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outofthefrypan

North Pond in Chicago

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I was reminded this past weekend what a Chicago gem Bruce Sherman's North Pond is. Though Sherman was one of F&W's best new chefs only a year or so ago, the restaurant gets relatively little in-town press these days. Judging from my meal and those of my tablemates, the quality continues to be stellar. Ingredients are seasonal and the combinations inspired. The foie gras and apricot appetizer (even better than mk's) is one of the best dishes I have ever had. And, despite his success, Sherman is still personally overseeing the dining room, working in the kitchen, and loading his own Green City Market vegetables into his station wagon. Of course, the location in Lincoln Park is singular. Any other North Pond opinions or experiences? I say go while Sherman still has so much great summer produce to work with.

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I am afraid I missed North Pond while in Chicago. I will say that Chef Sherman got on the phone with me one day some time ago now, to lend his support and advice on various issues ahead - being a chef, and chef/owner, and the trials therein. It must have been a half hour or so, and I am eternally grateful. The man deserves all successes coming to him.

Paul


-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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I've eaten twice and North Pond, and won't go back again. I will miss the setting. I won't miss the crowded tables, rushed service, food that didn't match the price tag, lack of attention to the wine list. I feel it's overrated.


We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Hi

My fiance and I celebrated our first anniversary, and New Year's Eve this year at North Pond. We had a spectacular time. We were seated in the best room (without requesting it), with a view of the frozen pond and the city skyline (complete with fireworks at midnights). We enjoyed a very gracious funny waiter, a relaxed pacing of the meal, two incredible wines from a very thoughtful well-priced wine list, and simply outstanding food. I'd put our meal in my top 5 for the year, and perhaps my top 10 during my lifetime (to give that some context, some of my other favorite meals have been at Chez Panisse, Spring, Nectar in DC, Barbuto in NYC..).

For $110 we were offered a 7 course tasting, with a $50 paired wine menu optional. We opted out of the latter, and chose to start with a 2001 VonKesselstatt Scharzhofberger Spatlese Riesling from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, and then move to a 1/2 bottle of 2003 Ken Wright Savoya Pinot Noir, finishing with glasses of Domaine Renardat-Fache, Cerdon du Bugey Demi Sec Rose. While the Riesling was outstanding (sweet, fruity, sophisticated), the Ken Wright stole the show-- while a bit young, this pinot had the promise of outdoing any Oregon Pinot, and perhaps any Pinot period, I've ever tasted. North Pond's wine list (the real one, not the online one) feature no less than 3 Ken Wright pinots, along with this half-bottle.

Ok, now to the food. Here's the lineup:

1. Caviar, Cauliflower.

Smoked Caviar, Cauliflower Panna Cotta, Parsley Jus

This amuse came in a little bowl: creamy cauliflower covered in a thin layer of parsley gelee, topped with black (herring maybe?) caviar, with a little blini on the side. The combiination of slick cream, salty fish, perfectly prepared blini was a great promise of things to come.

2. Stone Crab, Celery.

Chilled Stone Crab Claws, Celery Root Slaw, Green Apple Gelée

The fruity gelee was bright next to the cold claws, and this dish has little bits of lobster too.

3. Foie Gras, Truffles.

Warm Foie Gras Mousse, Red Wine-Black Truffle Syrup

Outstanding! Superb! Bravo, Warm, spicy, incredible match with the Pinot.

4. Lobster, Scallop.

Coconut-Poached Seafood, Glazed Beauty Heart Radish, Fennel, Curried Carrot Emulsion

This was fresh and lovely, but I don't recall much else.

5. Lamb Rack.

Slow-Roasted Chops, Mushroom Turnover, Spinach, Bacon Onions, Cinnamon Jus

A generous portion of 2 medium rare chops, incredibly woody mushrooms, deeply flavored spinach and onions.

6. Cheese

Capriole Mont St. Francis, Sally Jackson, Truffled Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert, Quince Paste, Fruit and Nut Croutons

A wonderful selection of stinky and creamy artisanal cheeses with a crispy raisin bread.

7. Chocolate, Fruit

Chocolate and Citrus Chibouste, Winter Fruit Tartelette, Rose Petal Ice Cream

The tartelette had candied apricots, the chocolate was dense and sweet, and the ice cream was worth scooping up instantly.

I'm drooling...I'd love to revisit this meal again! IMO, North Pond is worth the price, no question, and I'd go back again in a heartbeat.


Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I was reminded this past weekend what a Chicago gem Bruce Sherman's North Pond is. Though Sherman was one of F&W's best new chefs only a year or so ago, the restaurant gets relatively little in-town press these days. Judging from my meal and those of my tablemates, the quality continues to be stellar. Ingredients are seasonal and the combinations inspired. The foie gras and apricot appetizer (even better than mk's) is one of the best dishes I have ever had. And, despite his success, Sherman is still personally overseeing the dining room, working in the kitchen, and loading his own Green City Market vegetables into his station wagon. Of course, the location in Lincoln Park is singular. Any other North Pond opinions or experiences? I say go while Sherman still has so much great summer produce to work with.

