Ruxbin is a small BYOB spot in West Town, helmed by chef Edward Kim, who prepares (according to the website) "American comfort punctuated with Kim’s Chicago-born, Le Cordon Bleu trained, Korean American palate." The decor of the restaurant is truly unique, as it all has been "Refurbished, Repurposed, and Reclaimed." The recycled nature of the materials in the restaurant show all the thought that has gone into making Ruxbin special. The coolest part may have been the bathroom door, which is actually a dark room door, but feels like a portal into a space ship.
Crudo: Oysters, Three Ways
I started with their crudo of the day, which was oysters three ways. The oyster on the left was topped with apple cucumber mignonette, the one in the middle was "Asian-style," and then the oyster on the right was lightly smoked under the glass and topped with a bit of pork belly. All three were delicious and fresh, with interesting flavors. A great start.
The pork belly appetizer was served with cornbread, jicama, grapefruit, Danablue cheese and a citrus vinaigrette. This was absolutely PERFECT. The pork belly melted in your mouth without being strangely chewy or sinewy, and the fattiness was countered well with the lighter fruit flavors. The whole table loved this, even my Mom who usually doesn't like pork belly- something we definitely don't have in common!
Apple & Plum Salad
What could have been an unexciting arugula salad was amped up by the amazing walnut-sherry vinaigrette it was doused in. Mixed into the salad was shaved celery, almonds, manchego, apple and plum, and overall this was a light, but satisfying starter.
My least favorite appetizer was the octopus dish. The octopus itself was cooked well, but the chickpeas, radish, soybeans and roasted grapes it was served with didn't really complement the flavor well. It wasn't terrible, but I wouldn't order this again.
I love duck, and this was an excellent duck dish. The duck was cooked perfectly and was nice and juicy, and all the savory flavors brought each other out well. If you're a fan of duck, this entree is a great choice!
This maple-soy glazed black cod filet was a great Asian-influenced dish. The fish was flaky and tender, with great umami flavors. Another hit.
This was everyone's least favorite dish. Agnolotti was served with squash, ricotta, green lentils, vegetables, pear, and orange marmalade with a poached egg on top, and then pisou (a sauce made with garlic, basil and olive oil according to wikipedia) was poured into the dish tableside. The dish was prettier to look at, but fairly bland and none of the flavors really popped.
Birthday dessert- and what a pretty dessert to make my birthday wishes with! This was Ruxbin's interpretation of "rocky road," and included brownies, smoked cherries, whiskey ice cream, almonds, marshmallow fluff, cotton candy and creme fraiche caramel. There was a lot going on, but it was a fun and delicious sweet treat to end the night. Happy birthday to me!
Service all night was spot on, with friendly servers who were willing to spend time with us and joke around a bit. The food was tasty and creative without resorting to gimmicks, and we kept the wine flowing from the bottles we brought. Atmosphere, food and family all came together to make for a great birthday meal. Ruxbin is a great, unique yet relaxed spot for any type of mood. I'll definitely be back.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.