Goosefoot remains an unrivalled hit with Chicago’s discerning foodies. Proprietor and chef Chris Nugent’s restaurant in Lincoln Square neighbourhood has been packing them in despite its BYOB policy; a blast from the past, remember that old 70’s concept?
But, while the absence of an impressive wine list might make some suspicious, not to mention prove a little inconvenient to the visitor unfamiliar with good local vintners, anyone who has sampled of the menu seems to think it’s a irrelevant. Furthermore, Goosefoot not only operates a no-charge corking policy, but even provides tips on both ideal wines to accompany its dishes and where to find them locally.
The menu at Goosefoot also reflects a growing local trend to do away with lengthy menus of endless choices, instead offering a table d’hôte approach; fixed price tasting menus of eight or twelve courses. It’s an entirely fitting approach to Goosefoot’s ethos that combines the now-with-feeling gestures of classic French cuisine with the best of American epicurean traditions.
Food here is a journey, a shared and social experience through many taste bud terrains. Thus, a typical menu might follow the tasty opening shots with a curry of lobster, scallops and root liquorice via duck breast with spiced beluga lentils, ginger and pressed apple to hit the heaviest point; a sumptuous Angus beef delight served with heirloom carrots, cumin, shallot jus and, of course, the beloved goosefoot from which the establishment takes its name. Even then there would be another refreshing course before hitting the pudding proper: passion fruit, coconut and lime bouncing off a perfect vanille cremeaux. And even that isn’t the end for the intrepid diner who, as we suggest, go the distance.
Chris Nugent’s place shows just as much thought and detail to the entire dining experience and that, no doubt, accounted for its immediate stellar status amongst locals in the know. That and of course, his lengthy stay at the helm of Les Nomades’s kitchen, the legendary Chicago eatery. At Goosefoot, a relaxed and unobtrusive décor focuses all attention on the food. This is not one of those places where the interior serves to compensate for what you’re eating.
The menu, based on fresh locally sourced ingredients – to the point that Goosefoot name the preferred farms that supply them- is not a stand-alone concept. The commitment to high-quality locally sourced produce is something of a buzzword ( or buzzconcept even) among Chicago’s most fashionable restaurants. But here the intention to imbue fine dining with a genuine local sensibility even extends as far as the choices for china and furniture.
Goosefoot is one of those places where the promise of a sincere and honest cuisine is not an excuse for serving up the bland. The combination of Nugent’s training in the grand French tradition and the humbler roots of American cuisine is a winner. This really is one of those situations where what sounds familiar and straightforward at first turns out to be anything but, both in the conceptualisation and even more so in the delivery.