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S.K.Y. - Pilsen - Stephen Gillanders (SKY)

S.K.Y. - Pilsen - Stephen Gillanders (SKY)
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  • S.K.Y. - Pilsen - Stephen Gillanders (SKY)

    Post #1 - January 19th, 2018, 10:42 am
    Post #1 - January 19th, 2018, 10:42 am Post #1 - January 19th, 2018, 10:42 am
    Apologies if I've missed an existing thread on S.K.Y., chef Stephen Gillanders' restaurant in Pilsen. We visited for the first time yesterday to celebrate my wife's birthday, and it was excellent, with warm service and some outstanding dishes. You should go.

    First, I'd like to congratulate the chefs for serving multiple dishes with truffles which I actually enjoyed: black truffle croquettes and potatoes with truffle dip. Nothing cloying, false, or out of balance. Honestly, this felt like an achievement in itself.

    The rest of the dishes were excellent as well. Highlights were the lobster dumpling (surprisingly substantial), hamachi (beautifully cut and well-seasoned), and the branzino (notably briney, in a very good way). Sorry, no pictures.

    The restaurant boasts a former Bristol manager, and I found myself drawing approving comparisons with the old stalwart. Although the food works at a slightly different, perhaps more upscale angle, the food is easy to share and exudes both comfort and confidence. I think there is a shared personality between the two--welcoming, geared for enjoyment, but operating at a very high level--that I find extremely impressive.

    A big fan of S.K.Y. Hope others are as well.

    https://www.skyrestaurantchicago.com/

    1239 W 18th St
    Chicago, IL 60608
    312-846-1077
  • Post #2 - March 9th, 2018, 3:03 pm
    Post #2 - March 9th, 2018, 3:03 pm Post #2 - March 9th, 2018, 3:03 pm
    Four of us had dinner at S.K.Y. last night, and OH MY GOD was this a wonderful meal, with one standout dish after another, all hits and no misses! (Disclaimer: I am a FOTH, and a couple of small dishes were comped.) Without further ado...

    I'll start with a warning. As far as I could tell, there is no exterior signage for the restaurant. So look for this long white building on the south side of 18th Street, just across the street (to the west) of Dusek's / Thalia Hall:
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    The dining room is long and narrow, with brick walls and an open kitchen at the far end.
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    Chef Gillanders at work.
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    The room was full when we arrived at 7:15. The noise level was somewhat loud, but not obnoxiously so; it was still reasonably conversation-friendly, as we had no trouble hearing each other. Props to the restaurant for keeping the volume of the background music very low, rather than the loud thump-a-thump music that some other places use to make it difficult for diners to converse.

    What did we have? While perusing the menu, we placed an order of...

    Cornbread Madeleines, extra virgin olive oil butter. Again, OH. MY. GOD. These were amazing, so good that we placed a second order. They tasted like rich cornbread, with a pinch of spice (red pepper?); the texture was fine like madeleines, not coarse/gritty like many cornbreads, and they had a few kernels of corn in each. These are a DO NOT MISS for any meal at S.K.Y.
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    JUNMAI NIGORI ‘Snow Maiden’, Tozai, Kinki, Japan (sake)
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    Amuse bouche. IIRC, avocado paste on rice crackers.
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    Japanese Cucumbers, garlic soy, sesame salt, chili. These were excellent!
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    Chicken & Coconut Milk Soup, kaffir lime, ginger, shiitake. This is the classic Thai soup of tom kha gai, and is one of the best renditions you'll find anywhere, including Thai restaurants. If you love tom kha gai as I do, this is a must.
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    Maine Lobster Dumplings, jade butter, soft herbs. Oh so delicious!
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    Roasted Roots Salad, grapes, blue cheese, pecans. This is one of those dishes that sound intriguing, and turn out to be way better than expected.
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    Caramelized Diver Scallops, brown butter dashi, maitake. Very good.
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    Mediterranean Seabass, pain de mie, lemon-garlic jus. This dish was absolutely divine, with its crusty breading and perfectly-cooked fish. It's tough to choose standouts when everything in a dinner is outstanding, but this was easily a standout.
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    Prime Beef Short Rib, red wine, bacon, chive spaetzle. The photo appears dark, but it's because both the short rib and the accompanying red wine reduction were very dark in color. This was terrific. The spaetzle were mild in flavor, a nice counterpoint to the short rib. (I liked the spaetzle plain, and also liked them with the reduction on them, and with the sauce from the green beans on them.)
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    Crispy Potatoes, black truffle dip (side). This was perhaps the most conventional dish on the menu, and it was absolutely superb.
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    Blistered Green Beans, Cantonese vinaigrette (side). Yum.
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    The dessert menu, which is not shown on the restaurant website, consisted of four desserts, all of which we had, plus ice cream and sorbet. All four desserts were good, but not quite as amazingly wonderful as the savory dishes.

