Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I realize it's July, but the title here is correct.

During the past weekend's trip to central Illinois we ventured to a restaurant named June in Peoria Heights. The restaurant features organic and local products when possible and what they refer to as post modern techniques.

The restaurant is a small place tucked into a small, two level strip center. The decor is very modern with nice clean lines and a totally open kitchen. The minimal decor is perfect for the food they serve.

My starter was three small venison meatballs served over hand rolled pasta with a light garlic sauce. They were cooked medium rare, which is still a little much for venison, but in this case it worked. I also tasted two other appetizers, a hard poached egg over brioche with smoked mushrooms, and a white tuna fritter. Both were delicious.

For the second course I went with a plate of beets. This was small, roasted yellow and candy striped beets sliced very thin, and a few chunks of pickled, small red beets. They were arranged around a center of micro-greens and topped with a tangerine vinaigrette and a few small tangerine sections. Any of you who read this blog regularly know my fondness for beets as they have appeared here several times. The roasted beets were sweet and earthy and the pickled beets were properly briny. The acid in the vinaigrette picked them all up. The serving size was perfect for a salad course but I could have eaten three helpings of this dish. The only problem with this dish is that if I return to the restaurant and they aren't on the menu the evening would start with a disappointment. They were that good.

For the entree' I ordered a leg and thigh quarter from a local organic chicken. The dish was cooked sous-vide to just done and then pan seared until crisp. There were roasted baby artichokes and onions on the plate as well. The skin on the chicken was perfectly crisp, tasty and the meat was wonderfully fresh, warm and comforting. The onions and artichokes provided a piquant contrast to the chicken. I also tasted the other two entrees on the table, a beef fillet also cooked sous-vide and then rolled in dried porcini mushrooms and seared and fillets of daurade pan cooked and served over a mixture of oriental veggies with a lime based sauce. All were winners.

Dessert was simple and a perfect ending. I had a ball of fresh, white peach sorbert floating in a glass of slightly sweetened champagne. The sorbet was light, fruity and tart while the champagne provided a little sweetness and acid.

Was there wine? Of course there was wine. We drank a 2006 Castello di Farnetella Chianti Classico. Earthy aromas of tart cherries and clean dirt stood out in the nose. The body was medium with the cherries very pronounced. Tannins were moderate and the acids were quite nice and refreshing. The wine was outstanding with the chicken and the beef, and was especially good with the beets. The earthiness in Chianti is a great match with the cuisine at June. Doing a little research upon arriving home I find that Farnetella is made by one of my top favorite producers in the region, Fattori di Felsina. There are a number of bottles of Felsina wines in the cellar and I was happy to know they are involved with another good wine project.

The restaurant was a wonderful experience and definitely worth the six hour drive.

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