Ruxbin- The most amazing hole-in-the-wall, ever.

 

I’d been driving by Ruxbin on Ashland Ave for quite some time before I finally went.  Why oh why did I wait?  It was soooo good.  It’s one of those places where the food gets its flavor from combinations of ingredients rather than the addition of fat (like butter or bacon, as so many chefs like to do these days).  Just clean food with whacky combinations that you’d never think of but work wonderfully.

We started with the Apple and Plum Salad with baby arugula, almonds, manchego and a walnut-sherry vinaigrette.  Ok, this one wasn’t too much of  a stretch.  It was clean and bright and fresh.  Just what the doctor ordered!

 

Ruxbin Chicago

 

The calamari, on the other hand, was unlike any other calamari I’ve ever encountered.  Ever.  The bodies were stuffed with a chicken and pork forcemeat (aka sausage without the casing), and was accompanied by potato confit, Korean chili, pickled fennel, peanuts, pea tendrils and some other stuff that wasn’t listed on the menu.  A couple of sauces, for one, and some pickled cukes.  The calamari itself was tender and it’s filling, full flavored.  The rest of the components were its counterparts:  fresh tendrils, acidic fennel and cukes, spicy chilis.  So delicious.  We cleaned it up.

 

Ruxbin Chicago

 

The flatbread was fairly irresistible, as well.  I mean, just look at those colors!  In house made ricotta, shaved radishes… prosciutto… kumquats!…and fresh basil.  Gaaaawd it was good.  Salty, creamy, citrus-y, sweet.  The crust itself wasn’t anything to write home about but who cares?!  With ingredients like that, you could have asked me to lick it off the table and I would have agreed.

 

Ruxbin Chicago

 

Next was the cold Soba, which was so interesting.  It had a ton of veggies and other things I know not about, a poached egg and, coolest of all, horseradish granita.  ”What?” you say?  Yes, horseradish granita.  Next to it on the plate were a bunch of pickled goodies,  some crazy gelees, and a couple little salty sea beans.  They were there, apparently, for you to use as a palette cleanser between bites.

The broth was smoky, the ingredients bright, the noodles earthy.  A lot going on, I’d say.  Would I rush back to order this again?  Not so much.  Was I glad we tried it.  Oh yeah.  Totally weird, but in a good way.

 

Ruxbin Chicago

 

See the ice-y granita?  Cool, huh?  It lent a little horseradish spiciness as it melted into the broth.  Oh, yeah.  I forgot to mention the crunch, salty, toasty little soy beans.  They were good too.

 

Ruxbin Chicago

 

Then there was the Pork Tenderloin.  All I gotta say about that… COME TO MAMA!  Crunchy hominy and chickpeas, roasted shallots, grilled peaches, fried basil and chili-coffee salt.  Hmmm… ponder that a moment.  You can’t possibly understand how these flavors came together so amazingly.  Really.  Genius.

 

Ruxbin Chicago

 

The waitress informed us that they only had two desserts on the menu.  So we ordered one of each, naturally.  Fresh berries, homemade biscuit/shortbread and chantilly cream (aka fresh whipped cream with sugar and vanilla) and balsamic vinegar.  Ugly as hell, but sigh-worthy delicious.

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Ruxbin Chicago

 

Last was the lychee panna cotta with toasted coconut.  Also fab.  Creamy, soft, sweet, tropical, crunchy, toasty.  Yup.  These guys hit it all on the mark.

 

Ruxbin Chicago

 

I also didn’t tell you that we ordered one of their homemade sodas because it sounded so intreging.  It was.  Tamarind, vanilla, citrus and poppy seed.  Complex and a bit sweet which was balanced nicely with the citrus.  It was almost better than a boozy cocktail.  Well… almost.

The place is teensy and very rustic but hip and comfortable.  Oh!  And it’s BYO, so be forewarned!

Service was great, too!  Our server was cool and fun and knew her stuff.  Great recs and told us the truth about menu items, which I always appreciate.

I heart Ruxbin.

 

The Short Version (Out of 10)…

Food:  10

Service:  10

Ambiance:  10

Overall impression:  10

Would I go back?

Absolutely!  In fact, I’m adding this to my mental list for when people ask, “So what are your favorite places to eat?”  Ruxbin.  The answer is Ruxbin.

 

Ruxbin Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

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