    Banana Budino, vanilla, granola, bourbon
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    Chocolate-Whiskey Pie, coffee gelato, salted caramel
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    Cheesecake Brulee, blueberry, citrus, mango
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    Tropical Fruit Pavlova, frozen yogurt, coconut, citrus
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    When Sparrows Fly, vodka, fresh espresso, cardamom, vanilla (dessert drink)
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    The service was friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. However, the restaurant was full, and the staff seemed slammed/overworked. The pacing was leisurely, which was fine with us last night but might be offputting to some, and we had to remind our server to bring a couple of our side dishes which had seemingly been forgotten.

    The cost of the meal - $54/pp plus $20/pp alcohol plus tax/tip - made this an excellent value in addition to being so absolutely wonderful in every way. We look forward to returning again and again!
  • Post #3 - September 30th, 2018, 3:31 pm
    Post #3 - September 30th, 2018, 3:31 pm Post #3 - September 30th, 2018, 3:31 pm
    4 of us had a very nice meal here this past Friday night. With very few caveats, I thought the food was exceptional. Throughout the meal, dishes were well-conceived and expertly executed. There is some unquestionably high-level cooking happening in this kitchen. Before dinner, a neat pour of La Venenosa Sierra del Tigre -- lovingly poured by Roberto at the front bar -- was just what the occasion called for. As for the meal, I'll let the (not-so-great cellphone) images speak for themselves and throw in a few comments as warranted . . .

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    Amuse | edamame, puffed rice
    A nice, boldly-flavored palate opener

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    Hamachi Sashimi | black sesame, ponzu, puffed rice
    Firm, clean and flavorful hamachi, and a visually-appealing composition

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    Lobster & Shrimp Wrap (special)
    Rich flavors and a satisfying combination of textures.

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    Black Truffle Croquettes | aged white cheddar, jalapeno
    Crispy, piping hot and redolent of black truffle.

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    Cornbread Madeleines | extra virgin olive oil butter
    These were exceptional. Yes, they were delicious but what made them special was how moist they were.

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    Crispy Potatoes | black truffle dip
    Nothing not to love here, unless you prefer your fried potatoes flaccid.

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    Maine Lobster Dumplings | jade butter, soft herbs
    Another winning combination of flavors and textures.

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    Mediterranean Seabass | pain de mie, lemon-garlic jus
    Action shot! The pain de mie created a light and cripsy crust, which absorbed the cooking medium beautifully. The fish was moist and flaky.

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    Foie Gras Bibimbap | charred vegetables, mushroom bulgogi
    This may have been my favorite dish of the whole meal. The flavors were sensational. That said, I really wish our server had let it sit in the dolsot for a few minutes before stirring it up. It should have been allowed to develop a nurungji before being mixed. In spite of that, it was a show-stopper.

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    Organic Fried Chicken | fermented hot sauce, creamed corn
    Normally, I don't care for boneless chicken but this was as good as I imagine it gets. The bird was crispy, juicy and flavorful. The hot sauce and creamed corn were terrific, too.

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    Berkshire Pork Chop | habanero honey sauce, crushed peas
    Another perfectly cooked protein -- crusty, juicy, flavorful -- accompanied by some crushed peas that were just out of this world. I wasn't as big a fan of the habanero honey sauce.

    Desserts were fine but, imo, did not ascend to the level of the savory portion of the meal . . .

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    Banana Budino | vanilla, granola, bourbon

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    'Cookies & Cream' | chocolate variations

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    S.K.Y. Tiramisu | spiced rum, Okinawa ice cream

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    Cheddar Ice Cream
    This was actually a component in a dessert that we didn't order but we wanted to try it and the kitchen, very accommodatingly, sent it out for us.

    I wasn't surprised by how excellent our meal was but I was glad that it exceeded our high expectations. It was so wonderful that even a 40-minute trip from Logan Square in a rideshare car that reeked like an ashtray was worth it. We had an 8 pm reservation and the place was packed but we were seated right on time. It was loud but conversation at our table in the back room near the kitchen was relatively unimpeded. Service was outstanding -- friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Bottom line: I'll definitely be back. Hopefully, soon.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

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