeye. A dry-rubbed 72 hour Cajun Ribeye. A cut-with-your-fork Cajun Ribeye. I worked in steakhouses for ten years and not once have I had a ribeye I could cut with a fork. Despite its tenderness it still had all of the flavor and the texture you expect, and the cajun spice enhanced instead of overwhelmed. The ribeye was served with a nice accompaniment of chilled couscous and wild rice mixed with corn, herbs, and dried fruit.
How do you end a meal that's so replete with rich, hearty, and flavorful food? With Fried Oreos! The cookie was dipped in pancake batter, deep fried, and then drizzled with chocolate syrup and served with vanilla bean ice cream. A perfect finish to a perfectly delightful dinner.
If you live in the western suburbs of Chicago, lucky you. If not, Bakersfield is worth the trip. Stop by on Tuesdays for their Tuesday Tastings, a $10 tasting that includes six samples of wine, beer or cocktails and an array of appetizers and Wednesdays feature half-price bottles of wine. They're also participating in Chicago Restaurant Week, and have a great menu lined up for Valentine's Day!