Hear, hear! Why doesn't the North Pond get more press?

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I have had nothing but great experiences at North Pond. In addition they are great supporters of my friends at Slow Food Chicago, have a great write up in the Slow Food Guide to Chicago, and will receive high praise in my book as well. The way I see it, they're doing everything right.

Brad, you said:

I've eaten twice and North Pond, and won't go back again. I will miss the setting. I won't miss the crowded tables, rushed service, food that didn't match the price tag, lack of attention to the wine list. I feel it's overrated.

All very subjective stuff, but I suppose that's what it's all about. For me, the service has never seemed rushed, and I like crowds - makes for a convivial atmosphere. I guess I see your point about the prices, but as an out-of-towner, all the prices in Chicago seem outrageous to me.

Regarding the wines, I fully appreciate your broad expertise, but I don't see what's not to like in this list (see it at http://www.northpondrestaurant.com/text/menuWine.cfm)

It's not the biggest, but a vast majority of us have trouble choosing from a list of just 20-30 wines. I don't like the enormous lists of 100s of bottles. part of the Sommeliers job is to narrow down my choices for me. I found plenty of interesting stuff.


Peace,

kmf

www.KurtFriese.com

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I also have had two great experiences there, and reported on the most recent one on this board. I found the pace of the service very relaxed (as opposed to the frenetic activity at mk), and the food great. The server recommended an unusual wine I didn't know, and I still have the label they saved for me. Really one of the true gems of the city.

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My girlfriend asked me where I wanted to eat for christmas...and I told her NorthPond...-rewind-...I moved to this city in september and had read about the restaurant prior to moving here...she was showing me around the lake/park in early october, on a chilly afternoon, and we walked past the restaurant...i was able to put the name with the memory of what i had read...we stood outside and read their menu, looked in their windows, and wished we were in their dining room...fast-forward two months and the she would ask me where I wanted to eat...the answer was easy.

NorthPond was beautiful and the food was absolutely INCREDIBLE. The service was perfect. Everything was outstanding. I mean EVERYTHING.

I would guess that the restaurant doesn't receive much press because it has so much harmony. The harmony of location, architecture, ambience, service, food, and impression is so strong that there really is no need to "gush", "blurb", "spiel", "critique", or "review"...NorthPond is more than all of those things and to give it publicity would almost "cheapen" the whole experience. It's a "best-kept secret".

trevor williams

-culinary student at Kendall College-


eGullet Ethics Signatory

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I want to treat a friend and her husband to dinner, since I'm in Philadelphia I need to gauge the food scene. I remember when North Pond first opened it got lots of press and I really wanted to go there. Is it still worthy of acclaim? The menus on the website seem terrific. When I was there a few years ago I took them to Charlie Trotter's, and I know they've been to Schwa recently. Any help appreciated... thanks.


Lisa K

Lavender Sky

"No one wants black olives, sliced 2 years ago, on a sandwich, you savages!" - Jim Norton, referring to the Subway chain.

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I know that Chef Jeffery Mauro (of Bradley Ogden) is now working there and he is a very innovative and creative young chef...I didnt get a chance to eat there during my Chicago trip, but it was high on my list because of him....


Moo, Cluck, Oink.....they all taste good!

The Hungry Detective

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I was just in Chicago and attended the Food & Wine magazine event and met Bruce Sherman.

He was so interesting to talk to. I was intrigued by his display of brussel sprouts and other

veggies at his station - his dish was an amazing salmon creation - and I asked him about

the brussel sprouts. He immediately with great enthusiasm started telling me about the farmer's

market he goes to and exclaimed "GO THERE!" We explained we were in town so briefly and

couldn't go. We have him high on our list for our May visit. We enjoyed our talk with him and

his philosophies of fresh ingredients and related we talked about what is now more available

here comparing notes, definitely would eat there! A hui hou!


"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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I was taken there during the course of a 2 day job interview--it was terrific, and I hope I get the job so I can go back again!

Good soup, interesting main course, very good vegetable side dish--snagged some really nice brussels sprouts from another diner--and a terrific dessert.

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Fantastic! Thanks all for the feedback, it's what I value eG for!


Lisa K

Lavender Sky

"No one wants black olives, sliced 2 years ago, on a sandwich, you savages!" - Jim Norton, referring to the Subway chain.

