My colleagues and I were headed to Chicago for a work-related trip in January and as a token of my appreciation for all of the hard work they put into preparing for this trip, I wanted to take them all out to a nice restaurant. But, I didn't want to take them out to just any nice restaurant -- I was seeking a unique experience, one that would be different from any we could find in Washington, DC. Chicago is known for its exquisite restaurants so it wasn't hard to find several that met my criteria. After much research and many discussions with restaurant staff, I chose the Everest for my special dinner.
Everest, one of the country's premier restaurants, is located on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange building. The chef, J. Joho, is known throughout the world for his superb cuisine. As the owner and/or Executive Chef of the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in France, the Paris Club in Chicago, Brasserie Jo in Boston, and Everest in Chicago, he has made his mark across the world. The Everest, is an award-winning, Michelin-starred French restaurant that offers meat and vegetarian degustation menus. Having had some negative experiences in DC with French restaurants, I was hesitant to even ask if they could accommodate me, but after realizing how unique this restaurant was, I decided it was worth a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Chef Joho was happy to accommodate and proposed a menu to me that sounded incredible. So, I booked the dinner, and we headed to Chicago!
When we arrived at the building, it looked like your typical Chicago skyscraper. We walked into the building and as we tried to go through the turnstiles into the lobby, we realized they were all locked. The security guy remotely unlocked them for us and asked if we had a reservation. After confirming that we were on his list, he allowed us up the elevators. That was some serious security! We took the elevators up to the 39th floor, then took a different one to the 40th floor.
When we arrived, they escorted us to the River Room in the private dining area . This room offers breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline. My colleagues were incredibly impressed as we spent 20 minutes just standing and looking out over the magnificent city. They began by offering everyone drinks. I had chosen two wines for the night -- a Terlato Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley and a Bordeaux from Chateau Haut-Beausejour. St. Estephe. Very nice choices, if I do say so myself.
We eventually all took a seat at the large table and took a look at the menu. I had already chosen my entree so I didn't have any choices to make. To start, they brought out some delicious bread and while it was served to everyone else with butter, they brought me a little miniature pitcher of olive oil and poured it into a dish for me to use separately. I loved that little pitcher! Oh, and the bread was good as well.
Then, the chef offered an amuse bouche to everyone. Mine was a tiny beignet that was filled with vegetables served over minced vegetables in a tasty sauce. It was so cute that others remarked about its cuteness when they saw it! On the tasting spoon was a mixture of beans and veggies. It was delightful.
Next, we were served our first course. Mine was a fricassee of wild mushrooms beautifully molded into a cylindrical shape and topped with flash-fried greens. It was surrounded by beets on greens and served with a sauce. The presentation was beautiful and the food was exquisite. This course was incredible.
My main course was a smoked yukon gold potato stuffed with cannellini beans, carrots, and other vegetables and served with a vegetable medley of green beans, root vegetables, and carrots. I know this sounds like a lot of vegetables and may not sound that exciting, but it really was. The potato was smoked perfectly so that it was firm, yet tender and stuffed with vegetables that were cooked perfectly. But it was really all of these sauces that brought the flavors together.
For dessert, I was served a trio of sorbets -- a typical dessert for a non-vegan restaurant, but these sorbets were anything but typical. The flavors were banana lychee, coconut lime, and concord grape served over a concord grape coulis with fresh pomegranate seeds, mint, and nuts. It was scrumptious.
We also ordered a moscato, but the waiters brought out a special bubbly one for me to try, which was very nice.
Afterwards, we were served other delectable bites -- mine were pineapple vanilla jellies.
I requested to speak to the chef, but little did I realize that Chef Joho himself was cooking that evening. He came out to our table to meet me, which was a great experience in and of itself. He told me he is very good friends with Michel Richard at Citronelle, the premier French restaurant in DC. I told him about my experience at Citronelle in that the chefs told me that they wouldn't serve me because French cuisine, they said, is based upon meat and cream and there are no vegan options. He laughed and said that sounded crazy and told me I am welcome in his restaurant at any time. So, let it be known that not only does he accommodate vegans, he enjoys serving him. That is something special in a restaurant of this caliber and not something I've been able to find often.
During the entire dinner, the staff was attending to our every need. The wine was being poured regularly and the dishes cleared quickly. It was if we had a team of people serving just our room. The food and service were exquisite and the view was spectacular. This was definitely one of the best dining experiences I've ever had. I only hope I have the pleasure of dining here again. Highly recommended.
440 S. LaSalle Street, 40th Floor
Chicago, IL 60605