Having worked in the south end of Chicago’s Loop for quite some time, I often walk past the W Chicago – City Center hotel. While I have noticed the sign for IPO hanging outside, it was not until recently that I actually made it inside.
Not only does IPO have an upscale and lively bar, with expert mixologists and DJs spinning tunes, but with the recent addition of Executive Chef Fernando Coppola, it also has an outstanding restaurant.
Chef Coppola brings more than fifteen years of culinary experience to IPO, from some of the most highly regarded kitchens all over the world, including Argentina, Qatar, Puerto Rico & Uruguay. Chef Coppola gravitates towards simple, unadulterated flavors, and his menu showcases his love for seafood, in-season ingredients, global flavors, and organic produce.
IPO features fresh seasonal ingredients selected weekly from the local farmers’ markets, as well as from the hotel’s own rooftop garden. Chef Coppola grows fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and basil, as well as chili peppers and tomatoes right on property. You cannot get much more local than that.
Chef Coppola recently unveiled his new menu, and I attended a tasting with my fellow bloggers from Windy City Blogger Collective.
Before we sat for dinner, the W Chicago – City Center’s resident mixologist, Lauren Parton, gave us a lesson in mixology, and crafted some creative and tasty cocktails for us to try in the Living Room Bar, including one involving poblano peppers, green chartreuse, and smoked mint leaves, and another which included Johnny Walker Black, Domaine de Canton, honey, and cardamom. I would call this an excellent start to the evening.
To go along with our cocktails, and to tide us over until dinner, we also noshed on deliciously seasoned shrimp and juicy black angus and foie gras sliders.
Once we sat for dinner, I ordered the Lemongrass Drop, made with vodka, St. Germain, lemongrass syrup, fresh lemon, pineapple, and mint. It was refreshing without being too sweet.
By now, my palate was primed and I was ready to sample Chef Coppola’s seasonal creations. We began with a lustrous hamachi crudo, featuring crisp vegetables, avocado puree, and frisee. The hamachi was incredibly delicate and delicious and rivaled that of any great sushi restaurant, the vegetables gave the dish some crunch, and the addition of the avocado puree lent just enough substance to the otherwise very light dish.
Next, we enjoyed an arugula salad, with perfectly cooked cannellini beans al ajilo, or, with garlic, which was drizzled with a tasty xerez, or Sherry, vinaigrette. The option to add chorizo to this salad is available, but I enjoyed mine vegetarian.
Our third course was a wonderful farro risotto, prepared with roasted kabocha squash, wild mushrooms, and heirloom carrots. This dish perfectly represented Chef Coppola’s passion for cooking with fresh, seasonal vegetables. The mushrooms melted in my mouth and the farro was a nice, healthy alternative to arborio rice typically used in risottos.
One of my favorite courses of the night was the Maine lobster ravioli, served with a cognac cream sauce. Chunks of fresh lobster burst from the tender pasta, and sat atop it, as well. The sauce lent the perfect amount of flavor and depth, without being too rich or creamy. I highly recommend this dish.
Another favorite was the Chilean sea bass confit, with saffron orzo, blistered tomatoes, and a caldo gallego mousse, which is based upon a traditional Spanish soup. The saffron orzo literally tasted like the best macaroni and cheese you have ever tried, even though it featured no dairy, and the sea bass was perfectly cooked and tender.
Chef Coppola saved the best for last, though, with one of the most interesting and creative desserts I have ever tried. His Patagonia featured candied mushrooms, Argentinian chocolate, berries, and ice cream. It was exquisite and I savored every last bite. Who knew that savory mushrooms could work so well in a sweet dessert? I guess everything does go well with chocolate!
Everything about our experience at IPO was wonderful, from the drinks, to the food, to the service, to the hospitality. The staff at IPO went out of its way to accommodate all of the diners’ dietary restrictions and allergies, and delivered an excellent meal. IPO is perfect for business lunches, after work drinks and bites, or for a delicious dinner for hotel guests, local workers, and foodies alike. IPO is open for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
IPO is truly a hidden gem in the bustling Chicago Loop.
172 West Adams Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603
While my meal was complimentary, all opinions expressed herein are my own.