Many people might shy away from Latin-Indian fusion cuisine, because really… What is that? At Vermilion, it’s a Spanish flare with an Indian kick of boldness and creativity.
We stumbled across Vermilion after the Architectural Boat Tour in Chicago, and were fascinated by the menu. Every line possessed a savory and sweet combination of delectable ingredients. Vermilion was just opening for lunch. Could this place really deliver on its mouthwatering descriptions? We decided it was worth a try.
Owner Rohini Dey and Chef Maneet Chauhan designed Vermilion’s sophisticated aura and sinfully delicious masterpieces. The elegant décor was kept simplistic with black chairs, white tablecloths and accents of red, or sindoor in Indian, symbolizing femininity. Large black and white and subdued color photographs depicting beautiful Indian women adorned the walls above the booths. The restaurant world is typically dominated by men, but these two women have created a distinctive niche that offers a unique twist on conventional cuisine.
Each dish was constructed to exemplify each ingredient and how it contrasted with the other flavors. We wanted to try everything, literally, so our server, Josie, recommended the chef’s tasting menu and we were not disappointed.
From top left, mysore lamb chops seared in a tandoor with minty red onion salad, platanos machanos, juhu ki pani puri flour shells with spiced potatoes and a tangy fresh puree of chili mint, and mussels in a coconut chili and coconut broth infused with curry leaves. This was the “collection of four tapas” for the table. I highly recommend it.
The Duck Vindaloo is perfect for grazing while enjoying drinks with friends. This was one of my favorites with a slight heat that contrasted with the coolness of the mango and intense flavor. I ordered it in Chicago as well as New York.
The Caldeirada de Peixe, or seafood and vegetable stew originated in Latin America. Seafood stews are usually hit or miss, but this one was a hit with subtle heat and spiceyness.
Our entrees were Lobster Portuguese and Lamb. Both were good, but too much sauce on both. The heavy sauce with the richness of the meats was a bit overwhelming.
For dessert, I asked Josie to recommend a fruity dessert. As full as I was, this Mango Flan blew me away. The tartness of the mango with the sweetness of the flan was heavenly.
Chicago: Vermilion is located at 10 W. Hubbard, Chicago, IL 60610. 312-527-4060.
New York: Vermilion is located at 480 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY 10017. 212-871-6600.