Last chance for Kow Kow egg roll . . . or not?
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#1
Posted May 23rd 2011, 11:16am
I had a really enjoyable meal at Quince a couple weeks back. In fact, it's one I've been thinking about quite a bit since I had it. We were there on a Wednesday night; the night after a Stone Brewery dinner. I mention this because while some of the dishes in our 'ordered-in-advance' tasting menu came from Quince's regular menu, some were improvisations and riffs that incorporated ingredients that had been brought in for the brewery dinner with already exsiting menu items. Using my terrible memory, the printed menus I was given and a couple of on-line menus, I've tried to recapitulate the menu but some of the descriptions that follow might not be complete or entirely accurate . . .

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House-baked focaccia
It's always a treat to start out with house-baked bread and really, not enough places offer it. This was crusty, light and tasty.


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Iberico-Serano Ham | green and white asparagus, young garlic, pistachio, egg
A great combination with the egg, ham-wrapped asparagus bundles and braised pistachios, which were almost meaty.


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Lobster | Yukon Gold potato blini, caviar, herb cake, crab, Kaffir lime
A very well-executed pairing of luxury ingredients, including the dueling roes.


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Chef Motto's chopstick set
This very cool set, which I think chef purchased in Korea, was delivered to the table in advance of our next course.


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Spicy Chicken Spring Roll
I couldn't find this on any of the menus I referenced and I forgot the description that was given to us at the meal but it was really tasty, with moist, ground chicken that was pretty darned spicy. It could not have been cooked more perfectly. The wrapper was light and crispy.


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Wild Alaskan Halibut | farro, peppers, roe, mushroom, winter broth
I'm pretty sure that this halibut preparation is actually on Quince's current menu (in a slightly different form) with salmon instead of halibut. I thought the fish was really nicely cooked. It flaked easily into moist pieces. The broth, farro and other components were terrific and would have made a great dish on their own.


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Spicy Lamb Ravioli | Serrano ham, olive, basil, hazelnut, lavender
I absolutely loved this course. The lamb filling was essentially merguez and it brought some heat. The other elements, especially the broth, were intensely flavored and very enjoyable.


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Pork Belly | daikon, mustard, cippolini, black garlic, bee pollen, floral tea, frisee
Supremely crispy on the outside and tender and unctuous in the interior, this nugget of belly was pure delight. The pollen provided a really interesting flavor note, which lingered long into the aftertaste.


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Beef | bacon, cippolini, potato, horseradish, mushroom, spring peas, garlic, spinach and foie gras torchon
This crazy and awesome dish was just entirely over the top. When it arrived at the table, the first thing I said to my dining companion was that it didn't even need the beef. Sure enough, later on we were told that the tenderloin wasn't something that was normally on the menu but that it was in the house because of the previous night's dinner. I'm pretty sure the same is true of the foie. In any event, this plate was terrific. Not only was the beef tasty and cooked very nicely, but the slices of torchon added an additional level of compelling richness to the dish. The "bacon package" was actually a cippolini onion that had been cooked until sweet and soft, and filled with a mixture of potato puree and horseradish and then wrapped in bacon. That alone, along with the taut and crispy fresh peas, would have made for a substantial and successful course but I loved how this plate was built to pure excess mode.


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Vanilla Mascarpone Cheesecake | lemon sabayon, pistachios, blackberry sorbet
A great and refreshing first dessert. The cheesecake was dense enough to satisfy but wasn't overly heavy. The tart and sweet sorbet complemented it perfectly.


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Chocolate Crêpes | dark chocolate, white chocolate, candied lime zest, raspberry, chocolate ice cream
After the previous course, I was thinking that a little bit of chocolate would be a perfect end to the meal. Almost as soon as I thought it, this plate arrived and completely delivered on my "need" for chocolate. These tender and flavorful chocolate crepes, filled with white and dark chocolate, were sensational. I think the ice cream may have been another add-on. This really scratched the itch.


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Mignardise - Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cold Vanilla Milk
Ok, so we weren't quite done. This little "final" dessert was brought out. The cookies were delicious and the ice cold vanilla milk was a great accompaniment. I was extremely full and didn't finish either but it wasn't because they weren't great.

