Neighborhood: West Loop
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
- Smoking Berries
- Charred Cucumbers & Stracciatella
- Kona Kampachi
- Green Garlic Torchio
- Toasted Nori Bucatini
- Alaskan Halibut
- Anson Mill’s Farro Verde
- Milk Chocolate Cheesecake
- Passion Fruit Sorbet
I had high expectations for Bellemore considering that they are part of the Boka Group and Boka is one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. Bellemore lived up to these expectations. I was able to make last minute reservations here and they were very nice and accommodating on the phone. From the second we walked in to the second we walked out, we were greeted by kind faces. The service here was excellent starting with the hosts who gave us a nice big booth to our server who was very professional to the individuals filling the water. It was impressive. It’s the type of restaurant that gives you new plates and silverware for every course without making you feel pretentious or stuffy.
Bellemore is the less traditional, let your hair out sibling of Boka. While Boka is fine-dining and more traditional, Bellemore is a little more experimental and hip with similar price-points and a similar level of refinement and deliciousness. The layout and aesthetic reminded me of Proxi, another favorite restaurant of mine that is across the street from Bellemore. I wonder if Proxi’s aesthetic influenced Bellemore’s style or if it’s a mere coincidence. The lighting was just right without it being too dimly lit but not too overly bright where you feel like you’re in a mall.
They were definitely into odd taxonomy showcasing stuffed birds and a provocative painting of a naked, masked woman. It had your typical midcentury modern vibe with white lights and antique mirrors reminiscent of Bad Hunter. Their bathroom was lovely, so please go if you have the opportunity to do so! It was a single-stall stocked with rubber bands, bobby pins, and mints with hand lotion. Our Uber ride there was terrible so going to the bathroom to chill out for a minute refreshed me for our lovely celebration dinner.
Bellemore has an enticing cocktail menu and quite an extensive wine and champagne menu. There were some cocktails that looked intriguing so we ended up ordering cocktails. Being a Mezcal lover, I ordered the Smoking Berries, which had smoky Mezcal, sherry, berry, and grapefruit. It was a refreshing drink that came with crushed ice and herbs. My dining companion ordered the Manhattan, which had bourbon, vermouth, and other notable ingredients that made it a really unique and tasty drink.
While it’s trendy to have small plates, Bellemore encourages people to share some appetizers while entrées can be individually ordered. It was refreshing to hear this since I am so used to going to restaurants that encourage us to order as many small plates as possible, which isn’t fun if you’re in a large group with different dietary needs. We ordered about 3 courses each and everything was delicious – it was definitely more than what we needed though.
We started off with the Charred Cucumbers & Stracciatella – a delicate, bright, and herbaceous appetizer. I am not that big of a fan of cucumbers but the cucumbers were charred really nicely and the stracciatella had a light and creamy consistency with hints of grilled sourdough underneath. I would have liked for there to be a bit more sourdough but the dish had many delicate flavors with grapes and basil. The broth was mild but extremely flavorful with a perfect kick of acid. It was an ideal way to start a hedonistic meal.
Another refreshing appetizer that we had was the Kona Kampachi – again delicate, herbaceous flavors with perfectly prepared Kampachi – a Hawaiian yellowtail, which was pretty much like a thicker version of ahi tuna. The Kampachi came with marinated cucumbers, Thai chiles, mint, green tomato, and mint. It came with a light buttermilk sauce that wasn’t thick and overpowering and had the perfect consistency for a delicate dish like this. Buttermilk is always a little bitter but it did not overpower the other flavors.
As we were progressing towards the heavier dishes, we decided to try some pasta. Bellemore is quite pescatarian-friendly with a few vegetarian plates. One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Green Garlic Torchio – fresh green pasta with Burgundy snails, a mushroom bolognese, parmesan breadcrumbs, lemon and basil. I loved the fact that they did a mushroom bolognese because that is pretty rare to find, especially at a high-end restaurant like this. The flavors were perfectly balanced along with the fun, crispy breadcrumbs generously sprinkled on top of the soft pasta. It was a really cozy dish – the kind you just want to binge on while it’s a crisp, fall day while watching Netflix in sweatpants. We also ordered the Toasted Nori Bucatini, which had crab that was perfectly prepared – it was creamy and buttery along with uni, lemon, butter, and chives. While I really liked the lobster and uni in this dish along with the fresh bucatini, I was not in love with the sauce. I think it could have been more flavorful but it was a good dish overall.
For the final savory dishes of the night we ordered the Alaskan Halibut and Anson Mill’s Farro Verde. The Alaskan Halibut was cooked to perfection with crispy chanterelle mushrooms, charred avocado, tatsoi, spinach, and tamarind. I liked the avocado, but it didn’t seem to blend with the rest of the dish, it felt disparate while all of the other pieces complemented one another. The flavors were very mild and I would have liked for it to be a saucier dish, but the tamarind really added a nice kick.
The other star of the night was the Farro Verde. It was an incredibly innovative and flavorful dish with lovely texture. The dish was served in a cozy wooden bowl with farro that had the consistency of a creamy risotto. The roasted maitake mushrooms gave it that perfect umami flavor with herbs and mascarpone. They also poured a really tasty broth over the dish adding to the balance of flavors. I was in love with this dish because of its herbal, rich flavor.
At this point we were stuffed, but why not do dessert? It’s a special occasion! We ordered the Milk Chocolate Cheesecake, which was not your typical cheesecake. The cheesecake was not the star and the ice cream on top was the main feature of the dish along with the candied sesame pralines for texture and raspberries. The raspberries tasted very fresh and I loved the dried chocolate on top. Since it was a special occasion they also gave us a complimentary passion fruit sorbet, which was a refreshing end to a delightful meal.
The food and service here were exemplary and it’s not a pretentious restaurant. They even gave us a card to celebrate our special occasion, which I thought was cute. You do pay a lot of money to come here so that’s why it’s a special occasion type of place but it’s worth the price given the high quality food and service you get. If you want more of a relaxed, fine-dining experience, Bellemore is an excellent choice – sometimes you just want a dish to yourself!