Thursday, August 18, 2011

everest - chicago, il

440 south la salle street
chicago, il 60605


while not as dynamic or cutting edge as many of chicago's current fine dining stars, chef jean joho's everest has remained a revered player in the chicago dining scene since its opening in 1986. exquisitely located on the 40th floor of the chicago stock exchange buidling, everest's menu is classic french cuisine with a focus on chef joho's native region of alsace. everest has consistently been a member of gayot's yearly rankings of the top forty restaurants in the united states, and was also awarded a michelin star in the fall of 2010.

after a bit of confusion as to which building everest was located in, carrie and i checked in with security at the bottom floor of the stock exchange, and were told to take the elevator to the 39th floor where we would then switch elevators to go up to the 40th floor. after walking down a long hallway, we turned a corner and walked into the fabulous dining room. upon announcing our name, we were led to a two top which gave only carrie a view of the city.


everest menu options are fairly simple, with three and four course menus being offered along with a seven course degustation. we, of course, opted for the seven course and even added an extra course to the mix for good measure. per our usual, we also decided to split the wine pairing as we had plans for drinks at the aviary after our meal and didn't want either experience clouded by an excess of alcohol.


shortly after confirming our order, an amuse bouche trio got things started. on the left we have a piece of lightly breaded fluke, in the center a cold corn soup, and on the right a red pepper puree. all three we quite good, and made for a good introduction to chefs joho's cooking.


terrine of foie gras, alsace vielle prune, black mission figs
pinot gris, emilebeyer, cevee de l'hostellerie, 2009 - alsace, france

served with brioche toast points and a bit of melon, our first course of the evening was a terrine of foie gras with prunes and black mission figs. although maybe a bit firmer than i expected, the savory liver spread nicely on the brioche, and was perfectly offset by the sweetness of the fruit. having experienced mostly warm preparations of foie, this was definitely a nice change, and carrie commented that she much preferred foie served in this fashion. everst boasts an impressive collection of alsatian wines, and our first pour was a light and fruity pinot gris.


upon our completion of the foie course, the first of many visits from the bread man occurred. with about seven choices on offer, we each started with two selections. carries choices (pictured left) were an olive bread and a sour dough, and mine were a milk bread and a baguette. while all four options were terrific, the milk bread was the clear winner for me. the butter that was served was among the best i have ever had, being wonderfully smooth and sweet.


roasted maine lobster in alsace gewurztraminer butter and ginger
gerwurztraminer, chateau d'orschwihr, bollenberg 2007 - alsace, france

course two, a contender for dish of the night, was a generous portion of roasted maine lobster in a fantastic gewurztraminer butter and ginger sauce. this was a pretty straightforward course, but was decadent and delicious for certain. another wine from france's alsace region was served with the lobster.


slow cooked wild halibut, braised sweet onions, english pea jus
touraine, clos de la plante martin 2007 - loire valley, france

next up was a perfectly cooked fillet of wild halibut in an english pea jus. also on the plate were some wonderfully soft and sweet vidalia onions that may have been the best tasting onions i have ever had.


after the halibut course, a few other tables had departed, and we were moved to a table in the window with a view that seemed to go on forever. this was a nice touch that we appreciated greatly.


fillet of wisconsin veal, wild chanterelles, corn galette and summer squash
pinot noir, cooper mountain vineyards 2008- willamette valley, oregon

continuing the parade of amazing savory courses was a tender and flavorful wisconsin veal fillet. i often find veal to be rather bland, but that was not the case at everest. while the summer squash was also quite good, the rich and slightly sweet wild chaterelle mushrooms were outstanding. a light bodied oregon pinot noir was paired with this course.


magret of mulard duck, wild pine honey, alsace style marinated turnips

our final savory course of the meal was an addition we made to the standard seven course tasting. a mulard duck is one that is used to harvest foie gras, and the term magret refers to the breast of the duck. according to the menu, this is one of the dishes upon which everest has built its reputation, and as a lover of duck, i knew this was a can't miss. characteristically rich and savory, the duck was indeed amazing, and further enhanced by the wild pine honey. the bird was paired with a red wine, but i a unfortunately unable to recall the varietal.


composition of midwest farmstead cheeses
zinfandel, hentley farms 2009 - barossa, australia

served with some wheat bread, a nice assortment of midwestern cheeses with a variety of textures and intensities followed the duck course. up front is a soft camembert, and in the rear is a pugent blue cheese. i am unable to recall the other two types, but the one on the right was the firmest and the one on the left the most mild.



tarragon gelee, lemongrass tapioca, strawberry glace

the first of the two sweet courses was a light and refreshing multi textural experience. the sweet and smooth strawberry glace was nicely offset by both the acidic and toothsome lemongrass tapioca balls and slightly savory tarragon gelee. after the heavy finishing courses and bold cheeses, this dish really hit the spot.


parfait of michigan bluberries, alsace fromage blanc, sheep's milk caramel glace
moscato d'asti, san giuliano 2009 - piemonte, italy

paired with a lovely moscato from italy, the final dessert of the meal may have been the meals only slight disappointment for me. while the wine was terrific, i was hoping for something chocolate to end the meal, and although this certainly didn't taste bad by any stretch, it just wasn't my thing.


after savoring the last drop of my moscato, we were presented with a tray of mignardises to share. the cone was chocolate filled with marshmallow, and the dollop to its left was a fruit flavored gelee of some sort.

even though i tend to lean more towards more modern cuisines, i went into everest with my hopes fairly high, and was not disappointed in the least. all of the savory courses were rich and delicious, and even though there was a small let down with the final dessert, seven excellent courses and one ok course is a win in my book. in regards to the setting and service, everest exceeded my expectations on both fronts. having read several reviews stating that the decor was dated and the service stuffy, i was quite pleased that the staff was not as stiff as expected, and even joked with us a bit as the night progressed. as far as the interior is concerned, it may not be super modern like alinea or l2o, but it has a very elegant and timeless look to it and fits the style of food perfectly. add the magnificent view into the mix, and everst's ambiance is truly special. overall, carrie and i were both thrilled with everest, and would rank it right behind tru as our favorite 1-star michelin establishment.

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