Chicago’s reputation as ground zero for the molecular gastronomy movement overshadows the fact that it’s one of the best places in the country to score traditional high-end cuisine. Â And while classic spots like Charlie Trotter’s and Spiaggia still shine brightly, a new chef, Christophe David of NoMI, is leading the latest charge of haute, seasonally focused cooking in this city.
David grew up working the lines at Michelin three-star French cuisine palaces like Taillevent and Lucas Carton, and cooked with one of France’s greatest chefs, Paul Bocuse. Â He honors that past with his attention to detail at NoMI, including serving gold leaf-flecked fudge mignardise and cooking up hearty sides dripping with mascarpone, cream and truffle oil. Â And when the warmer months require lighter fare, David’s vision shines in the form of frothy cold watermelon soup, perfumed with star anise, micro basil, dots of vanilla and a swirl of Banyuls vinegar, or langoustine risotto kissed with sweet corn foam.
Q. What do you wish you could change or pickle and preserve about the Chicago restaurant or food scene?
A. Being French, I respect the cultural diversity of restaurants that Chicago cultivates. Â I hope that Chicago continues to be an international dining destination that allows foreign chefs to flourish and contribute to the culinary bounty of the Midwest.
Q. What would your last meal be?
A. Kobe beef rossini with Perigord truffle sauce, preferably at the New York Grill on the 80th floor of Park Hyatt Tokyo, overlooking Mt. Fuji.
Q. Where do you eat or drink before or after a shift?
A. During the summers, I enjoy visiting the Green City Market for fresh fruit crepes in the morning. Â I also enjoy the occasional beer in NoMI’s garden after service or sometimes smoking a cigar at the Whiskey on State Street.
Q. What’s the can’t-miss dish at NoMI?
A. The new lobster carpaccio that is part of the fall menu. Â The lobster is drowned in sake and sliced thin, and served with yuzu-infused terrine. Â It’s the NoMI team’s favorite new dish.
Q. What should we know about NoMI that we probably don’t?
A. The name NoMI is short for North Michigan because the restaurant overlooks this well-known avenue from its seventh-floor perch in the Park Hyatt Chicago. Â NoMI is not a fusion restaurant, but a contemporary French restaurant with a sushi counter. Â in addition to the main dining room there are three other distinct spaces, including NoMI Garden in the summer; NoMI Lounge, which serves cocktails and tapas-style food, and three different private dining rooms, each with their own separate ambience.
NoMI; 800 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago (312) 239-4030