Everest- Old School Fine Dining in Chicago
I hear the view is spectacular from Everest’s 40th floor location in the Chicago Stock Exchange building. Unfortunately, we happened to dine there on one of the many cold, cloudy nights we had in Chicago this winter. The dining experience was so lovely, however, that I didn’t even miss the view.
I’m not exactly sure how long the restaurant has been there, 25 years maybe, but it carries the vibe of a very classic American-style fine dining place. It’s not over-the-top gaudy or showy, not boisterous or pretentious, just simple, beautiful and elegant. The food is not deconstructed or petit or very fancily plated. It simply is what I imagine fine dining used to be.
It is one of those places, however, that sneak in extra courses when you aren’t looking. I have to say, I kind of love that on one hand. I mean, who doesn’t like surprises (especially delicious ones!)? On the other hand, I wish I knew what was coming so I didn’t end up stuffing myself silly. In this case, we ordered 3 courses and ended up with 8. Yeah, big difference. Silly, stuffed silly. But they were all so beautiful that it’s impossible not to indulge in at least a bit of each! So we did, happily.
As I said before, the meal was quite lengthy so, I won’t bore you with every detail of it. The best part are the photos, anyway, so I’ll let you indulge that way with little snippets from me. Here goes…
One must begin a meal like this with a glass of bubbly. Don’t you think?
The amuse bouche:
Such a gorgeous presentation, isn’t it? I wish I had one of those funny spoons with the little stand on it at my house. I’m not sure what I’d do with it but I’d figure something out. I’d probably eat cereal with it every morning. Anyway, our favorite of the four, by far, was the sunchoke soup (second from the left). Sooo flavorful and creamy. The others were a cod fritter, crab salad and some soft mousse of sort.
My ‘official’ first course was an herb risotto with escargot. It was delicious in a little bit of a ‘cheater food’ kind of way. By that I mean that everything was prepared properly and the flavors were balanced very nicely, but then the flavor lingering in your mouth was that of the butter it was finished with. It didn’t need it.
This is when drenched-in-butter is a good thing. Our other first course: Butter Poached Lobster. Yeah, it was pretty much heaven. Sweet, delicate, tender. It was hard to share this one.
Seared foie gras seemed like the logical next course. Yes, more decadence, please! It too was, obviously, fantastic. It’s like silky meat-butter with a caramelized crust. This one happened to be served with some lovely seasonal ingredients. You can see the fiddlehead ferns curled up to the left and the beat puree underneath. Who really cares, though, when there’s melty fatty goodness running all over the plate? :)
Next was tongue and cheek… Crusted Birkshire Pork Cheeks and Poached Veal Tongue. Now, this is still our ‘second’ course, mind you. This may have been my lest favorite. It think frying pork cheeks is just tooooo much. Plus, the crust was a little greasy and since the cheeks are so fatty anyway, it was too much of one thing. I suppose the salad was there as its counterpart, offering some brightness, but it just wasn’t enough for me. And the tongue was fine but I think I was having flashbacks of peeling that thick first layer off of an enourmous boiled cow tongue (including the buds) in culinary school. Ick.
I guess our 3rd course wasn’t as much of a stand out for me, since I can’t tell you what the accompaniments are on this pork dish. Yes, more pork. This time it was a lean one, though: the tenderloin.
Nor do I remember the details from this lamb loin. It’s quite substantial, though, huh?
And that should have been it for us. The chef was kind enough to let us replace the dessert course with a second appetizer course, allowing us a 3 course meal of all savory items, since we didn’t want to go overboard. Hah! Well that didn’t stop them!
First they sent a little celebratory sorbet. Very sweet of them, I thought.
Then we got a chance to go check out the kitchen and speak to the chef. The kitchen is tiny and he was very nice. He decided that we should maybehave just one dessert to share. Come on, just one!
But that also entails a ‘pre-dessert,’ which is what this is. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but some sort of fruit soup with a floating cream mousse. It was fab. We slurped it right up!
Then, the actual dessert arrived. Rhubarb parfait with strawberry compote. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but it really was quite pretty inside.
When these beautiful little confections arrived, I knew we’d finally done it…we reached the end. We live! But don’t think that we had to share this little plate between the two of us. Oh, no. We each got our own and we each cleaned it off. Not a crumb left.
The service at Everest was quite nice, as you can imagine. It wasn’t as precise or detailed as some other fine dining establishments I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, but not bad overall. The team was pretty on it and the sommelier was very helpful. Our ‘captain’ was a little strange and quirky, not what I expected to fine at a place like this, be we laughed it off in the end.
I can’t say that ever aspect of Everest blew me away, but I’m glad I got to experience one of Chicago’s original fine dining establishments. Maybe next time we can even catch the view!
The short version (out of 10)…
Overall impression: 8
Would I go back?
Since it’s not often that one gets to dine in this sort of special occasion restaurant, and seeing as how there are several others in Chicago that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of dining in, probably not anytime soon. But was it a nice experience? Yes.