SR Dinner Date: Quince
You know what the end of summer means to us? No more pools, no more beaches, no more barbecues, no more summer parties where the kids stay up well past their bedtime. That’s right. It’s fall. It’s grown-up time. Go to bed, children, you’ve got school in the morning. We don’t. It’s Tuesday. That’s right, it’s Tuesday. We’ve got a sitter. We’re going out for dinner.
One of our favorite places to celebrate the changing of the seasons is Quince in Evanston. We’ve eaten there a handful of times since Executive Chef Andy Motto took over in 2009 (and well before that when it was Café Provencal and most famously Grant Achatz’s Trio), but our most recent visit was one of the best.
We opted for a gonzo tasting menu of our own devising, in that we ordered two appetizers and two entrées, then asked our waiter to have the chef send out two more apps and one entrée of his choosing. Why so greedy? To celebrate what the end of summer really means: the end of swimsuit season.
Which led to our first food choice of the evening: the pork belly. Crispy and tender, that delectable piece of goodness came with daikon, mustard, pickled ramp, black garlic, bee pollen, floral tea, and frisée.
The heirloom tomato Napoleon was summer on a plate, straight from the restaurant’s rooftop garden, where the tomatoes and basil were sourced. The Napoleon pastry housed tomatoes layered with goat cheese, a cherry tomato shared real estate with a delicious dollop of burrata cheese, and a basil reduction sealed the deal.
We loved Quince’s version of a stuffed squash blossom. The medley of chicken, basil, savory, pistachio, saffron, and artichoke was ethereal, as was the lobster accompanied by a potato bilini, caviar, an herb cake, and crab.
For entrées, we ordered the halibut and the pork, and the chef sent out the duck. All three were delicious and comforting, but here’s where the revelatory part came in. The lightness of the halibut was given a burst of richness with anchovy/garlic accents and a quail egg on top of gnocchi. The pork tenderloin came with tempura-fried peppers and elote, a spicy corn sauté that has its origins in Mexican street food. The duck came with a savory crepe, wild rice, and a rhubarb/cherry relish. Yum, yum, yum.
Finishing it all were two stellar desserts: a lemon verbena crème brulee and doughnuts with peaches, pecans, bleu cheese, and buttermilk ice cream.
Wine Director Scott Quint paired all that fabulous food with equally fabulous wines. Standouts were a refreshing, citrusy Italian Verdicchio, a dry Viognier from Languedoc, and a Spanish Montsant with a smoky, black-fruit character. Overall, the wine list is superbly curated, with a quality and quantity of options to suit any taste.
Quince is located in the old Homestead Hotel at 1625 Hinman Avenue in Evanston. For more information, call 847-570-8400, or visit quincerestaurant.net.