North Pond in Lincoln Park is a one-of-a-kind restaurant, complete with excellent food and a setting that pairs the Chicago skyline with the bucolic beauty of the city’s largest park. The structure was originally built as a warming house for ice skaters in 1912. Renovated and then reopened as a restaurant in 1998, North Pond exemplifies the decor and mindset of the Arts and Crafts movement. For partner Rich Mott and chef/partner Bruce Sherman, seasonal, local, natural and sustainable aren't just buzzwords. They define their approach-not just to food- but to life in general.
The Arts and Crafts movement began in Britain early in the 1880s and then spread to the Americas and the rest of the Europe. In terms of decor, the movement was a rebellion against the overly ornate designs popular in the preceding decades. The movement also embraced an appreciation for skilled craftsman, natural materials, and a concern for the world around us.
Sherman applies the same principles to his cooking. Menu listings are limited to two items, such as “Beef, Root Vegetables,” or “Pumpkin, Cranberry.” An expanded description-again limited to components-is offered below the initial listing.
“Squab, root vegetable gratin, pear jam, charred endive, gingersnaps ,” for the first, and “Spiced Pumpkin Mousse, Gingerbread Stout Cake, Cranberry Sorbet, Charred Delicata, Pepita Candy, Rosemary” for the second.
Plating is designed to spotlight the various elements combined to create the whole. Check out the pictures. In this case, they’re truly worth a thousand words.
Making it work requires a chef like Bruce Sherman, someone who has both skill and intellect. Born and raised in the north suburbs, Sherman realized he didn’t want to follow the traditional career paths embraced by students at an Ivy League college when he was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He graduated with a degree in economics, having spent his junior year at the London School of Economics.
Driven by his growing interest in food, he envisioned a career in restaurant management. At this point, Sherman and his wife went to India for four years, a trip that had a profound impact on his choice of career. Intrigued by the diversity of the country's cuisine, Sherman found himself leaning more toward a career in the kitchen than a career in management.
After the couple’s first child was born, Sherman spent a year as a stay-at-home dad, followed by a year-long course in the culinary arts. When the family came back to Chicago, Sherman took a job in the kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Positions at other top restaurants followed, and then, in 1999, he took over the kitchen at North Pond.
"It was serendipitous," Sherman recalls. "Rich and I are in tune with each other. There have been a lot of changes in the food world since we teamed up, and we've successfully navigated all of them.
As for the future, Sherman says he's cooking the food he likes.
"There's so much diversity in the marketplace. Foods that were 'weird' and 'foreign' twenty years ago are now mainstream. You have to stay interested; you have to pay attention."
North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Drive 773.477.5845
Dinner: Wednesdays-Saturdays beginning at 5:30 pm.
Brunch: Sundays beginning at 10:30 am
Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille
Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille’s signature dish is its pork chop. Described as “seven- fingers-high,” it’s large, and a lot of the people who order it wind up taking some of it home. As a result, Rick Moonen, the group’s Master Development Chef, is creating new recipes for use by home cooks interested in repurposing the leftovers.
The first recipe is for Perry’s White Bean Pork Chili, and it’s already on the restaurant group’s website. But that’s only the beginning.
Perry’s is also challenging diners who have Perry’s Pork Chop leftovers to develop their own recipes. The recipes can be shared on their personal social media page and tagged @PerrysDining on Facebook, @Perrys Steakhouse on Instagram and hashtag #LeftOverChopChallenge. If Perry’s adds a donated recipe to their website, the home chef will get a free Pork Chop Friday Lunch.
Happy Hour at III Forks features $1 oysters and half-priced ($9) burgers topped with aged cheddar and a lemon aioli. Also included are half-price glasses of wine and $5 house martinis.
The specials are available Mondays-Fridays from 4-7pm in the lounge.
III Forks, 180 N. Field Blvd. 312.938.4303
National Pasta Day
Thursday, October 17th is National Pasta Day. To celebrate, Francesca Restaurants in Illinois will be serving pasta entrees for $12. 95. The special is available only at dinner and only for dine-in customers.
National Pizza Month
Who knew it was National Pizza Month, a time to celebrate an all-time favorite. And on Saturday, October 26, The Florentine will be hosting a hands-on pizza making event led by executive chef Zach Walrath. To further sweeten the pie, participants can sip wine and sample the antipasti buffet while they cook. The class begins at 3 pm and costs $50 per person.
Also at The Florentine, the Apertivo Hour includes reduced price sips and bites weekdays from 4-7 pm. Guests also receive a signature pizza with the purchase of any alcoholic beverage.
The Florentine, 151 W. Adams Street 312.660.8860
Osteria Via Stato
Interested in learning more about wine? Sample 20 wines for $25 on October 26, 2019 at Osteria Via Stato. The event begins at 2:30 pm.
Osteria Via Stato, 620 N. State 312.642.8450
Filed under: food and wine