Winter and Spring Join Forces for New Menu at Bar Pastoral

March 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Bar Pastoral recently updated its menu for the first time since opening, drawing inspiration from both winter and spring to offer the best of both worlds while the rest of Chicago moans about the weather. The Pastoral brand has long been a major player in the local cheese game here in Chicago, supplying numerous cheeses from throughout the Midwest at its shops, along with offering other locally sourced specialty goods. The opening of Bar Pastoral took that concept of locality to another level, utilizing these cheeses and purveyors in new ways  The Pastoral A-Team of chef Chrissy Camba, beverage director Mark Hayes, and cheesemonger Bryan Bland combined on the new menu. Local cheeses remain at the forefront, served as standalone nibbles and woven throughout composed dishes. For the latest iteration, Camba wanted to serve up a last hurrah to winter (or a good riddance) while simultaneously welcoming spring with some lighter touches. Straddling between the two seasons (spring + winter = “sprinter”?), Camba is cooking up items that she wants to eat right now, calling the dishes “comforting and not too heavy.” So this new menu is basically comparable to that coat you’re wearing now that keeps you sufficiently warm without smothering you.

Escargot tartine with fromage blanc, garlic, parsley, and pickled carrots

Housemade pretzels are newly on deck, served warm with whipped salami, a cheese ball, and mustard. The cheese ball is actually made with Widmer’s 1-year aged cheddar from Wisconsin, so get your mind out of the culinary gutter. Also new: roasted bone marrow bedecked with lemon confit, braised short ribs with curried carrot puree (the Easter bunny might like this if it was carnivorous and terrifying), and a mac ‘n’ cheese dish inspired by Camba’s childhood. “I grew up eating a tomatoey mac ‘n’ cheese, so I wanted to put that on the menu,” says Camba, who layers gemelli pasta in tomato béchamel with  two cheese, Beecher’s Flagship cheddar and an Asiago Fresco; then tops with breadcrumbs. These are all wintry comfort foods that almost make me forget about spring. But then there’s lighter fare such as arugula salad with charred eggplant puree, an escargot tartine with pickled carrots, and gnudi with mushrooms and spinach, that quickly erase that notion. Altogether, the new menu is a harmonious ode to seasonal cooking in Chicago, and a nifty example of how one chef maneuvers through the Midwest’s fickle seasons.

Braised short ribs with bacon, curried carrot puree, apples, and mustard greens

In terms of new cheeses, Camba says she loves making the fromage blanc for the escargot tartine, and she especially loves using ricotta, which she uses in the gnudi and a pear- and almond-enhanced grilled cheese, something I sorely wish I could stow in a lunchbox. Per usual, Midwestern cheeses are well represented on the menu, including Minnesota’s Bent River Camembert, Wisconsin’s Crave Bros. Petite Frere, Iowa’s Gubbeen cow’s milk cheese, and Marieke Gouda, another hit from the Dairy State (and recent winner of the US Cheese Championship!). For dessert, cheese options include Eldon sheep’s milk cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm in Illinois, and Rush Creek Reserve cow’s milk cheese from Uplands Cheese Company in Wisconsin, while cream cheese from Zingerman’s in Michigan lends itself to Camba’s lemon and cheesecake tart.

Don’t forget to get tipsy! Local beverage purveyors help fill out the beverage menu as well. Two Brothers and Central Waters Brewing each lend a brew to the beer list, while Quince & Apple provides orange-cherry syrup for a non-alcoholic Spicy Sparkler and a Quince Cup cocktail decked out Koval rye vodka, lemon juice, bitters, and Fentimann’s ginger beer.  We’re liking what they are doing with Sprinter at Bar Pastoral

Bar Pastoral
2947 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-4781