A few weeks ago we met up with some friends for drinks and dinner. I was lucky enough to get a gift certificate to Perennial Virant from my colleagues in Chapel Hill as a going away gift so we decided to check it out. It is located in the Hotel Lincoln and we started the evening by meeting at the J. Parker, the rooftop bar. The space is neat and modern and the drink menu had some really nice options. The view of the city is fantastic but, next time we will certainly have to go back in the summer to properly enjoy the view on the vast outdoor patio.
After drinks, we headed downstairs to Perennial Virant. The space is warm and inviting, yet formal; as though you are in the formal dining room at someone’s home. Our reservation was early so the space was not full when we arrived. However, as the evening wore on, it filled up and was actually quite loud. I noticed that most of the tables were groups rather than couples.
The restaurant’s tag line is ‘eat what can, can what you can’t’, so the focus is on using seasonal ingredients and pickling and preserving for later use. These preserved elements are scattered throughout the menu.
For my appetizer, I started with the Crispy Carnaroli Rice Cake which was served with cheese curds, pea shoots, spring onion vinaigrette and pickled summer beans. The rice cake was nice with a rich creamy center, with the cheese curds mixed in, and a wonderfully crispy crust. The pickled summer beans added a tangy bite.
For my entree, I had the Hazzard Free Barley Flour Pappardelle with mushroom conserva, braised leeks, chestnuts, and a lemon sauce. The pappardelle noodles, made with barley flour from Hazzard Free Farms, and were very hearty and earthy. The earthiness of the mushrooms and chestnuts were a nice complement and the lemon sauce lightened the up the flavors. My only complaint with the dish was the portion size; given the hearty noodles and rich flavors, a smaller portion would have been acceptable.
Everyone seemed to enjoy their dishes, though to be honest we were chatting and didn’t have the opportunity to spend much time discussing the food and comparing notes! The service was straightforward but I can’t say it was overly friendly. It was a nice evening catching up with friends and enjoying a fine meal.
1800 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614