NELLCÔTE DINNER. Jared Van Camp. Chicago.

JBF Jared Van Camp

One of my first kitchen experiences at the James Beard Foundation was with Chef Jared Van Camp. Jared is the owner of Nellcôte, a beautiful farm to table/european influenced/Chicago restaurant.

Jared and his team executed a Bohemian European dinner at the JBF house last October, and I remember asking Jared three things while mincing parsley: why do hominy grits look like corn on steroids? where do you go to get a good pizza in Chicago, and “who’s Michael White?”

I laugh today because I’ve learned so much since my stage in October and was ecstatic when Jared invited me to Nellcôte for dinner during my trip to Chicago.

Nellcôte
833 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607
312.432.0500


 

AMBIANCE: When I walked past the revolving doors to Nellcote, my jaw dropped. Where am I? France? Heaven? It felt like I was taking a vacation from my vacation.

Well, I found out that the design inspiration is based on the Côte d’Azur villa where the Rolling Stones once recorded an album, and after working with Jared in NYC, this makes sense.

SERVICE: As I looked around the room I saw beautiful girls covering their tables and greeting guests with smiles. Their vibe was welcoming, friendly and just the right amount of modesty to make Nellcôte chic and elegant.

DINNER: The menu is divided by four categories: Cocktails, Pasta, Kitchen & Pizza. Initially I was just going to have a pizza but I decided to try one item from each category…

  • TEQUILA: I’m not a big drinker, but this drink was smooth, flavorful and refreshing. I loved the hints of lemon and cardamom with each sip. Gladly would’ve have another round, or two
  • CHILLED SQUID INK STROZZAPRETI: When I took the first bite I immediately recognized the homemade strozzapreti (wonderful texture)! Overall the dish was light and packed with flavor (spicy & citrusy with hints of basil)
  • WOOD GRILLED HEAD ON PRAWNS: I don’t know what they char their prawns with but they were phenomenal! After finishing the dish, I looked down and saw nothing but clean shells on my plate… and if you’re the type that gets squeamish about head-on prawns, you could try their Wood Grilled Chicken instead
  • SPICY N’DUJA PIZZA: My culinary vocabulary increased in Chicago because I was told Spicy N’Duja is best described as a spreadable house-made salami. I was definitely surprised by all of the flavors in the sauce, but I was most impressed with the crust! Nellcôte mills their own flour in-house, and their pizza may be my favorite in all of Chicago. Looking back I wish I had ordered a simple margherita pizza because you don’t need to add a ton of flavor on pizza when it’s already delicious.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Tweet while you eat! Nellcôte welcomes their guests to use social media while dining and will RT you with a special message if you tag them in your post!
  • Dining on a budget?  Take advantage of their Savant Special by ordering a Beer & one of their Fork & Knife Pizzas for $10.00!

THANK YOU FOR DINNER JARED! Nellcote is on my permanent must-visit places in Chicago from now on!

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