At the end of the meal we received 2 additional surprises. First, even though I knew that I wouldn't be paying (my friend was taking care of the bill to pay me back for another recent meal at which I treated), it turns out that our entire meal was comped. My friend does some occasional work for The Homestead (the hotel in which Quince is located). From time to time, he told me, they discount his tabs but he'd never had them take care of the entire bill. We didn't know exactly what to do and asked if we could pay. We were told that the "comp order" came from the top and that it was non-negotiable. So, we left a tip equal to about 50% of what the bill would have been and hoped it would be enough. I want to stress that I absolutely loved this meal and would have come here and written about it regardless of what we were charged. I felt no obligation to report other than that of wanting to share what I thought was a great dining experience -- the best one I can remember ever having at Quince...and I've had some great meals at Quince.

The second surprise was that chef Motto wasn't even in the house on this night. Our entire meal was prepared by Sous Chef Josef Dugolenski, who can really throw down. I am of the firm belief that a great chef doesn't need to be in the kitchen for that kitchen to turn out truly representative food. A great chef is a leader whose team can complete their mission with or without him or her. This is certainly the case at Quince, especially, it seems, with Mr. Dugolenski in the kitchen. Now clearly, many of the dishes we enjoyed were of chef Motto's creation but the execution of those dishes -- and the improvisations on them -- were all from the hand and mind of Mr. Dogulenski, and I'm delighted to have experienced his imagination so intimately and intensely on this particular night.

It had been a while since I'd been to Quince. The friend with whom I shared this meal had told me in advance that Quince was really doing some great things these days. He couldn't have been more accurate and I look forward to getting back there asap.

=R=

Quince (at the Homestead)
1625 Hinman Ave
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 570-8400
_______________________________________

That's a street taco. If you eat that one, you're practically begging to get sick --Tosh

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#2
Posted May 23rd 2011, 2:27pm
Great pics, Ron!

I'm trying to get all Evanston restaurants off my to-do list, and Quince is number one. I'm happy to see such a glowing review.
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DearestChicago on Twitter
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#3
Posted May 23rd 2011, 6:34pm
Quince is easily the finest dining in Evanston. I go as often as my budget allows. My most recent visit was just last Thursday, when Quince hosted a Zind-Humbrecht Alsatian wine dinner. The $75 for four courses with wine pairings for each course was a steal, especially considering how absolutely delicious each course was. We started with a poached egg, pistachio and asparagus wrapped in pasta course (a little similar to the Iberico ham course Ronnie had, but without the ham), followed by a fresh and spicy tuna sashimi course. The main event was a contemporary spin on a German classic - veal medallions cooked in schnitzel style, toped with spaetzle and served over red and white pickled cabbage. There was a very interesting rosewater-hibiscus foam accompaniment, served with touch of veal ragu too. The foam was almost too floral for the veal, but really brought out the flavors of the wine for this course, a pinot gris. The foie gras ice cream for dessert was just magnificent, served atop a crispy brioche, with dried cherries and pecans and a couple pieces of lychee gelee.
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#4
Posted May 24th 2011, 9:46am
Thanks Ron.

I just happen to be dinning there this weekend, I try to make it there at least once a year.
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#5
Posted October 17th 2011, 6:34pm
Quince is a restaurant that I've been wanting to eat at for the past few years, but has always escaped me when in the decision process (Dana has gotten more than her fair share of my, "Why don't you pick?" lines). Searching for a place to eat on gDine (discussed here), I was a little surprised to see Quince as one of their offerings. Realizing this was my moment, I made a reservation for two for later that night.

First impressions: beautiful space, but where is everybody? I know it was a Wednesday shortly before they closed for the night, but we were the only folks here
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It was actually a bit unsettling. I worried we weren't in the loop about something. Those worries soon washed away.

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Bread service was the same as Ronnie's (which is to say, it was delicious), but even the butter was impressive
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I know, it's just butter. But it wasn't. Nevermind.

Spicy Lamb Ravioli serrano ham, olive, basil, lavender, asparagus
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Not spicy. Smoky, had a southwestern taste to it. Delicious, but not spicy.

Pork Belly thai flavors, peanut, kafir lime, coconut, chili, herbs
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Holy hell, now THIS was spicy. Underneath that bone are about a hundred chili flakes waiting to attack my mouth. I'm not complaining - this dish was a 95 out of 100. Our waitress said there was a little kick, but this had me perspiring profusely after the second bite.

Duck savory crepe, wild rice, artichoke, rhubarb, cherry
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Dana's dish which I gladly ate half of. Maybe a bit more than half as Dana didn't enjoy the duck crackling (What's wrong with her?)
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Bass brussels sprouts, pancetta, black garlic couscous, curry-caper emulsion
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Dark Chocolate Fudgesicle elote, salted caramel, apples, concord grape sorbet
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Not a big fan of dark chocolate (too rich for me), but the sorbet was amazing and added a nice amount of bitter to balance out the fudgesicle.

