JB and I started a tradition last year of starting the school year with a delicious dinner at Kendall College Culinary School. This year, once again, we had an amazing taste experience, made even more delicious by the presentations and explanations of each dish we ordered and even dishes we didn’t order which were brought to us by Chef Browning for our enjoyment.
The red stains on our tablecloth (pictured above) were from the chilled beet soup with fingerling potato confit, creme fraiche, and pickled fiddlehead ferns. (Yes, pickled fiddlehead ferns!—mmmm). The brown stains are from the roasted bone marrow with oxtail marmalade and toasted porcini brioche. These were just two of the fabulous appetizers we had. (The other two were goat cheese ravioli in a parmesan broth with sun gold tomatoes and market peas and the pan-seared bay scallops, with chive gnocchi, oyster mushrooms, shallots, and chardonnay.)
We shared a couple of salads: Heirloom tomatoes (grown in their own gardens) with ground cherries, pickled purple asparagus and wild purslane and a market berry salad with hickory nuts, sunflower shoots, Old Kentucky Tomme cheese and a creamy ver jus dressing.
We hadn’t eaten all day in order to savor as many of these dishes as possible. Main courses: grilled hangar steak of grass fed beef, truffle mustard fries, with wild watercress and chive butter and smoked chop of duroc pork, with cherry barbecue sauce, goat cheddar grits and onion preserve. We ate leisurely taking our time, luxuriating in and relishing the nuance and creativity of carefully orchestrated flavors.
Chef Browning brought all five desserts to our table. The Corn Sundae was unbelievable– sweet corn ice cream, chocolate ice cream, salted caramel ice cream, caramel corn, and crisp berliners. There were kernels of dried corn sprinkled throughout as well. There was a peach croustade in brown butter custard, caramel and peach ice cream; flourless chocolate cake with strawberry rhubarb jam, milk chocolate ganache and mint bay ice cream; honey cake with honey macerated berries, berry semifreddo, berry granita, katafi, and black pepper gelee; and watermelon, plum, and nasturtium sorbets on a black quinoa salad, with a nasturtium flower that JB plopped into his mouth and chewed with gusto.
When Chef Browning said there was one more course coming, we thought he was joking, but soon a small tray of handmade candies came to the table. We had to take them home. There was no room left.
A luscious meal.
With my belly in digestive ecstasy and tastebuds in heightened sensitivity, I knew I was ready for the school year to begin — anticipating what recipes might work best with this year’s fresh and unique ingredients.
NB: The Dining Room at Kendall College is the first and only culinary school restaurant included in the Michelin Guide Chicago 2011 and the only culinary school restaurant included in any Michelin Guide.
Committed to sustainability, they are the first culinary school restaurant to become a Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association. From a brochure of the College: “The Dining Room sources local food, composts, recycles and practices energy conservation. We also operate our own sustainable garden where students grow and harvest produce for use in the restaurant.”
(Photo of stains by JB)