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Balsan housed in the elegant Waldorf Astoria (11 E. Walton St.) in the Gold Coast provides its guests and locals with top notch cuisine at every time of day.  Their lunch menu takes familiar items and elevates them to a sophisticated, and always delicious level that not all can achieve in Chicago.

The moment you enter the room you are greed by an extensive incredibly vibrant looking shellfish presentation with oysters, clams, lobsters, shrimp and other crustaceans all for immediate enjoyment.  There is almost always a chef on the bar preparing all of the raw bar items.

We started our meal with their Tarte Flambee, a traditional Alsatian pizza prepared with a sharp fromage blanc, creme fraiche sauce, lardon and thinly sliced onions.  Served in its traditional rectangular shape, the crust was crispy and stood up when held up.

The cheese was sharp and had excellent melting qualities.  The lardon was smoky and nice and fatty while the onions were cut paper thin and practically melted in the mouth.  I was happy to see that this staple at Balsan hadn’t changed since my departure years ago.

We ordered the burger.  Freshly ground beef cooked medium rare was served on a house made brioche bun.  Topped with a thicker sliced provolone cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and a light aioli, we crushed the burger in minutes.

It was full of flavor, from the well seasoned beef to the artisan cheese and bread, to the extra fresh often local produce, this is a sure bet when it comes to a fine burger.  Don’t be intimidated by the venue, burgers are always acceptable.

The club sandwich is something unique.  There are many ingredients in this epic club, yet it doesn’t stand as high as others.  Why?  So you can actually fit the darn thing in your mouth without injury.  Okay, ready.  Three slices of bread carefully layered with grilled chicken, smoked ham, house made salumi, avocado, hard boiled egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato and an herb mayo…phew.

You can see everything in the picture, and you can taste it all too.  This is one of the most complex yet BALANCED clubs I’ve ever tasted.  It’s worth the trip for this sandwich.

Okay, gorgeous looking dessert time.  I first present chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream – turned to up 11.

Next, goat cheesecake.  Creamy, a little funky, so elegant and full of silky finesse.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Balsan – go for the food, stay for the dessert.

I’m hungry.  Let’s eat!

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