Chicago Restaurant Week: Perennial Virant
Restaurant Week is an annual event that takes place in many cities and gives the average Joe a chance to check out their city’s most fabulous restaurants for a discounted rate based off a select menu. Keep reading to learn more about our visit to top Chicago Restaurant Week pick Perennial Virant and look forward to our photo blog tomorrow! More after the jump…
Perennial Virant is a Chicago hotspot headed by chef Paul Virant. Paul Virant is the chef and owner of both Perennial Virant and Vie (Western Springs), giving both Chicago and the suburbs superb dining experiences. Perennial Virant is located across from Chicago’s Green City Market; I always look forward to visits to the market to pick up local produce and savor in the variety of intriguing choices the market offers.
Chef Virant himself focuses on the origin, production and quality of the ingredients he brings to the table. The seasonal menu showcases the best the Midwest has to offer, whether it’s a root vegetable or a melt-in-your-mouth whitefish. The restaurant also makes strides in the area of preservation; the back wall is lined with pickled items that add flavor to the dishes and showcase both the restaurant’s elegant space and primary goal of bringing quality food to the people dining there.
The restaurant has a sense of familiarity; I happen to know the bartender there, but the general vibe is a positive one that is both inviting and comfortable. I love the use of the space, from the long bar to the dim lighting and the use of both tables and booths. The corner booth gives diners a view of the the bustling intersection of Clark, Lincoln and Wells, and the large table in the center of the space gives a real sense of community dining.
My favorite item from the three-course dinner? The butternut squash soup with heavy cream. I could drink this soup up by the bucket-load, no joke. The gnocchi is always a standout; the current choice is ripe with savory mushrooms, sunchokes and one of the best sauces I’ve ever tasted: smoked apple butter.
Chef Virant was named Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef in 2007 and Best New Chef by Chicago Magazine. Virant has appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America (versus Chef Morimoto!) and received the James Beard Best Chef Great Lakes Nomination.
During Chicago’s restaurant week (actually over a 10-day period), over 200 restaurants offer their prix fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and either $33 or $44 for dinner. It is the perfect time of year for you to revisit your favorite mainstay or get to the new ‘IT’ restaurant you’ve been dying to try.
So tell me, readers: What restaurant do you love, or which have you been wanting to check out? Let me know in the COMMENTS!
Don’t forget to come back for tomorrow’s Perennial Virant photo blog!
Until next time,
Tags: best chicago restaurants, chicago, Chicago dining, chicago magazine, chicago restaurant week, Food and Wine magazine, lent recipes, Paul Virant, Perennial Virant, restaurant week, seasonal cooking, Vie Western Springs, whitefish