Tomatoes grow, star at NoMI

August 4, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The terrace at NoMI, up on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, has always been a cool place to hang out and grab a drink or a light bite. But more recently, it's also been the place to spot some urban gardening, as the occasional chef will pop outside and do a little harvesting. It's a riff on the "farm-to-table" trend sweeping the city, and it's also inspiring a chef to overload his August menu with as many tomato dishes as he can.

To say it is an urban garden is an understatement. The brief, seasonal tomato garden on the open-air terrace at NoMI, located on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, is an extension of the kitchen's ambitions this time of year.

"It was really a dream for me to create the garden and the menu together, and the tomato for the summer was perfect," said Chef Christophe David of NoMI.

Tomatoes come in many forms on David's menu: from a tomatoey, eggplanty marmalade -- along with a farm fresh egg -- paired with a deeply-intense Spanish cured ham, to a supporting role, in the form of tiny teardrop tomatoes alongside a homemade wedge of pork and rabbit pate. David also lets the tomatoes shine front-and-center, in dishes like this composed plate of heirlooms.

"The heirloom is the first original variety of tomato. They are very more concentrated on the meat of the tomato and less juice," David said.

In this case, they share the plate with fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and chive blossoms. There are countless BLTs around town this month, but few are as ambitious -- and as elegant -- as this: crispy applewood-smoked bacon adds just the right note of texture to this late summer indulgence.

"We really want to focus on the quality of the product and just add them to be best-looking and taste for the guest," said David.

One note: Chef David just announced he is leaving the restaurant in about 10 days to move to Switzerland, but his tomato menu will remain, at least into September.

NoMI at the Park Hyatt
800 N. Michigan Ave.

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