Lockwood Restaurant

Palmer House Hilton

Monday, January 21, 2008

With Chef Rotisseur Phillip Foss and Maitre Hotelier Peter Lynn*



By Ethel Gofen, Dame de la Chaîne

The handsome face of 36-year-old Executive Chef Phillip Foss adorned the construction wall outside the Palmer House Hilton, now undergoing a $150 million reconstruction, welcoming guests inside to marvel at the transformation of a lobby area into the brilliant new Lockwood restaurant.  Conseiller Gastronomique des Etats-Unis Roger Tracy celebrated Chef Foss’ arrival by inducting him into the Chicago Chậine chapter on January 21 as the grand finale of a superb dinner in which eight luxurious courses were matched with finely orchestrated wine pairings.

The reception featured five delicious hors d’oeuvres—-oysters with champagne pearls, miniature crab cakes, salmon tartare, a tantalizing mushroom cappuccino, and a stunning creation of bacon and eggs on brioche toast with pork belly and quail egg and fig compote.  The French sparkling wine Boyer Brut Blanc de Blancs NV (named for the actor Charles Boyer) was selected to accompany these varied flavors.

Maître de Table Traîteur Edward John Calihan III toasted the guests once Bailli de Chicago Jane Tracy had invited all to enjoy “fine cuisine, the joy of connoisseurship, and the importance of sincere friendship.”  A series of dazzling dishes began with a Napoleon of smoked sturgeon, yellow beet, vodka crème fraîche, and golden Imperial Ossetra caviar—-an homage to Chef Foss’ Russian ancestors—- which was paired with Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé NV.  The dish exemplified the cuisine of Lockwood:  a nod to tradition (the restaurant is named for Lockwood Honoré, Bertha Palmer’s brother), with contemporary, progressive and always elegant flair.

Next came Maine lobster claws with cauliflower ravioli and the crisp sweetness of shaved Granny Smith apple to refresh the palate.  The Domaine de Baumard Savennières 2003, its dry start rounding out with fruit flavors, matched the complexity of this savory dish to perfection.

Vice-Chancelier/Argentier Aren Fairchild discussed the wines, while Chef Rôtisseur Phillip Foss himself commented on the cuisine.  After five years at Le Cirque in New York, this rising star’s celebrity and culinary genius will soon be known throughout Chicagoland, and weren’t we fortunate to discover him first!! 

The Intermezzo of a magical lemon sphere containing pomegranate seeds was followed by three succulent dishes and carefully chosen wines to enhance the culinary experience of each one:  rare squab with foie blonde and flavors of braised red cabbage,  port, and bitter chocolate matched with Whitford Cellars Pinot Noir 2001; sweetbreads à la Paul Bocuse featuring black truffles in a pastry shell paired with Mommesin Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots 1er Cru 1990;  and long-braised, aromatic lamb chops matched with Domaine André François Côte-Rôtie 1998.

After a fine cheese course, Chef Foss’ love for chestnuts shined through his sampler of three desserts matched with three “wines,” the most unusual being the pairing of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout with the chocolate ganache-filled beggar’s purse.  Each guest took away a brownie, originally created for Bertha Palmer and the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, along with memories of a sensational meal.