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went to north pond for my birthday and had a terrible experience. if i were to recomend a restaurant in chicago i would say butter or even moto if you want something fun

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went to north pond for my birthday and had a terrible experience. if i were to recomend a restaurant in chicago i would say butter or even moto if you want something fun

I have eaten there several times. Lunch/Brunch and dinner. I do not understand how it rates so highly on some foodies' palates, but it does. All my experiences there have been mediocre at best. However, I am in the minority. The setting can be pretty spectacular.

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Lenski and hambone, could you post again and be more specific about what you meant by "terrible" and "mediocre?"


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Lenski and hambone, could you post again and be more specific about what you meant by "terrible" and "mediocre?"

Last time I was there was for Brunch. It is very close from my CHicago residence so it is Ambria or, I will admit it, Mon Ami Gabi.

My last brunch was the typical egg frittata and sundried tomatoes. Not only it was bland but the service was terrible (slow and attitude).

I will post when I go back. Again, some of my friends really like it. I do not.

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I'm not really nuts about North Pond, but I think I may have ordered poorly.

We went for the fiance's birthday back in March. We had a great table and the service was wonderful, but I just wasn't that impressed with the food. Actually, my biggest gripe is that the way many of my dishes were composed the food was just difficult to eat. For example, I ordered a duck dish for my main course that was really more like a hearty soup. The dish had what I think were small duck egg rolls, but they got sort of gummy from sitting in the broth, which made them very difficult to cut or eat.

I would like to go back and give it another try. I just wasn't as blown away as I thought I would be given the way people talk about this restaurant.


-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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Sure alex no problem well to start the evening we were welcomed with menus saying habby birthday printed on them and given a decent table looking out on the pond, and that's the highlight. we then waited a good 15 minutes before a server of sorts came over to take the drink order then the food. i'll say decent at best small portions for high prices (which i'm ok with if the food is good but) lack of flavor and somewhat poor execution. A member of my party had to return one of her courses 2 times before it came out right and while explaining what was wrong with the server he replies well i just take the order i don't cook the food what can i do about it and took the plate from the table. I left feeling un satisfied with the food and service as well as dissapointed after realizing i spent my birthday dinner there and didn't have anything good to say about the experience. i hope this will suffice alex as to why i had a terrible experience

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Last Friday evening I enjoyed a meal at North Pond with my family. Before our meal even began, our experience with the restaurant was marked with a bit of uneasiness. In the end this wouldn’t come to define the meal, but the situation was rather strange.

We had made a reservation for 8:45 and called ahead to let them know we’d be running maybe 15 minutes late. Not laudable but not exactly a travesty either. The hostess, after checking with the dining room manager, informed us that if we were not there by 9:00 they might not be able to seat us, 9:10 at the absolute latest. This wasn’t because they had booked the table to turn but because the restaurant claimed the kitchen starts to break down after 9:10. I realize North Pond is in a park but to have what is effectively a fine-dining kitchen close at 9:00 on a Friday is absurd.

Fast-forward a few minutes to my sister running from taxi to restaurant in heels in order to secure our rather transient table at the hostess table. It would turn out that other parties would come in after us and the kitchen did not in fact start to break down until well after 9:10. I understand they’re probably trying to contend with alcohol regulations in the park, but after we’d told the hostess we were on our way a little bit more flexibility, or even reassurance, would’ve been nice.

Anyway, things soon improved when we were seated. Although we weren’t even able to dine in the front room, I found the main dining room quaint, the open kitchen fitting the rustic lake house vibe. Our server was very pleasant and friendly, again maintaining the image that the restaurant was something of an escape from the city.

Between the four of us we were able to sample a nice selection of highly seasonal menu. The cooking here is solid, if a little bit lacking in finesse and complexity. This comes out in the dishes—comprised of good ingredients, well executed and conceived but somewhat one-dimensional.

The most memorable savory dishes of the night were the crab salad—light, fresh, subtly creamy—and the salmon draped with lardo—subtle with its light seasoning, the fish and fat were foiled by a parsley-onion coulis. That these dishes are memorable is perhaps notable because they were so simple. Those dishes with more components became somewhat muddled.

On the sweeter side, we were served an intermezzo of aggressively herbal sorbet—anise-mint, I believe—with a rhubarb compote. An assertive palate cleanser to say the least, but also a welcome surprise. A vanilla-raspberry parfait-pot-au-crème-thing was also quite tasty.

North Pond isn’t a restaurant that will inspire fits of culinary enlightenment. With that said, it’s a solid restaurant from concept to execution and somewhere I would definitely go back to. Something of an escape from most “city” restaurants can be a nice thing from time to time.

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Has anyone been to North Pond recently?

My wife and I will be in Chicago for just two days (where her work will be shown at SOFA) and hope for two memorable dinners. Slow Food Chicago is enthusiastic about North Pond, but many others here found the food disappointing.

Maybe we should enjoy our higher-end meal at Blackbird? I'll be grateful for current comments.

Tom


Edited by Tom (log)

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