Exquisite food, beautifully presented. That is goosefoot. Together with the warmth and hospitality felt immediately upon entering the intimate restaurant, goosefoot is the type of place that many pre-fixe restaurants strive to be – comfortable, approachable, award-winning, and outstanding.
goosefoot, named after a plant family of great importance to the culinary world, is the labor of love of husband and wife team, Chris and Nina Nugent. Chef Chris, most recently of the well-decorated Les Nomades in Chicago’s Gold Coast, is the master in the kitchen. Nina not only designed the dining room, but also compiles the soundtrack, greets diners, and runs the front of the house. Entering goosefoot, I cannot help but feel that I am entering the Nugent’s home. The passion that they have for this place radiates through the entire experience.
Located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, goosefoot is a fine dining BYOB contemporary American restaurant. Chef Chris describes his cuisine as an artful blend of French technique with modern vision crafted from small artisan farm products. Chef Nugent’s talent for precision, refinement and visual artistry is evident throughout his elaborate menu. Chef Chris has a passion to cook with the highest quality seasonal ingredients grown and sourced from small artisan farms, and that is exactly what you get at goosefoot.
While goosefoot is more than willing to try to accommodate dietary restrictions and food allergies, only one menu is offered at goosefoot – a nine-course tasting menu which changes with the seasons and which is currently priced at $135 per person. While water, coffee, and teas are available, drinks are BYOB, with no corkage fee. Recently, my husband and I dined with another couple, and because it was a weeknight reservation, we limited our wine consumption to two bottles – one white and one red. The addition of a bottle of Champagne to start would have made the drink pairings even better.
Prior to our first course, we enjoyed a fantastic amuse bouche – a small bite of food designed to invigorate the palate. And boy, did it, not only taste-wise, but visually, as well. A small fried croquette was perched atop a bed of potted grass and was topped with a small, edible flower. Just as it sat atop the tips of grass, this bite was just the tip of the iceberg of flavors to come.
The menu then kicked off with an amazing dish not only to taste, but to look at, as well. A large scallop sat in the middle of an aromatic maitake, lobster, and lemongrass broth, with edible flowers decorating the scallop and the plate. While this dish was almost too pretty to eat, I am glad that I did as it was outstanding.
Next came begonia – an edible flower with a mild, slightly sweet and sour flavor – along with preserved garlic, shrimp, and english pea, beautifully presented in a hollowed out brown eggshell. How all of those flavors made it into that shell is beyond me, but I was happy to be eating it as every bite was creamy, savory, and delicious.
Our next dish was the perfect end-of-summer concoction – corn and potato soup with a sunflower essence. The aromas from this soup were fantastic, and it was served piping hot and full of flavor. It was quite light for having such a starchy base and was a wonderful intermezzo prior to the more protein-focused courses.
One of my favorite dishes of the evening was the perfectly cooked king salmon, served with another edible flower called the ice plant, and cucumber. If you are sensing a theme here with the edible flowers, you are not alone and I congratulate you for paying attention.
Another favorite, and perhaps the most savory dish of the evening, was the risotto, with borage – an annual herb – zucchini blossoms, and wonderful sliced summer truffles that sat atop the creamy and delectable risotto. This dish could turn any carnivore into a happy vegetarian.
For the last savory dish of the meal, I enjoyed a nicely seared white fish, with pine, szechuan peppercorn, and tokyo turnip, a mild and juicy type of turnip. Typically, the protein in this dish is angus beef, but I opted for a fully pescetarian menu and I am happy that I did. This fish was fantastic.
As a nod to the French influence laced throughout Chef Chris’ menu at goosfoot, next came the cheese course – crème provençal with rhubarb, mustard, fig, and fennel. The earthy flavors nicely balanced the creaminess of the cheese, and it was the perfect segue from savory to sweet.
Our first dessert was a beauty, and employed the fruity flavors of white peach and strawberry, and were nicely balanced by basil and cassia, a Chinese cinnamon.
Not to be outdone, the final dessert focused on flavors of pineapple, sorrel – an herb – coconut, and passion fruit, with a sublime chocolate truffle perched atop the layered dessert. To summarize this dessert in one word: outstanding.
A warming cup of hot chocolate was served to cap off the meal. The drink sat atop a box filled with armoatic star anise and other spices. Not only was the hot chocolate a nice touch to end a remarkable meal, but a precursor to the imminent fall months, temperatures, and flavors.
Our meal at goosefoot was exquisite. From start to finish, we enjoyed every moment. My only complaint is that dinner took quite a while, with long gaps of time between some courses. Because the dining room is small, the kitchen times courses to be delivered to multiple tables at the same time, so sometimes one table is catching up with another, causing delays. Otherwise, our experience was superb.
goosefoot is open for dinner only, Wednesday through Saturday, and offers seatings between 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Reservations are required and can take some time to secure, but be persistent and it will pay off. goosefoot is a perfect restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, for a business dinner, or just to visit for a wonderful meal in a relaxed setting. For seasonal, detailed, and beautiful food, goosefoot cannot be beat.
2656 West Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625