Tuesday, July 31, 2012

goosefoot - chicago, il

2656 west lawrence avenue
chicago, il 60625

taking its name from the plant family also known as chenopodium genus, goosefoot is chicago's newest byob tasting menu only restaurant owned and operated by longtime les nomades chef chris nugent. located in chicago's lincoln square neighborhood, the restaurant has made quite a name for itself since its opening in december of 2012. most notably, goosefoot upstaged grant achatz's concept shifting restaurant next as eater chicago's top new restaurant. with a considerable buzz around the restaurant coupled with a dining room that holds just 34 diners, getting a table at goosefoot is no easy task. currently opentable is the best route for securing a reservation, but you will have to commit to a table 90 days in advance. prior to the meal carrie and i stopped by binny's and picked up two bottles of wine to go with the meal. our choices were a gruner veltliner from austria and a pinot noir from oregeon's willamette valley.
our arrival to goosefoot was unfortunately almost ten minutes past our reservation time of 5:30pm due to an incredibly confused cab driver who would have taken us to a completely wrong address had we not been tracking the route ourselves via gps. frazzled from the debacle, we made our way into the small restaurant and were greeted warmly by chef nugent's wife nina before being led to our two top along the left wall. with our bottle of white wine promptly whisked to the kitchen to begin chilling we received a brief explanation of the menu (8 course tasting) and reconfirmation that we had no dietary restrictions. throughout the course of our meal, several different servers visited our table to deliver dishes or refill water glasses. all were cheery and seemed knowledgeable, but no one team member was overly engaging or stood out as being the leader.
the evening's amuse bouche was a sliver of poached beet with goat cheese. this was tasty enough with the tang of the cheese nicely pairing with the sugary beet, but overall i found this a rather weak introduction to the meal.
1. lobster/scallop/licorice root/curry

kicking off the meal was a seared scallop topped with licorice root foam resting in a lobster and mushroom ragu. to the left is a dollop of butternut squash puree and to the right is an assortment of edible micro greens and flowers. this was a very strong opener with the perfectly seared scallop possessing all of the natural sweetness one would expect while the salad on the right provided a bit of bitter contrast. it was not until we were almost finished with this course that our chilled wine was returned to the table. while it was somewhat frustrating that we were unable to enjoy the dish with wine, the blame is on us for arriving late. i will also note here that at goosefoot they open the wine for you but claim they are unable to pour it. this differs from bonsoiree (under shin thompson) who takes care of everything and schwa who doesn't even open the bottles for its guests.
2. corn soup/potato/shrimp/truffle essence

for course two we received a rather large portion of corn soup filled with potato and shrimp and topped with a white truffle foam. on the outside of the bowl we have most notably a parmesan gougere along with a swipe of sauce and some greens. as good as the scallop course was, this dish took things to a whole new level. first we have the foam which upon the dishes arrival made its presence firmly known as it gave off that unmistakable truffle aroma. opting to try a bit of it on its own first i was happy to find that its flavor lived up to its scent. next i sampled the soup itself which was wonderfully sweet yet rich and luxurious at the same time. finally, after mixing everything together in the bowl and having a few bites, i opted to eat the light but potently cheesy gougere on its own (recommended by our server).
3. arctic char/maitake/english pea/espelette

next up was arctic char with maitake mushrooms, english peas, and a swoop of espelette pepper puree. this was another very solid offering as the char was well cooked and cut like butter. there is more to this dish than i can accurately recall...
4. duck breast/spiced beluga lentils/ginger/compressed apple

after eating the char we polished off our bottle of gruner and one of the servers opened our pinot noir in preparation for the heavier courses. pictured above is pan fried duck breast with beluga lentils, ginger, compressed apples, and a few other components. duck is definitely one of my favorite proteins and this preparation definitely did not disappoint. i really enjoyed trying small pieces of duck with all the different flavors on the plate. like most of nugent's dishes, no two bites are just alike.
5. angus beef/heirloom carrots/goosefoot/cumin/shallot jus

for the meal's main course we have the much hyped consomme poached angus beef elaborately plated with carrots done three ways and several other ingredients. this course was a real stunner as the poached beef was incredibly tender and absolutely full of flavor. definitely one of the best pieces of beef i have ever had. as for the carrots, we have poached, pureed, and a modernist gelled rendition on the far right of the plate.
6. crispy goats milk cheese/lemon balm/red pepper/balsamic

bridging the gap between savory and sweet was the most composed cheese courses i have ever had. here we have goats milk cheese covered in a thin layer of phyllo dough and fried, creating a light and crackling exterior that gave way to a soft and gooey interior. the "bunny ears" on the plate were a red pepper puree and the dots were lemon balm and balsamic vinegar. while i am not certain, i believe the powder to the right was an olive oil powder. i really like how instead of throwing a few pieces of cheese on a plate with some fruit and/or nuts nugent instead creates a legit dish.
after the cheese was a palette cleanser of pomegranate, yuzu, and thyme. this was quite refreshing with the tartness of the yuzu being the primary flavor i detected.
7. passion fruit/coconut/lime/vanilla cremeux

as a rule i am particularly bad at describing desserts and after having had almost a full bottle of wine at this point in the meal, my memory is beyond hazy. i really can't offer much commentary here aside from saying that i remember both carrie and i really enjoying this. by the way, there is no pastry chef at goosefoot...nugent does it all.
8. chocolate/sea beans/orange/port wine

for the meals final course, we have a chocolate mousse covered in a light and crispy chocolate shell with an orange cream, a swoop of port wine, and some chocolate covered sea beans. this was a phenomenal dessert in both flavor and texture, and while this may sound strange, there was a certain flavor to it that reminded me of something from my childhood...i'm just not sure what exactly.
to finish we were brought one final treat...a gooseberry dipped in chocolate and chopped hazelnuts.

after downing two cups of coffee each we collected our menus (printed on planting seed paper) and were thanked enthusiastically by nina nugent (chris never visited the dining room during out visit) before hailing a cab and heading back to our hotel for a much needed nap before the next phase of our evening. what i liked best about the food at goosefoot is that even though there was a lot going on with each of the plates, they were really only as fussy and confusing as you want them to be. what i mean by this is that while every dish has a foam/gel/powder along with several other small ingredients, at their core they all feature a perfectly prepared and seasoned protein that could easily stand on its own without all of the other trickery. often with fine dining i worry if i am eating a dish the way it was meant to be eaten. what if i don't combine all the components correctly? am i eating this as the chef intended? could this be more enjoyable eaten differently? whether you are the type of diner who enjoys constructing the perfect bite or one who prefers to just eat without over thinking (i consider myself a hybrid of the two), you will be happy at goosefoot as there is really no wrong way to eat nugent's food. at $90 per person, goosefoot is a serious bargain and in my opinion the restaurant is a lock for a michelin star this november. being that chef nugent has a twelve course menu in the works, i can say without hesitation that carrie and i will be visiting goosefoot again in the future for the extended experience.
Goosefoot on Urbanspoon

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