Remember downtown’s Le Ka restaurant at the corner of 6th and Flower Streets? Well, few others do either, which is why Le Ka was recently put out to restaurant pasture by the M2K Group and replaced with SPEAR, a steak and seafood concept. Chef Greg Paul spent some time behind the Le Ka grills, and now has the opportunity to fix a few of what he saw as the old restaurant’s shortcomings. His answer is a menu that includes, along with classic steaks and chops, a hit list of today’s menu must-haves. Here are four:
Uni Toast: This is pretty much a restaurant requisite these days. Here, house made brioche topped with St. Andre triple crème cheese, toasted nori seaweed, and tranches of fresh uni. This starter is a perfect example of you can never be too rich (forget about thin).
Snow Crab Beignets: Sweet beignet dough gets wrapped around a mash of snow crab, mascarpone cheese, chives, and garlic confit. It’s fried then seasoned with roasted garlic oil and sea salt and dusted with powderized bacon fat (masquerading as powdered sugar). “I had a desire to do something different, rich, and unctuous with crab,” says chef Paul. “Lump crab popovers with whipped lobster butter and sea salt was the first incarnation, but it just wasn’t enticing enough.” Snow Crab + Beignet = Enticing.
Barbecue Pork Belly and Shrimp: Niman Ranch pork belly penetrated with barbecue rub, cooked sous vide for 12 hours, glazed with maple mustard and seared on a plancha. It’s teamed with grilled white shrimp marinated in a Carolina-style vinegar and grain mustard BBQ sauce, on top of a white bean and bacon puree.
Tomahawk Pork Chop with Bone Marrow: I almost never order the pork chop at restaurants. It usually disappoints. But Spear’s 22 oz. double tomahawk cut of Niman Ranch pork is marinated in a Vietnamese style BBQ sauce (fish sauce, soy sauce, onion, chili, lemongrass, basil, garlic), then cooked sous vide for 12 hours. Chops are cooked to medium, then finished on the grill. Bonus: Roasted bone marrow is included for slathering all over the meat like prairie butter.
SPEAR, 800 W. 6th St., Ste. 100, Downtown, 213-688-3000