I could not wait to taste the new seasonal offerings at Niche this last week. Chef Serena Perdue did not disappoint! Her farm fresh to table and truly gourmet offerings had my taste buds in a tither. Since fine dining is at a premium in the western suburbs, Niche will definitely be my go-to place for that special occasion or to show off to my foodie friends.
We started with compressed watermelon – you ask, what the heck is that? Well, it was a perfectly cut piece of watermelon compressed with Banyuls vinegar, and seasoned with pineapple, basil, avocado, lime, cucumber and mint (pictured above). While most of the ingredients did not come from Niche’s own farm located in Elburn, the cucumber, mint and basil were hand picked that day for freshness. This was so refreshing and such an explosion of flavor on a muggy evening.
We followed this with a couple of appetizers - one being a warm tomato tart made with concasse’ tomatoes and creamy smooth buratta, with a little side of tomato jam and topped with Wisconsin Parmesan, fresh arugula and an herb vinaigrette – an artistic twist on a Caprese salad; the second appetizer was a foie gras topped zucchini toast (which tasted somewhat like my favorite zucchini bread) with some fresh apricot , apricot puree and walnut oil - this paired with a 2008 Bonny Doon “Vinferno” white blend was total bliss.
I know I have bragged about the service and attention all guests receive at Niche, but I must make mention of it again. The staff is so professional, yet friendly and knowledgeable about all of the offerings.
We then moved on to our main course of a perfectly tender and juicy pork loin piece served with the most delicate spaghetti squash I have ever tasted, accompanied by the tiniest of baby summer squash and stuffed zucchini blossoms – I don’t know how Chef Perdue was able to stuff those tiny Zucchini blossoms with a mixture of goat and mascarpone cheeses - it was like eating doll food! We also enjoyed a delicately smoked and then grilled hanger steak accompanied by a croquette, roasted beets and apple paired with a 2002 Pillar Rock Stag’s Leap District cab that was outstanding. I especially enjoyed a 2001 Boony Doon Le Cigare Volant, Rhone Blend.
As satisfied as we were with our meals, we had to try the praline bar. The sound coming out of my mouth upon tasting the unexpected crunch with the silky chocolate layers prompted everyone around us to say “I’ll have what she’s having”! The special treat of a 1908 Madiera Boal topped of the perfect evening.