Inside the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort, there’s a new restaurant dedicated to the kind of unique and delicious inventiveness we only usually see on the Food Network. B. Restaurant sums up their ethos very simply: B. local, B. fresh, B. seasonal. It could also be a clever nod to the beehives they maintain on the property to keep them in extremely fresh honey all year round.
B. honey is one of the first things we were introduced to upon arriving at our table. A soft, warm loaf of sourdough bread arrived on a cutting board with a ramekin of creamy whipped ricotta cheese and a ramekin of thick B. honey. This is the best possible version of a table bread offering. Each of the ingredients is nice on their own, but a slice of warm bread smeared with ricotta and the sweet, mature flavor of hive-fresh honey…incredible. We kept the last slice at the table the entire meal in case we had room for it at the end.
We were happy to arrive while there was still daylight to enjoy the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the meticulously maintained grounds and ponds of the Hilton’s 18-hole golf course. It’s a really lovely ambiance to soak in as you settle in to dinner.
The Signature B. Pot Au Feu Soup leans in to the warm, brothy simplicity of the traditional French recipe. It’s also lovely to look at, with two halves of a roasted carrot sitting crisscrossed over a split gourmet marrowbone. The rest of the ingredients are simple. Chopped carrots, celery, onions, and chunks of tender beef from Slagel Farms in Fairbury, Illinois all mingle in the broth, infusing each other with hearty comfort flavors. There’s something wonderfully striking about the bone in the dish and the salty marrow inside is lovely spread across the fresh grilled bread that accompanies the soup.
When you see one of B.’s Living Salads, you know the Chef Jose Valdez is not messing around; this is top-level farm-to-table cuisine. We first saw one as a waiter brought it to a neighboring table—vibrant greenery springing from a tangle of visible living roots submerged in a jar of water. We had to have one. All of the Living Salads feature greens from Living Waters Farm in Strawn, Illinois. Our Kale & Roasted Faro salad arrived with two sets of mini clippers and tongs so we could snip kale leaves from their stems and mix them in with small bowls of roasted faro, pollen, dried cherries, warm bacon vinaigrette, and a thin slice of radish. Everything about this dish feels delicate, elegant, and, of course, incredibly fresh. It’s a very petite salad with a very robust flavor thanks to savory bacon dressing and bright notes of cherries.
B. is one of those places that makes food writing incredibly easy. All we really have to do is list the ingredients in our entrees to convey how mouthwatering everything is. The Glenarm eight-ounce Organic Salmon & Pan Seared Bay Scallops come with butternut squash noodles, lemon brodetto sauce, and tomato jam. The jam is almost salsa-like in texture with a hearty dose of cinnamon. It’s the perfect addition to round out the flavors of the fresh, flaky salmon underneath a crisp crust on top of a pillow of microgreens. The scallops were sweet and tender, reveling in the creamy citrus flavors of the sauce.
Our entrée highlight was the Lamb. Also sourced from Slagel Farms, the rack of lamb was sliced by rib and stacked like savory kindling. Prepared a medium rare, the meat was juicy and buttery with a toothsome grilled crunch at the edge and an herbaceous crust all sitting in B. honey and cider gravy. Roasted Yukon potatoes are the perfect simple counterpoint and a ramekin filled with wilted baby spinach in lemon juice with slices of garlic rounds out the plate. Pair this with a glass of Malbec and it’s the dish to beat.
For dessert, we sampled their signature Milk ‘N Honey—B.honey-infused tres leches cake. This is a drier version of tres leches cake because the three milks appear as complements via a white chocolate honeycomb, a crown of dehydrated milk foam, and a delicate pad of vanilla panna cotta. It’s light, sweet, and gorgeously presented with edible flowers, a sprinkling of honey-oatmeal crumble, and a drizzle of their house honey across the entire plate.
B. Restaurant is located in the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort at 3500 Midwest Road in Oak Brook, 630-850-5525, blocalbfresh.com.