Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Baby Seal Walks into a Club… Hollandaise on a Baby Moon

Zagat's just listed Les Nomades as the best restaurant in Chicago.

I had the pleasure of dining at Les Nomades* early last Christmas season and it was worth every nickel. The service is attentive and informative, without making . . . well me . . .feel like the Summer School Valedictorian.

Rarely does one find exquisite food served with wit and friendly admonitions regarding cutlery and elbows.

My beautiful table mate and I were dining at Les Nomades with an ever so lightly falling Currier and Ives snow outside and roaring genuine wood fire warming toes and hearts. Every detail of the food, the presentation, and even the fine china serving dishes are exquisite.

Into the main course, we are struck by revulsion as the sauce for the charred asparagus and mushroom ragout arrived; to be served on a distinctly cheap-looking metallic disk, that looked like the Baby Moon on Maury Lanigan's 1964 Pontiac Tempest . Not being a craven sophisticate nor a devotee of Nouveau French cuisine and the byzantine rites that accompany the pre-prandial delights, I mentioned the odd presentation to Brendan our waiter.

With a warm smile Brendan explained, “There’s no plate like chrome for the hollandaise.”

A couple of fish are put in a tank. One says to the other, "How you drive this mother?"

Souriez et le monde entier sourit avec toi. Fronce les sourcils et vous êtes sur votre propre, Jack!


In the pantheon of local restaurants few fly, as the cliche goes, "under the radar" quite like Les Nomades. That should soon change for a couple of reasons.

Zagat named Les Nomades as its top-ranked Chicago restaurant; Alinea can't get the top spot all the time. Zagat calls Les Nomades “one of the last bastions of haute cuisine" while praising the “beautifully prepared" food of chef Chris Nugent.

The ranking may be a tad bittersweet for Les Nomades, as Nugent is leaving to open Goosefoot in Lincoln Square (2656 W. Lawrence Ave.). Named after the edible green that grows freely within Chicago's city limits, Grub Street Chicago's Michael Gebert reports Nugent has no plans on downsizing or making his take on French cuisine less expensive.

[Nugent] plans to offer an 8-course and 12-course tasting menu for an anticipated $90 and $140 in the 36-seat space. But the restaurant will be BYO, putting Goosefoot in the same fast-growing high end-accessible category as places such as Schwa and EL Ideas.
Nugent also told NBC 5's The Talk he plans on opening Goosefoot in November.

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