440 S. LaSalle | Chicago, IL
Everest, while an absolutely fantastic experience I would recommend to friends, colleagues, and anyone who asks, was not good enough to win me over either Avenues at the Peninsula or Les Nomades. I do, however, think it had better food than Alinea, better service than L2O, and a better overall experience than Ria. If you love French food, and can only try one uber expensive fine dining experience this year, go to Les Nomades. If you want to get a distinctly Chicago experience that is almost as good but has a better view of our city in a historic building, go to Everest. If you can afford to do both, by all means, HAVE AT IT and invite me to come along if you like! Avenues is still #1 on my list of the restaurants given Michelin stars, but I STRONGLY RECOMMEND Everest and would go back again (especially if someone reading this review invites me to be their guest. Smile.)
Continuing on my Michelin star restaurant quest and admitting up front that this review is biased based on comparison to the other Michelin star restaurants at which I have dined. See all reviews of the list here http://bit.ly/nGR9Vc
Most relevant comparisons: L2O (quality of food, value relative to others); Sixteen (decor highlighted by beautiful views); Avenues (Service and staff) but unlike Avenues, Everest is not CLOSED now. (Read about Avenues closing here)
Roasted Maine lobster in butter and ginger sauce almost made me cry it was so good. The terrine of Foie Gras with black mission figs was the perfect balance of sweet and savory. The wild halibut with heirloom tomatoes was perfectly prepared and amazingly flavorful. The veal? Not so great and quite the disappointing final course.
Dessert was absolutely fantastic, both the selection of cheeses and the Alsace Style Plum Financier, fromage blanc Tuileries, with cinnamon glace. Yum! Cannot pronounce most of it, but boy was it good! I could have done without the paired Hungarian Riesling poured with it, but that leads me to the wine review….
Wine note (part of Food rating):
I am not going to change my system and rerate all restaurants based on wine but I do find that with these upscale dining experiences the wine can make or break a particular venue. The fact is, Ria is made better by their sommelier and his personal participation in the evening. Likewise, the embarrassingly poor explanation of wine pairings at L2O hurt my experience there. Unfortunately, Everest was more like L2O. Note to restaurants: I can read. If all you are going to do is read the label to me, save it! At Everest, most of our wines were poured by a somewhat grumpy server who did not smile the entire evening. At one point, he poured a French Pinot Gris that was definitely a bit sweeter than my norm. No, I am not a wine expert but I do drink it a lot. I mentioned this to him when he served the next bottle and he just about scolded me saying, “It was NOT sweet, maybe off dry but not sweet.” Whatever grumpy!
Unlike Les Nomades, where I felt the server enjoyed making us happy, this place had servers that seemed to do it because it was how they were trained. Strangely, the net result is the same, but I left with a slightly less satisfied feeling after my meal at Everest. Yes, everything was well timed. Yes, every course was served seamlessly, explained well, and picked up at just the right point after completion. But the team seemed just a TAD sterile. Don’t get me wrong, here. Service was spectacular, but do I remember anyone in particular or have fond thoughts of the team overall? Not really. The kitchen team at Avenues that seemed to be having a ball or the service staff at Ria that worked so hard to please made me WANT to give them a 5.
That said, this team gets it. You are paying a lot for a meal and it needs to be an experience that is both memorable and flawless. I did not have to ask for anything the entire night.
It took me a while to get over the fact that I felt as if I had walked back into the 80’s but was missing Madonna, bad hair, and rubber bangles on everyone’s wrists. I mean mirrors, white walls, somewhat gaudy lighting, and white art deco furniture was a bit overwhelming. But the view, oh the view, it makes you forget everything else. We initially were seated at a table removed from the windows but when the restaurant cleared, we were asked if we wanted to have our cheese and dessert at a window. Spectacular view of the city. And while the decor is a bit dated, the restaurant was clean, ambiance pretty nice and the noise level minimal. There was also artwork from an Italian sculptor that is a friend of Chef Joho that was pretty cool.
Tasting menu at $125 per person for roughly 8 courses was higher than many and equal to a few of the other high end of the restaurants on the list. The wine pairing was a bit pricey relative to the others at $98 per person. The champagne was ridiculous with a glass of Mumm at $24 (More than a bottle at Binny’s). Our meal for the two of us was $570 so with tip this was a $700 meal. I do not give this restaurant a 3 because that is ridiculous, though most will agree that this cannot be a normal meal. However, relative to some of the other restaurants on the Michelin list which have great food at much better pricing, I would say Everest is a lower value.
This is getting harder as I reach the final restaurants on my quest. I saved a few of the highest rated for last. Just how do you compare venues like Everest, L2O, Ria, Avenues, and Charlie Trotters when all of them are clearly leaders in fine dining? All of them would arguably be classified as 5 star restaurants in their own right. And, frankly, you are guaranteed to have a good meal at all of them. But alas, I must try hard to differentiate amongst the “dining gods”. Everest, while an absolutely fantastic experience I would recommend to friends, colleagues, and anyone who asks, was not good enough to win me over either Avenues at the Peninsula or Les Nomades. I do, however, think it had much better food than Alinea, better service than L2O, and a better overall experience than Ria.
In relationship with #foodies,