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Nothing but Nellcôte

Chicago’s Randolph Street has welcomed new kid Nellcôte to the block, yet another unique dining option for the city’s most forward-thinking foodies.

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Photo Courtesy: Potluck Creative

Named after the 16-room villa in France, the Windy City version of this European mansion includes some of the same luxurious benchmarks, such as marble flooring and wrought-iron gating in the entryway and lavish crown molding throughout. The seating options are diverse and plentiful in this spacious corner-plot restaurant; from high-top tables, to banquettes, to bar-seating, and couches, there literally is not a bad seat in the house.

Photo Courtesy: Potluck Creative

Once settled in, it is recommended to enjoy a drink; as they actually are prepared in the kitchen, where there is a line specially devoted to crafting creative cocktails. Each beverage choice is named after the main ingredient: rum, gin, vodka, to name a few, so there is something for everyone. Best part? The cocktails max-out at an unpretentious $10 a piece. Cheers to that.

Courtesy: Potluck Creative

The star of the show for me was the food, Chef Jared Van Camp’s “obsessively house-made” fare. What exactly does that mean? Let’s put it this way: Van Camp mills his own flour daily and sources the restaurant’s product exclusively from the Midwest. While I didn’t think I’d be able to tell the difference, everything I tasted was remarkable and memorable.

My meal started off with a “fork & knife” buffalo mozzarella pizza. This paper-thin pie with sweet tomato sauce, fresh hunks of mozzarella, basil leaves, and a bubbly crust took me straight back to Italy. This was quite possibly the best Neapolitan pizza I’ve had in the states.

Photo Courtesy: Emily Belden

Moving on to the small plates, there was plenty from which to choose – from rabbit to a squab to risotto and several more. I selected the shaved asparagus salad to be good and the foie gras ‘torchon’ to be bad. Both were beyond pleasant and a decent-size sharing portion for two. Again, everything was priced fairly with nothing over $15 a plate.

Knowing they make their own flour, I had to cap off the meal with one of their fresh-from-scratch pastas. The portion size and flavor of the orecchiette with braised octopus and white beans was spot-on; one of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time.

Photo Courtesy: Potluck Creative

All in all, for a spot that has everything – great food, creative drinks, an awesome atmosphere, and a prime location – the only thing Nellcôte is lacking is a high brow and a high price tag. And you know what? I’m more than okay with that.

By Emily Belden

Emily Belden

everyone's favorite no-one | nerd trapped in a cool kid's body | writer, blogger | cooler online than in real life | doesn't come home to stuffed animals |

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