My wife and I have been two of the biggest booster of the Dining Room at Kendall College in Chicago. we have called it a "hidden gem" among Chicago restaurants, urged the city's major restaurant critics to take it seriously and insisted it has five-star quality, that it is very underrated and every bit as good as the more publicized and more expensive and elite dining establishments such as Spiaggia, believe it or not. If you don't, try it for yourself, lunch or dinner. The pre-fixe ($18 per person) lunch is unbeatable. And the truth is Kendall keeps getting better and bettr. we went this week to sample Kendall's new menu. The student staff has produced another winner. The thing you like about Kendall is the professionalism and enthusiasm and energy you experience from the time you pick up the phone to make a reservation to the minute you walk in the door to the second you leave the room after enjoying a three-course meal. We got an added treat, our waitress Jena. Her family owns one of the top restaurants in Chicago, Gene and Georgetti's, and she is preparing to join the family business. Like the other students in the program, Jena is learning all aspects of the restaurant trade...cooking, serving, bartending, managing. As patrons, we enjoy watching the process evolve. The new menu of eight appetizers, eight entrees and five desserts gives diners a wide range of choices and tastes, something for everybody. My wife chose Parisienne gnocchi/pan roasted spring mushrooms/fiddlehead ferns/toasted almonds/green garlic pesto for an appetizer, pan roasted Indiana shrimp/pistachio pesto/pickled green salad/browned artichokes/polenta for an entree and bittersweet chocolate and peanut tart/peanut butter ice cream/cocoa nib nougat/sea salt caramel sauce for dessert. I opted for smoked Great Lakes trout/beets/mache/preserved lemon creme fraiche/olive oil cracker for an appetizer, grilled hangar stead/red wine, bacon and mushroom sauce/wilted arugula/celery root puree for an entree and sour cream sorbet/brown sugar toffee sauce/fresh strawberries/snickerdoodle for dessert. Looking for something else? Maybe roasted lamb meatball or La Quercia prosciutto or Quenelle of Alaskan wild salmon or English pea soup or crispy fried calamari for an appetizer. Or spinach ravioli with artichokes and mascarpone cheese or pan seared Alaskan wile halibut or pan roasted duck breast or grilled lamb chops or crispy pressed pork for an entree. Or carrot, coconut and pistachio cake for dessert. All for $36 for two. Jena may not agree. But you'd be pressed to get a better bargain at Gene and Georgetti's.
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