Tuesday, February 2

Hubbard Inn

River North Dinner
Hubbard Inn
While River North European-inspired restaurant, Hubbard Inn, is not new to the Chicago dining scene (they've been around since 2011), they've made some improvements to their menu that made me want to check them out. I'd been to Hubbard Inn for brunch and happy hour, but never for dinner.

The BF and I stopped in on a weeknight when the place was buzzing with the post-work happy hour crowd taking advantage of their raw bar specials including $1 oysters and $2 lobster or shrimp cocktail.

We both ordered glasses of wine, but they also have a lengthy list of house and classic cocktails, as well as draft and bottled beers. The food menu is pretty huge, so I suggest having a game plan. We decided to split several starters and then move into entrees and a dessert. Our starters included the daily cheese plate with blue, cow's milk, and cheddar cheeses. For $18, one would expect much more cheese and not just three tiny chunks. There were more accompaniments (honeycomb, nuts, jams, bread, grapes) than cheese. The second starter, a shaved Brussels sprout Caesar salad performed better. What it lacked in originality it made up for in flavor. The tempura-fried anchovies on top are not for the faint of heart.

River North Dinner
Cheese Plate
River North Dinner
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
Our third starter was my favorite dish of the night, the chickpea crepe. This is one of Hubbard Inn's menu staples since it opened and certainly not a dish I would have ordered based on the description. The chickpea crepe has more of a light pancake consistency and is filled with roasted cauliflower, spinach, harissa, brown lentils, roasted tomatoes, and is topped with yogurt, and cucumber salad. The flavor is intense in a good way and I loved the lemon-dressed salad which added a refreshing punch.

River North Dinner
Chickpea Crepe
Our final appetizer was the seared scallops with pumpkin puree, fried sage, and hazelnut brown butter. This dish is pricey at $18 for two scallops. Yes, they are huge scallops, but still. Not sure that really justifies the price point. The scallops were cooked well and the flavors worked together, but there was a lot going on on the plate, which seemed to be a central theme of the night.

Seared Scallops
For our main courses, we split the grilled salmon steak with wild mushroom risotto, rapini, and saffron-toasted chili foam, and the whiskey-braised short rib with toasted spaghetti squash, Parmesan, and a toasted walnut sweet and sour sauce. First, the salmon. We enjoyed the choice of a salmon steak vs. a filet as it was meatier and more substantial. The risotto was delicious  but the wetness of the foam, risotto, and oil from the fish made everything sort of morph together. 

River North Dinner
Grilled Salmon Steak
The short rib was fork-tender, and I enjoyed the acidic contrast of the walnut sweet and sour sauce. The spaghetti squash was so buttery one might mistake it for a different starch. The dish had great flavors, but was very saucy, resulting in overly-saturated everything. 

River North Dinner
Whiskey Braised Short Rib
I was intrigued by the dessert menu option of a take on a Rice Krispie Treat. Hubbard Inn's version featured puffed wild rice, topped with dark chocolate, marshmallow brulee, and pumpkin mousse. The wild rice added a more savory flavor than the standard childhood treat that I can't say I enjoyed. The hard texture when biting into it also wasn't something I expected.

River North Chicago
Puffed Wild Rice Krispie Treat
My overall opinion of the dinner menu items I tried is that less is more, (unless you're talking about that cheese plate). I felt some of the dishes were trying to accomplish too many flavors or textures, resulting in a sloppy appearance on the plate and too much blending of dish elements. While some components were well-executed (chickpea pancake, short rib), I think there is room for improvement and simplicity.

Note: my meal at Hubbard Inn was complimentary; however, all opinions expressed are my own.

Hubbard Inn
110 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
312.222.1331
Hubbard Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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