Milling Around

When pictures of the new Randolph Street restaurant, Nellcôte, began to circulate, it was impossible to not want to go immediately, based on aesthetics alone. The decor is country French meets West Loop loft, with sparkly crystal chandellers and exposed cement  support beams throughout the restaurant. The dining room, which is open and grand, is set off by the gorgeous custom made cushioned chairs that line the rows of tables. Speaking of chairs, I was quite taken with the robin’s egg blue Baroque style chairs in the entryway. Once I walked into the new hotspot Tuesday night, it was clear that the enticing pictures I’d seen didn’t begin to do this place justice. There is no question, Nellcôte is one of the coolest places I’ve been in quite some time.

My friend and I were seated on the second floor, at a sprawling counter top that over looked the bar and entire dining room. If you enjoy people-watching and scoping each person that walks through the door, then this perch is for you! With arguably the best vantage point in the restaurant, we began our dinner with a ridiculous cocktail, generically called “Vodka”. The beverage contained budda’s hand-infused grey goose, orgeat (a sweet syrup made from almonds), fresh mint and club soda, all poured over crushed ice. I could have sucked down three of these drinks in 2 minutes flat – it was so refreshing and tasty, without being overly sweet. Yum!

Any menu that boasts more than a handful of dishes with truffle is a friend of mine. And did I mention they MILL THEIR OWN FLOUR?!?! Nellcôte is the only restaurant in the U.S. that takes on this process. Why go to this trouble you ask? Taste the pizza and you will question no more. The Sunnyside Up Organic Egg Pizza with fontina and black truffle was dynamite! The unlikely combo of egg atop pizza added something different and so good. And fontina + truffle, you just cannot go wrong. 

While we’re talking about flour miling, let’s discuss the hand-cut taglioni pasta, with champagne, oysters, créme fraiche and chives. The al dente noodles had a perfect thickness; there was nothing boxed about these noodles that were tossed in a creamy sauce with notes of truffle.

The Halibut “brandade” with sturgeon caviar was flawless. The succulent fish was beautifully prepared with an incredibly flavored piperade (peppery) sauce.  I would not hesitate to order this melt-in-your-mouth dish again.

It seems I am working in reverse here, as we started our meal with the Artichoke Salad and White Apsaragus Soup. The Artichoke Salad was my least favorite, and it wouldn’t be wrong to skip it. As for the soup, the pureed asparagus was fresh and mild, only to be made better with the addition of a grilled diver scallop, black truffle and brown butter.

As for dessert, we didn’t even entertain the idea, but we heard it is quite good. I guess I’m saving that for next time.

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