Fine dining meets BYOB in Ravenswood

January 27, 2012 9:43:50 AM PST
Among the Ravenswood taquerias and Vietnamese sandwich shops, Goosefoot offers exquisite dining at a set price each night. And it's BYOB.

Goosefoot is the creation of Chef Chris Nugent, whose last two jobs included Betise in Wilmette and the venerable Les Nomades downtown.

"My wife and I saw the property, it looked like a great property and after seven years at Les Nomades I thought it was time to venture out on our own here," Nugent said.

Every night, Nugent offers an ambitious eight-course tasting menu for $90.

"It's a market-driven restaurant and you know Goosefoot is a plant family, and Goosefoot basically represents us going down to the market," he said.

Recently, that meant a soup, with braised chestnuts and mushrooms. "There's a little treasure in the bottom of this dish," he said. The soup is pureed into a silky-smooth texture, via an immersion blender, and topped with a frothy-milky truffle foam. Tiny quails are roasted to perfection, set over a shallow pool of spiced lentils, embedded with both Asian and Mediterranean ingredients.

"You have a little pickled ginger, a little cumin, olive oil, balsamic. And it really pops in your mouth really add that nice spark and then the fresh apple salad over the top, it's beautiful," said Nugent.

A cumin-scented carrot puree joins other root vegetables on a plate with fennel puree. "Two dots there just to kind of add a little contrast to the flavor," Nugent said.

Maitake mushrooms and caramelized pearl onions serve as an earthy companion to the perfectly-cooked beef tenderloin, which gets a final garnish of micro greens.

There are typically two dessert courses. In addition to a chocolate puck paired with orange cream, mulled wine and chocolate dipped sea beans, Nugent also offers a creative take on pumpkin, using the Cinderella variety, then fortifying it with a coffee cream sauce and drops of mandarin gel.

"The flavor of it is just amazing. Its unique texture, has that red flesh inside, it's a little bit drier than the regular pumpkin," he said.

The set price or $90 might seem high at first - it is - but when you consider you can bring your own beverages and not pay a corkage fee, or the standard high markup, the amount of money you could potentially save makes a difference.

"Everybody is bringing their own bottle or bottles, which is funny cause some people come in with bags of wine which is interesting. But I had to actually go out and a few more decanters," said Nugent.

No lunch at Goosefoot, just dinner. There's usually a few more treats than just the stated eight courses -- in the way of a small bite or two before and after the meal.

2656 West Lawrence Avenue