Wherewithall is a unique restaurant located in the heart of Avondale in Chicago. It's the newest sister restaurant of Parachute which comes from the creative mind of Chef Beverly Kim.
It's important to note that we decided last minute to venture to this restaurant therefore we made no reservation or preparation for this dining experience. Going to any restaurant on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday without a reservation can be a risky proposition in this town so we did not know what to expect. Parking was extremely easy to find, we parked right in front as a matter of fact making the start of this evening all the sweeter. When entering this unassuming location, we were greeted very warmly by the hosts. On the right was a bar where patrons were enjoying their drinks, the restaurant was located to the left of the entrance. When we notified the hosts that we did not have a reservation, they made the effort to accommodate us and seated us immediately.
Walking past the open kitchen, it was exciting to see how things were running. Extremely clean and well organized this restaurant does not boast or brag about what it is putting forth. We were seated at a cozy table, it did not offer much space, but was comfortable enough for just the two of us. Our waitress was not only knowledgeable about the food, but the wine as well. Being as food is one of our main passions, we decided to go for the entire tasting menu with wine pairing and cheese plate.
The tasting menu on its own is $65 per person. The wine pairing is an additional $45 per person and well worth the cost. Finally, the cheese plate was $12 per person bringing the total cost for 1 person to $122.
The high energy of our server was infectious. Once we placed our full order for the experience in, she told us that surprises were heading our way that were not on the menu. We could hardly wait!
The meal started with a lovely dish of radishes with a cheese foam. The earthiness of the radish paired beautifully with the sweetness of the cheese. It was not quite what we were expecting when she told us this was a radish cheese dish. The fact that they made the cheese into a foam was a pleasant surprise for many reasons. For one thing, the foam did not look like a foam at all, it looked more like a yogurt than a cheese but the moment you scoop it with the radish and place it to your mouth it hails from the land of light and delicious. Not only that, but it was also incredibly beautiful to look at.
Once we demolished this delectable treat, it was promptly cleared and moments later the next surprise arrived. A beautiful plate of fried potatoes, again with cheese, and an herb mayo. This dish felt a little one-note. Though it was lovely and tasty, it was not terribly unique especially given the previous dish. The cheese was not pungent enough to marry well with the mayo or the earthy flavor of the potato. It seemed just a bit excessive given the meal to come.
Finally, we were served a beautiful pork broth. Though slightly heavy, especially given the heft of the previous tasters, the dish itself developed as time went on. Served simply in a bowl to drink out of, the broth had a lovely depth of flavor the more you drank. It was curious enough to want to go back for more.
Once we were done with the broth, the first wine was served in anticipation of the first course. This wine was a lovely choice being a locally sourced wine from Michigan. The clarity was divine, and the purity of the grapes comes through. Marland was a lovely wine and paired brilliantly with our first course...mushrooms with cured egg yolk. This dish was not only beautiful to look at but the flavor was one of our favorites of the evening. In its simplicity, this dish highlights the complexity of mushrooms, the creaminess of the egg yolk and the cure that it is bathed in. The only thing this dish was missing was a bit of texture as the softness of the mushrooms paired with the cream of the yolk was a little one dimensional. But the flavors of this dish paired with the Marland Chardonnay was spectacular.
The second course was steelhead trout with skin on served skin side up. It was served over a beautiful sauce of huckleberries and braised cabbage. The red of the sauce truly popped against the silver of the trout. The first bite truly showcased the sweetness this amazing fish. Keeping the skin on added not only a richness to the dish but a depth of flavor that gave this dish a truly three-dimensional flavor profile.
Next we had the duck. Typically, it's not one of my favorite meats to eat. However, this duck was paired with chervil and caramelized pineapple. This dish was lovely. It was paired with a non-filtered Riesling also locally sourced in the United States. The pairing was solid, not the best by far but a very interesting pairing with a heavier dish. The duck, in our opinion, was slightly too heavy after the previous courses and did not have enough combination of the duck with the pineapple. While still a good dish, it wasn't the one with a clear point of view.
Prior to our cheese plate and dessert we were offered a palate cleanser of shaved apple ice. It was cool and refreshing and cleared our mouths of the heavier items we had just consumed. The flavor was intense on the front end only and left no lingering effect which we enjoyed.
The cheese plate came next and offered 3 different cheeses and 2 pieces of thin, crisp bread along side a cranberry chutney. The cheeses were well chosen and the cranberry added a dynamic flavor that helped tone down the earthiness of the cheese and rather enhanced its nuttiness.
Finally, dessert came. This rice pudding was heavenly. By far one of the best desserts we've enjoyed in a long time, especially since we are baking snobs. The pudding was light, silky and surprising with a beautiful warm red apple compote in the center. It showcased the pure flavor of the apple and the savory nature of the rice. To top it off, the pistachio crumble on top elevated it to an extraordinary level. It brought back fond memories of cooking a rice pudding with my grandmother in Brooklyn, NY and all I wanted was to eat more and more and more.
Overall this restaurant was fantastic, nominated best new restaurant 2020 and we can see why. Definitely a repeat and we highly recommend going for anyone looking for an exciting experience.