Banana Bread "PB&J" pecan, concord grape, sweet potato, vanilla milk
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Made on a griddle, this was warm, sweet...amazing.
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housemade sweet potato chips were very good
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vanilla almond milk coated the banana bread and took this amazing dessert to even higher levels.

ronnie_suburban wrote:I had a really enjoyable meal at Quince a couple weeks back. In fact, it's one I've been thinking about quite a bit since I had it.
...
I look forward to getting back there asap.


I'm going to not only echo what Ronnie said, but go a step further and say this had been my most enjoyable meal of 2011. I will be back again. And again. Andagainandagainandagain.
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DearestChicago on Twitter
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#6
Posted October 17th 2011, 8:07pm
The food looks amazing. Nice to see that the location didn't tank after Trio dissolved.

And the chopsticks look very much like ones I bought in Cambodia -- beautiful, inlaid wood ends, plus the elephant motif for the holder.
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"A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things." Admiral Grace Hopper

http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
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#7
Posted October 18th 2011, 5:46am
We dined at Quince just this last Saturday night. I also had Spicy Lamb Ravioli, mine that night did have a nice spicy bite, I also had the Banana Bread "PB&J" for desert. My entree was a special that night, a beautiful Red Trout fillet with french fries, homemade pickles, and quail egg, the sauce was almost like mayonnaise and went really went well with the fish and fries.

Expertly prepared food along with great wine pairings made it one the best dinners I have had this year.
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#8
Posted October 19th 2011, 9:03am
Quince is planning a 4-course sake dinner November 4th which I hope to attend if my schedule allows:

http://edibleink.wordpress.com/2011/10/ ... at-quince/
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#9
Posted May 7th 2012, 9:47am
My wife and I had a really nice dinner at Quince last week. We started with a bone marrow brule and the baby octopus. For entrees we had a halibut dish and a duck breast. The meal was finished off with a cheese plate and sweet desert that I cannot remember. My simple descriptions don't do these dishes justice, though: all were interesting, complex, and very delicious. Service was outstanding.
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#10
Posted January 19th 2015, 4:55pm
I really and truly don’t get why this place doesn’t get more attention. It's been two years since there was a post in this thread, notwithstanding the uniformly positive (dare I say, enthusiastic?) reviews here. The Lovely Dining Companion and I had an truly excellent dinner there on Saturday and we concluded the meal sort of looking at each other and simultaneously asking, “Why don’t we come here more often?” With a $25-off certificate from restaurant.com, our bill was $120 before tip. For two apps, two entrees, two desserts, and two glasses of wine. Not to mention the best server I can recall having in a long time. (If you go, make sure Louis is there that evening.)

Last time we went, about three years ago, there was only one other table of two there. Making it kind of a strange dining out experience. This time, there were close to thirty folks in the room (it’s a small room, quite cozy—complete with working fireplace—and can probably only hold about forty). So someone knows about it. The menu is pretty brief, six apps, seven entrees—and they don’t even highlight the availability of a five-course tasting menu for $75—but if the choices suit your palate, I would urge you to get over there. We enjoyed a uniformly excellent meal with superb service for less than half the price of one person at Grace or Alinea. (No, it’s not in the same league, but I haven’t had better food at this price point in a very long time.)

Pardon the lousy pics; new camera and a much steeper learning curve than I thought. (And it doesn't help to follow incite's superb pix.)

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“Foie Gras beans, pistachio, brioche, blueberry”
I was instructed to break the toasted brioche bridge and mix everything together with the foie “custard” posing as soup in the bowl. A trifle salty but wonderfully rich and velvety.

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“Bay Scallops croquette, citrus, spiced cauliflower, fennel”
I cannot honestly report on this app or the bass entrée since they were LDC’s and I tasted neither. She was quite happy with both and reported herself very pleased at how well the different elements of both plates worked with and complemented each other.

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“Bass, sticky rice, coconut, dashi, chiles, mushroom”
As noted above, not much I can say except to reiterate how pleased she was with the entrée.

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“Venison juniper, beet, carrot, turnip, gnocchi”
Two good-sized hunks of venison cooked to a near-ideal medium-rare. Juicy, full of flavor. I’m not sure I particularly cared for the beet gnocchi (they seemed a little doughy to me and I’m not sure beet worked with venison for me) but I was even taken with the vegetable smears (and the correct word for that would be ?): one of carrot and one of kale and something else green that slips my mind. Both intensely flavored and nice complements. A few chunks of mushrooms, a few heirloom carrots…a wonderful entrée.

