When I moved to Chicago’s North Shore 2 years ago, I had no idea that so many incredible restaurants existed. There are numerous establishments here that rival those in downtown Chicago, and tempting options are popping up on a regular basis.
One of the newest additions to the North Shore restaurant scene is Taste on Chestnut, who is celebrating their one year anniversary this weekend. I dropped in for one of their Taste on Taste sessions this summer, but amazingly have never dined here. I remedied that situation recently, and can’t believe that I was missing out on this incredible gem.
Taste on Chestnut is all about taste. This sounds like it should be a fairly obvious topic for a restaurant to focus on, but a surprising number of restaurants focus more on the presentation. Have you ever been to an upscale restaurant and walked away still hungry? When I have a meal, I want to walk away with my palate satisfied and that comfortably full feeling. Taste on Chestnut accomplished both, and so much more! Owner and expert Chef Steven Leviton is the mastermind behind this culinary experience, and his devotion to incredible quality and amazing taste shows.
The ambiance is warm, inviting, and almost home-like due to the three separate dining rooms that each offer a different feel. the Chestnut Room in the front is more of a bistro feel, with a spectacular bar lining the back wall. The Savory Room is a more interactive dining experience- the open-concept kitchen allows you to watch your food being prepped, cooked and plated. I bellied up to the cooking bar to watch the masters at work, and checked out all of the incredibly fresh ingredients that were soon to be used in my dishes. The Fireplace Room offers the comforts of home, with a real working fireplace and intimate atmosphere.
We started with an amuse bouche of calamari with a relish on the side than included mini heirloom tomatoes, dressed in balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. The calamari was perfectly cooked- crisp on the outside, tender and flavorful on the inside.
We then moved on to our main course; I ordered the Hoisin Steak Tacos with a Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Aioli. I didn’t expect a sweet spin on traditional Mexican street tacos to be on the menu, but I am so incredibly glad they were! The steak was unbelievably flavorful and tender, and the aioli added just the right touch of heat to balance the sweetness of the hoisin. Heaven.
I had to order a side of Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Bacon; every time I see brussels sprouts on a menu, I can’t resist! Tip- always order them extra crispy to bring out the flavor.
My husband selected the special that evening- Chilean Sea Bass. I was surprised because he is a “meat & potatoes” guy who is not a fan of any fish when I make it at home. Apparently I have zero talent cooking fish, and Taste on Chestnut nailed this dish! He took one bite and declared it the best fish he has ever tasted. This is big news for our family.
I can never resist dessert, and the waitress informed me that their award-winning chocolate mousse cake was from Gerhard’s in Lake Forest; this piece of art was almost too beautiful to eat!
Overall, the attention to detail was outstanding- for dishes to look as good as they taste is an incredible culinary feat.
I chatted with Steven for a bit, and he was enthusiastic and passionate about Taste on Chestnut. He perfected each dish as it came out of the kitchen, wiping a drip of sauce here and there. Check out his video from WCIU on how to cook one of their signature dishes, Tuscan Salmon!
Restaurants do come and go, but this is one that I expect to have staying power on the North Shore as long as Steven is in charge! If you want to check out Taste on Chestnut, they are hosting an anniversary special this weekend Thursday, Friday and Saturday: Four course prix fixe menu for $20.15! Make sure to call ahead for reservations (847-441-0134) because they will definitely be booked. You can see the menu here; I promise you won’t be disappointed!
As for the fashion portion, I wore this amazing leopard skirt that my friend Sonia recommended. Gals, this is THE skirt. First of all, the weight is amazing- it is a lovely heavier material that lays perfectly. The waistband is elastic, which is a MUST when you are planning a lovely night out for dinner. And the price? Under $20. Get it here.
I paired it with a black tie neck blouse and black patent leather high heels, a gorgeous clutch with my hair in a beautiful braid compliments of JOOJ Blow Dry. I added the Pivot Earrings from Park Lane Jewelry to complete the look!