Oh no. We made this reservation two months ago and passed up Bulls playoff tickets for our much awaited dinner at Schwa with our good friend who was in town for the weekend. Four hours before our dinner time, our friend’s plane landed only to find out that the kitchen was out of order at Schwa and all reservations were canceled for the evening. What to do? Fortunately, Kate thought of Perennial and its exciting makeover involving the Michelin starred chef from Vie, Paul Virant, and quickly snagged a late reservation to save the night… well not totally… the Bulls still managed to get eliminated from the playoffs during our dinner.
Perennial Virant is located across from The Lincoln Park on Clark Street. The dining room had a very comfortable and casual feel with two long communal wood tables surrounded by more intimate booths. While we are not the biggest fans of communal dining, these tables were spaced out well enough to make our dining experience very comfortable. The modern yet rustic look made us feel like we were in a nice spacious neighborhood lounge rather than a fine dining establishment.
There are two basic options: the 37 dollar 3 course price fixe with 2 options each course or the small plates option similar to the menu at the Girl and the Goat, another restaurant owned by the Boka Restaurant Group. The small plates get progressively larger but never large enough to constitute an individual portion. Since there were four of us, we chose a few small plates to share. Our first plate was the Carnaroli Rice with local Brunkow Cheese Curds. The dish looked beautiful and had a nice texture to it but could have used a little more salt or pepper for my taste. This was followed by the Slagel Family Farm Pork Shoulder which was quite tasty but didn’t carry the falling off bone texture you typically expect with pork shoulder as it was compressed into a pork patty of sorts. The Wisconsin Morrels in Milk Jam were the highlight of the meal. They were extremely fresh and delicious!
We also enjoyed the perfectly seared scallops and the flavorful Rabbit Ballotine, although Kate opted out on the bunny. We tried the Chicken Fried Steak(beef provided by Wisconsin based Dietzler Farms), but we just couldn’t get into it like we had hoped as the crust wasn’t quite sufficient for the amount of meat it covered.
Considering that this restaurant had only opened four days before our meal, the kitchen and service did an outstanding job! The dishes were all very seasonal and composed of fresh local items, many of which were supplied by the farmers that regularly attend the Green City Market across the street in the park. Paul Virant certainly lives up to his reputation of using fresh, local ingredients. However, the portions of the shared plates were not much more that tapas size despite carrying a price tag of 8-27 dollars. Overall, we enjoyed our time a Perennial Virant, but will most likely try the prix-fixe menu on our next visit.
Perennial Virant | 1800 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago IL 60614 | 312.981.7070