Thursday, November 6, 2008

North Pond Restaurant (part two)…the chef and the food

When I last left you dear readers, I was sitting contentedly near the fire in warm and autumnal atmosphere of the Arts and Crafts-style interior of the nationally recognized 3-star restaurant, North Pond. My friends and I were enjoying the vintage travel posters, quotes from Thoreau and Chaucer; the stunning views of the gold and red foliage in Lincoln Park, the flock of mallards that were playing in the sapphire-hued pond that reflected the Chicago skyline beyond.

I was elated to have been seated in this cozy nook where I would have a clear view of activities in the open kitchen. From my comfy oak Arts and Crafts chair, I was able to view the busy prep and line cooks and Chef Bruce Sherman at the pass where he meticulously checked each plate before it was served to diners.

the chef

Chef Bruce Sherman's Seasonal American cooking is a style that makes the most of organic and locally sourced ingredients. He integrates seasonality into its menu, but in a modest way. The Chef a member of the board of the Green City Market and has a strong commitment to environmentalism and local foods. In that respect, North Pond is easily closest thing to Chez Panisse in philosophy in Chicago.

In 2003 Sherman was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine Magazine. He has received multiple Best Chef pf the Great Lakes nominations from the James Beard Foundation, including one this year.

But instead of telling you what I know about Chef Bruce Sherman and North Pond,I will let him tell you about his food and the restaurant himself:

the food

The menu at North Pond manages to be interesting and exceptionally delicious without pulling any culinary slight of hand. After much deliberation, our party of three decided to choose the Five Course Seasonal Tasting Menu. After consulting our server, I choose a red and a white wine that would compliment all the courses.

The wine list of 100 or so selections focuses on boutique vintners.
The red I selected was a Pinot Noir, 2006 Cristom "Mt. Jefferson Cuvée” from Willamette Valley, Oregon. For the white wine, in honor of my friend with Alsatian roots, I chose a Albert Dirler, Grand Cru, Muscat from Alsace, France.

Crab / FennelChilled Stone Crab Claw, Fennel-Apple Salad, Smoked Caviar, Crab salad Profiterole

Intermezzo I
Prosciutto / Grape
Shaved Acorn Prosciutto, Root Vegetable Sformato, topped with Shaved Black Truffle, Concord Grape Preserve, Jupiter Grapes. Pea Shoots, Shaved Fennel, Parmesan Tuiles

Prawns / BeetSautéed Sweet Prawns, Candied Beets, French Heirloom Squash Puree, Pistachios, Parmesan

Ricotta / Pear
Sheep's Milk Ricotta Bosc Pear Raviolo, Smoked Bacon-Shell Bean Puree, Rosemary, Pickled Pears

Intermezzo II
Grape / Lemon
Concord Grape Sorbet, Lemon Verbena Gelée, Jupiter Grapes

Lamb / Carrot
Herbed Stuffed Saddle Medallion, Roasted Baby Carrot, Sweetbreads, Ginger-Carrot Reduction

Chocolate / Hazelnut
Gianduja Mousse Dome, Apricot Jam and Gelée, Malted Milk Ice Cream, Candied Nuts

(I learned form the Chef that Gianduja is a sweet chocolate containing about 50% hazelnut paste. It takes its name from gianduja, a Carnival marionette character who represents the Piedmontese Italian region where hazelnut confectionery is common. A related product is Nutella.)

Chocolate Crunch and Pear Gelée Squares
Chiogga Beet Seeds to take home and plant.

Rather that comment on each individual course, I want to comment on the presentation and flavors of Chef Sherman’s culinary point of view.
His inspiration is clearly the changes in the seasons. And that inspiration translates to something that the diner not only tastes and smells, but imbues you with a sense of the season.

Everything that we ate was simple…simply beautiful and delicious.

The dishes were prepared in such a way that the flavors in each did not mask or convolute the pure flavors of the ingredients. The flavors of the fresh seasonal products in the individual courses were complimented by the sauces and the vegetables. The combinations of ingredients really shine and each stands out on their own for what they really are.

Each course was comprised of several small bites.
I believe that the chef was using the ”law of diminished return” where the more that you have of something, the less you like it.

You finished each dish feeling that you wanted just ONE MORE bite.

I hope that you will have the opportunity to experience this restaurant.
I am certain that it wonderfully changes in every season to delight you.

I am looking forward to dining here by the fire as the snow swirls outside and tasting winter…
And in the spring when the whole park is alive in blossoms and be fed on new pale sweet green flavors…
And on a sweltering summer night, I want to sit on the terrace, sip a sparkling drink, catching the breezes off the pond as rich summer aromas hang in the air.
I image by now that you can tell that I am quite smitten with this restaurant for all seasons.

2610 North Cannon Drive ~ Chicago ~ 773 477.5845
Valet parking on Lakeview and Deming.

Tip: Make a reservation for an early dinner on a weekday or for the amazing menu of the Sunday Brunch from 10:30 am - 1:30 pm.
After the Sunday Brunch at North Pond, you are an easy stroll to the Caldwell Lily Pond, Peggy Notebart Nature Museum and Lincoln Park Zoo to work off all the delicious calories.


A Brush with Color said...

That place sounds fabulous! You are much more thorough than Zagats, Terrie! Beautiful!

A Brush with Color said...

I like your changing banners! ;))

Camera Crazy said...

Oh my goodness that sounds fantastic!

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci beaucoup Sue.
Glad that you liked this review, it was a wonderful place with amazong food.
Merci aussie for your comment on my new banner.

Salut Gail, merci for your visit and support.