Everest is a mainstay in Chicago’s fine dining scene. This Alsatian restaurant, located in the southern part of the Loop neighborhood. Everest earned its first Michelin Star in 2011 (the first year Michelin visited Chicago) and has kept their single Star ever since. Chef Jean Joho opened Everest in 1986, but it took us until last week to try it.
Everest has been on our list for quite a while. We love French food and we don’t get a chance to sample Alsatian food very often. I booked our reservations about three weeks out, through Opentable, without problem. We snagged a prime reservation at 20h00.
The day of the meal, we arrived right at 20h00 and were immediately escorted to a waiting area that reminded me a lot of a small break out room at a conference hotel. The room had those moveable walls so you can adjust its size. There were three tables in this area, 2 two-tops and a four-top. Techichally we didn’t have anywhere to sit, because the two people at the four-top were sitting in seats one and three. We asked them if we could sit with them, but they didn’t move, so we sat between them. It was awkward.
We ordered a drink in this holding area and watched as all the others near us were moved into the dining room. Another couple, from Toronto, joined us for a drink. At 21h00 we were brought to our seats – yes, one hour after our reservation. I was frustrated and starving.
Everest offers both a tasting menu and an al a carte menu. The tasting menu didn’t really appeal to me as there were two of the seven courses that I would have eaten, but wouldn’t order on their own (Foie Gras and Pheasant). We opted for the a la carte option.
When exploring the tasting menu, you can add optional wine pairings. With the a la carte menu, we just asked the server to select three wines for our four course dinner. We decided to have two starters and a main, followed by a shared cheese course and then ultimately the dessert.
I started out with the Atlantic Oysters then moved into the Everest Roasted Lobster – a dish on which the menu claims Everest has built its reputation. Mike also chose a Everest Signature entree – the Sole Meunière.
We enjoyed our food at Everest, but were really put off by the extremely long wait we had until our table was ready. Then the waiting just continued. It took us a while to get menus, then finally to place our orders. Once that was all done, the kitchen kept everyone on track. The food came out properly prepared and at the right temperature. It was clear the issues were at the front of the house. Two tables next to us had the wrong food delivered – our food was spot on from delivery to taste.
The decor was extremely outdated. It felt like we were in a scene from American Psycho – it felt very late 1980s or early 1990s. I was fully expecting Susan Sugarbaker to be dining at a table next to us — no such luck.
The patrons weren’t like those you see at other Michelin restaurants either. They all seemed very stiff and stodgy…except the table next to us. They were holding hands all through dinner, except when she’d step away to the washroom for 15-20 minutes at a time. We totally got the high-end pro and her John vibe from them. The other table right next to us had a woman and her recent college grad son. The son was explaining why pairing wine with food was stupid. We’ve all been there, a recent grad who knows EVERYTHING and anyone who offers guidance is dumb and stuck in the old ways. This was that guy.
I’m glad we visited Everest. We checked one of the most famous and long standing fine dining restaurants in Chicago. We have no plans on returning. The food was good, but everything else (decor, service and other patrons) all fell short on this dining experience. For $500 per couple, I’d rather enjoy fine dining at Next, Goosefoot or Grace (in Chicago, that is).
Have you been to Everest? Were you looking for Patrick Batemen too? What did you have? What did you love about your experience?