Everyone finds their weak spot at some point. It happens to the best of us. Even the heel of Achilles was eventually discovered, leading to his downfall. My weak spot has long been whiskey. Then, while in Chicago, I discovered Longman & Eagle, the one-starred Michelin-rated restaurant offering more than 148 whiskeys. With a tagline like “Eat, sleep, whiskey,” I knew I had found my Achilles’ Heel.
Longman & Eagle is part bar, part restaurant and part hotel. Among the 148 varieties of whiskey is everything from familiar to exotic (including a Willett bourbon bottled exclusively for the restaurant), with 38 available for only $3/shot. Whiskey flights and pairings grace the drink menu, along with an extensive list of cocktails, beers and wine. The food side takes a farm-to-table, nose-to-tail approach on regional American cuisine with a seasonally evolving menu.
The problem with Longman & Eagle is that it’s not one of those “hidden gem” places. Everyone has heard of it. In fact, a handful of people in Salt Lake City recommended it, knowing my whiskey weakness. (Thanks guys!) But they don’t take reservations so wait times are notoriously long.
Meagan and I planned to go on Monday night, hoping it would be less crowded, still knowing we’d have to wait awhile for a table. But as the gods would have it, we walked in, requested a table and were seated immediately. That has to be some sort of miracle.
The restaurant is dark and seating is semi communal, leaning more toward a bar-like atmosphere than that of a restaurant. It didn’t bother me but the “dark, gloomy and noisy” mood prompted L&E’s most famous Yelp review, which they proudly turned into a postcard.
Being overwhelmed by the endless whiskey list inspired me to order the “It’s All About the Barrel” whiskey flight ($14), one of several available. The flight follows a bourbon’s journey through the different stages of aging, starting with a non-aged Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash, a 4-year Benchmark and an Eagle Rare 10-year. (The 10-year was the best.) We also dabbled in the cocktail list, trying the Old Fashioned (amazing) and the Campari-based Pony Truss, an ode to my recent cocktail judging event, and Four Roses on the rocks since it’s not sold in Utah.
The amouse bouche was a warm apple soup with compressed apple chunks, a lightly sweet and cinnamony shot with crunchy bits mixed in. It was refreshing, but better when paired with a smokey whiskey.
The menu is categorized by bar snacks, which are bites like olives ($4), pretzel ($5), cheese gougeres ($7) and paté ($9); small plates of bone marrow and bacon shallot jam ($11), fôie grás with bacon crumble and cheddar ($21) and confit of octopus and beef tendon ($14); and large entrees like monkfish osso buco with whiskey bearnaise ($29) and wild boar sloppy joe with pickled jalapeño ($14).
We took the small plates/share everything approach, starting with Seared Scallop & Truffled Braised Pork Cheek ($16) with lentils, corn and squash in a pan jus. It was a party of my favorite things on one plate and everything played together nicely. The flavors all spoke for themselves, without being overpowered by anything else.
Alongside the scallops we had Blue Crab Ravioli ($16) topped with black truffles, soy beans, lobster mushrooms and tomato consommé. Light but flavorful, this was the better of our two small plates.
From the entree side we picked the Skuna Bay Salmon ($27) with Brandade ravioli, milk poached salsify, porcini ragout and a red wine veal reduction. While this was delicious, nothing about it stood out as spectacular, especially after liking the blue crab ravioli so much. It wasn’t a disappointment, just anticlimactic.
We ordered two desserts to share because all of them looked amazing. The Pistachio Waffle ($9) was served with peach pie ice cream, praline pistachio, compressed plum and a blob of honey marshmallow. It was mind blowing; I will dream about it forever. The waffle was subtly sweet with intense pistachio flavors.
Alongside it we had the Pralined Pecan Terrine ($9) with caramel and bourbon, espresso, honey foam, chocolate, malted ice cream and bourbon panna cotta. Yeah, that was amazing too, with some fun contrasts of textures.
Longman & Eagle hit my weak spot with whiskey, then further drove the dagger with its amazing food, especially the desserts. Rumor has it that brunch is fantastic, too, so I’m putting that on my list for my next trip to Chicago.
Go to Longman & Eagle for :: a casual meal with creative ingredients allowed to speak for themselves, all centered around whiskey. Whatever you do, don’t skip dessert. Notes :: They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait. If you want to emphasize whiskey rather than food, head to the OSB (offsite bar) behind the restaurant that only serves quick bites. Follow L&E on twitter and instagram or friend them on facebook.