LDC chose a simple option: apricot sorbet. In our collective experience, there seem to be rather less than half the dessert chefs out there who know how to do a sorbet that actually tastes like something. They’re either delicious and well flavored or they’re weak imitations of what they should be. This was clearly in the former class.

Well, actually, not quite: the mignardises. There was a piece of brittle (sorry I didn’t catch what kind), a peppermint marshmallow, and a raspberry fruit gel (I guess the official phrase is pâte de fruits à la framboise). The brittle was really excellent and even the marshmallow, not one of my favorites, was remarkably light, not too chewy. Forgive me, but the fruit gel was a fruit gel. Can we all move on from fruit gels, now?

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Cheese course with garrotxa (right) and Finca pascualete (left)
I decided on the cheese course. Unfortunately, the menu online is not accurate. I chose a garrotxa (firm, nutty, goat’s milk) and Finca Pascualete (creamy, fairly mild sheep’s milk). I was learning to port (pun intended) but Louis recommended a glass of something called Black Noble from Australia. It’s 100% botrytised (hence the “noble”) semillon aged in oak for ten years. Think ruby port. Sort of. Rich tasting but surprisingly light. Reminiscent of a PX sherry. A real hit and ideal with the cheeses. They were served on a heavy hunk of granite along with Marcona almonds, raisins, a small chunk of honeycomb, some crackers, a preserved walnut, and a smear (there’s that word again) of golden raisin puree that was a real discovery.

(The preserved walnut was wholly new to me. Here’s what that purveyor to America, Zingerman’s has to say about them:
“One of the most interesting food finds of recent years. Small stands of walnut trees dot the mountainous Armenian landscape. In the fall farmers alight among the trees to gather the nuts when they’re still young and moist. They're bathed in barrels of spring water. Slowly, over weeks, their bitterness recedes. Cane sugar is added and cooked down to a sweet, thick syrup. They're slipped into jars and sent to us. This is an old method for preserving fruits and nuts — the process has a lot in common with marrons glacés and Elvas Portuguese sugarplums — and it’s extremely delicious when applied to walnuts. What you get is a tender crunch, firm flesh and a long-lasting caramel-tinged walnut flavor.”
Try ‘em if you can find ‘em. They’re wonderful on a cheese plate.)

The mignardises. There was a piece of brittle (sorry I didn’t catch what kind), a peppermint marshmallow, and a raspberry fruit gel (I guess the official phrase is pâte de fruits à la framboise). The brittle was really excellent and even the marshmallow, not one of my favorites, was remarkably light, not too chewy. Forgive me, but the fruit gel was a fruit gel. Can we all move on from fruit gels, now?

A note on the breads. There were three: a pretzel roll, a wheat brioche, and a focaccia. I only had the first two and the pretzel roll was fresh and warm and delicious. The broche was sad, old, dry, and warming didn’t rejuvenate it, it just dried it out more. LDC reports the focaccia was excellent so I guess I’ll take her word for it. Butter was herbed, I think, and warm enough to spread. That’s actually one of my pet peeves (serving butter that’s right from the fridge, hard enough that you need an ice pick for it) and I appreciated the spreadability factor.

It should be noted that the online menu is pretty close to what is being offered (though the cheese list is not). The by the glass wine list is completely out of date and for inexplicable reasons the rest of the quite substantial list is not posted (the links are all broken). I chose a Cotes du Rhone (Clos du Mont Olivet—a part of the Chateauneuf de Pape estate) to accompany my foie and venison.

Finally, a note on our server (Louis says the receipt). What a pro: he knew the menu backwards and forwards. He could talk about the elements and ingredients and when he didn’t know, he found out and came back to tell us. He knew the wines (at least those by the glass) extremely well and offered me tastes of the various finalists I had settled on. He was there when he was wanted or needed—not often—and left us alone otherwise. Plates appeared and disappeared when they were supposed to and with no fuss. He was friendly without being cloying and completely professional. A real pleasure.

We are very much looking forward to returning.

P.S. Two minor notes to the house: please proofread the menus and get rid of the typos and PLEASE update the website. While the menu page is current, many others--from the wine list to the staff picture--aren't. If you're going to bother to have these pages, which I for one found worth looking at, then find the time to keep them current.
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Gypsy Boy

"I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
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#11
Posted January 19th 2015, 6:04pm
Those looking for another reason to try Quince should note that Quince is participating in Chicago Restaurant Week 2015, January 30 through February 12. You can view their $44 three-course Restaurant Week menu here.
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