Michigan Avenue denizens and shoppers, rejoice!
NoMI (800 N. Michigan Ave.; www.nomichicago.com )the upscale dining destination located at the Park Hyatt Chicagohas reopened after a hiatus of five months. The reopening is connected to the debut of the hotel's $60-million transformation project that encompassed guest rooms and suites, the lobby, The Library, art program and destination spa.
NoMI (named after North Michigan Avenue, and which has its own elevator that leads to the seventh floor) offers many things, including sweeping views of Michigan Avenue and the Streeterville neighborhood as well as, of course, its famed cuisine and impeccable service. (By the way, the views aren't limited to indoors, as there is the open-air terrace known as the Garden.)
Executive Chef Terence Zubieta offers modern American cuisine based in French techniques. There aren't many items on the menubut you better believe that what is there is prepared very well. Appetizers include chevre and herbs; duck rillette with duroc pork, roasted garlic, pickled apple and sourdough; Prince Edward Island mussels; a Park Board, with charcuterie; and a delectable octopus carpaccio, although the kick took me by surprise.
I opted for a citrus salad. It was as complex and tasty as I expected, with fennel, bitter greens, herb chevre and, of course, the fruitsall topped with a white wine vinaigrette.
Entrees are mostly meat- or fish-forward, although there is a mushroom option. My friend went with the scallops (with roasted corn, patty pan squash, baby tomato and pistou) and enjoyed herself immensely. I also really enjoyed my pork chop. However, don't expect a huge Berkshire pork chop but a delicately sliced (and perfectly sauced) version that befits NoMI.
And please don't skimp on dessert. Enticing choices include mango entremet (with mascarpone mousse, mango pudding and much more) and passionfruit creme brulee, but we went with two other items: My friend ordered the chocolate banana noisette, an exquisitely decorated creation that included a chocolate wafer with the NoMI logoand it tasted as good as it looked. I had the chocolate tres leches cake; this actually wasn't quite as moist as most tres leches slices I've sampled and the accompanying ice cream became its saving grace. (However, it's possible the pastry sous chef didn't want the cake to be too moist for fear for coming apart too easily with the ice cream, but that's just speculation.)
I mentioned the service. Attention was paid to every detail. When my dining companion mentioned she has celiac disease, the server (Michael) was get her gluten-free bread (as the cutest loaves I've ever seen).
And if that's not enough, guests can experience an exclusive six-seat sushi counter in the NoMI Lounge and dine on fresh fish flown in from Japan and a unique, yet refined culinary experience.
Now, as you can imagine, all this incredible comfort comes at a priceliterally. The octopus carpaccio is $30 and the pork chop is at a wallet-dropping $60. (Even a breakfast dish of free-range eggs, meat and herbed potatoes is $30.) I compare this to buying a Michael Kors sweater from Bloomingdale's and a generic one from Kohl's: Sometimes you pay for the nameand NoMI has quite the brand.
So do I recommend NoMI? Absolutelyyou're guaranteed to walk away with quite the impressions of the views, cuisine and service (and even some of the servers may warrant a second look). However, given the prices, some may want to save it as a special occasion.