Quince in Evanston — a worthy successor to a venerable predecessor

Grant Achatz is perhaps the most celebrated chef in Chicago and across the Midwest these days. His restaurant Alinea and Next are consistently on the culinary frontier. But before he achieved all this fame, he was cooking, and getting lots of attention, at a restaurant in suburban Evanston called Trio.

Squid is a test for any restaurant to cook. Quince passed with flying colors.
Squid is a test for any restaurant to cook. Quince passed with flying colors.

Trio is long gone but in the space it once occupied now sits Quince, also an upscale eating establishment of some renown. I decided to take my wife there for her birthday dinner recently and we were very happy with the results. While not as gastro-wild as Achatz can be, the food was wonderful.

I began with the squid appetizer. Squid has become how I judge a good restaurant these days. When I was a kid, it was a dish limited to ethnic Italians and Greeks who knew how to get the most of of it. Growing up Italian-American, I was very familiar with it as a kid.

These days, it seems to be in every white table cloth place we visit. So I challenge the chefs to bring it, squid is very difficult to cook and to make tender.

Quince’s squid was delicious, served with a banana blossom salad, garlic and a little chipolte for heat. I’m not a fan of spicy food, but the chipolte did not overwhelm here.

I had the barramundi, delicious. The sear was perfect. The accompaniments heightened the flavor of the fish.

The sear was perfect, the plate wonderfully artistic.
The sear was perfect, the plate wonderfully artistic.

Our dessert was creative and tasty, and not something on the menu on its website. I’d call it a deconstructed chocolate cake, starting with a chocolate mousse and followed by bits of cake crumbled on the plate. The mousse was lusciously rich. I would ask for this again next time we go.

I loved the chocolate mousse that started this cake plate.
I loved the chocolate mousse that started this cake plate.

Because this was a special meal, I wasn’t paying as much attention as usual to salt content, although I did ask all my dishes be made without added salt.

This is a wonderful special occasion restaurant, it was nice to see that the suburb we live in still has such a special place to dine.

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