with Chef Chris Nugent

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – Thursday, April 24, 2014

Contemporary American classics held over 2 consecutive evenings


greeting spring at goosefoot


The Chicago Chaîne experienced the consummate hospitality and fine dining of Chef Chris Nugent and his wife Nina at their Michelin-starred restaurant on April 23 and 24, 2014. Goosefoot offers contemporary American cuisine in an intimate (34 seat) restaurant well off the beaten path from downtown dining. The location is no impediment to goosefoot’s success, however; reservations here are highly prized. The Chaîne’s event was held on two consecutive evenings to accommodate as many members as possible, and not surprisingly sold out quickly.

As always, Nina Nugent greeted guests with warmth and polish. Coats were whisked away and happily exchanged for glasses of champagne. The Chaîne provided bubbly for the reception—Champagne Pierre Moncuit Brut Millesime Grand Cru 2004. Beautiful bites soon streamed out of the kitchen: smokey sunchoke puree soup with white truffle froth; a crab, avocado and citrus canapé; Osetra caviar, green tomato sphere, olive oil on brioche; smoky whitefish with crème fraîche; and delightful Parmesan gougères.

Following the convivial reception, guests sat down to dinner. Although normally the Chaîne’s cellar supplies carefully matched wines, this event was different. Goosefoot is always bring your own bottle (BYOB), and in keeping with that spirit members brought their own wines to dinner. The invitation also encouraged guests to participate in “Open That Bottle Night” (OTBN), dusting off special bottles and sharing the memories associated with them. A stunning variety of wonderful wines and stories flowed all evening long, with attendees happily leaning over to other tables to share their treasured wines with friends.

Some of the oenophilic highlights enjoyed at the event included: a magnum of 2009 Aubert Larry Hyde and Sons Vineyard Chardonnay; 2008 Domaine Benoit Ente Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Folatieres”; 2004 and 2010 The FMC Chenin Blanc; 1998 Château Haut-Brion Blanc; 1989 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim; 1983 J.J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel; magnums of 2004 Emilio Moro “Malleolus de Sancho Martin” Ribera del Duero and 1989 Château Beychevelle, Saint-Julien; 1993 Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; 1983 Château Cos d’Estournel; and amazing finishers—a magnum of 1993 Dolce Napa Valley Late Harvest Dessert Wine from Far Niente and 1979 Nederburg Edelkeur, South Africa.

Chef Nugent has been known for his exquisite plating since his days at Les Nomades, and here in his own restaurant, that skill shines even brighter. However, it’s not just pretty food; it tastes as good as it looks. On our visit, the colors and flavors of spring were in full play. To call this cuisine “joyful cooking” may sound hyperbolic, but there is something truly happy about the food served here.

We started with two stunning seafood courses. First, a perfectly seared sea scallop topped with a flavorful floral garden of ginger, lemongrass and coriander. Next, Tasmanian King Salmon was served atop English pea puree, garnished with begonia flower and accompanied by a mini-mug of frothy lobster bisque.

Our third course was a brown hen’s egg filled with foie gras mousse, cherry and a crunchy crumb topping and a purple borage flower with brioche on the side. For our main course, we enjoyed Angus beef on a parsnip puree that was further enriched with turtle and smoked paprika.

Our fifth course was Murray’s Hudson Flower sheep’s milk cheese sourced from Old Chatham Sheepherding in the Hudson Valley and aged for a month after being coated with a proprietary blend of herbs, elderberries and hop flowers. This Corsican-style cheese was topped with apricot and a razor-thin slice of dehydrated fennel with peppercorn, accompanied by raisin bread, more lovely floral garnishes and dehydrated olive oil.

Chef Nugent has recently launched a line of stunning bonbons, and dessert showed off his chocolate wizardry with hand-painted chocolate jewel boxes accompanied by strawberry, lychee and tapioca. Finally, guests were treated to mignardises, including dazzling bonbons, which were presented like multi-colored flowers sprouting through bright green grass.

It has been a painful winter for Midwesterners, and spring has been positively sulky about showing up and staying put. At goosefoot, however, spring was in the air and on the plate. The conversations continued to flow as the last plates were cleared, the camaraderie in the room fueled by an evening of flawless food and hospitality from the Nugents and the particular joy of sharing a great bottle of wine with friends.