Sprout's chef serves up for spring greens

April 8, 2011 9:40:38 AM PDT
Technically, it has been spring for almost three weeks, and many local menus are emerging from the deep freeze, offering up ramps, peas and asparagus.

ABC7's Hungry Hound says there's one local chef who's excited about the season, recently adding brunch to his restaurant's offerings.

How much do chefs crave spring?

If you're like Dale Levitski, who cooks as much with the seasons as he can at the aptly-named Sprout in Lincoln Park, you flood the menu in early April with as much green as possible.

"One thing that all of us chefs do, is when spring is on the horizon, we just want to jump the gun because we can just see green and just smell green coming; people just want green," said Levitski.

Start with English peas, for example. He'll blend them into a puree, then form them into triangles and coat them in panko bread crumbs, frying them into pea cakes. They're plated along with braised lamb, plus some sauteed cauliflower, mushrooms and leeks.

"One of the things we're going to feature on our brunch menu is what I would call an alternative to eggs Benedict. Basically our meat is lamb, lamb is very spring as well, and lamb and peas and mint are a very classic combination," Levitski said.

At dinner, spring rears its head in the form of asparagus and artichokes, assembled on a plate with a frothy, pink peppercorn foie gras, golden beets and pickled raisins.

Levitski makes it even heartier with the addition of sweetbreads and peppery arugula. He says his foie gras is always there as a rich counterpoint to the healthier, crunchier notes in the salad.

"We serve it kind of as an accompaniment to a salad, and this time around it's asparagus and artichokes would be the theme. So raw and blanched asparagus, fried artichokes, some sweetbreads just for that kind of fun and mustard vinaigrette," said Levitski.

Well you know you're in the realm of a chef who really takes the spring seriously, when you see green not only on the plate but in the restaurant as well -- a sight for sore eyes not only for chefs, but for diners as well.

Sprout is open for dinner and Sunday brunch only.

Reservations are highly recommended.

1417 W. Fullerton Ave.