Chicago’s Connections, Hops & Harvest and Exhilarating Organics

Chicago stands tall as a summer travel option, thanks to draws such as Grant Park, Lake Michigan and the music scene on Rush Street. It’s also one of America’s great food cities. Looking beyond the hot dog and Italian beef sandwich, I visited two of the Windy City area’s best restaurants, both with ties to local eateries.

You probably know chef Jean Joho from his Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris, but his flagship, Everest (440 S. La Salle St., 312-663-8920), atop the Chicago Stock Exchange, is one of America’s best. The chef serves classic French food in an elegant, minimalist setting, with bird’s-eye views of the Chicago skyline. Many dishes, such as an amazing cabbage soup with slices of buttery-soft smoked sable, and bacon-wrapped fresh sturgeon, have touches of Alsace, the chef’s native province in France.

Michael Morton, of the famous Morton’s restaurant family, owns La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, and the hot new La Comida Downtown. But his older sister, Amy, is running an outstanding new restaurant in suburban Evanston, Illinois, home to Northwestern University.

That would be Found (1631 Chicago Ave., Evanston. 847-868-8945). Morton and her chef, St. Paul, Minnesota-native Nicole Pederson, a protégé of Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson, are running a madhouse, always abuzz, full every night. And the food is terrific.

You’ll sit on reclaimed furniture in the front, at the bar where patrons are lined up three deep or in the back, in a library room framed by floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Wherever you end up, nosh on fare such as salmon escabeche with purple asparagus, lamb meatballs with chimichurri, and top-notch charcuterie and cheese, served on a chef’s board. Book my flight.

Things here aren’t slowing down a bit. Bradley Ogden has just opened Hops & Harvest at Tivoli Village (to be reviewed in the upcoming weeks), and chef Jet Tila (Wazuzu) is back with a great new concept, Kuma Snow Cream (3735 Spring Mountain Rd.), serving shaved ices in a number of flavors, with a riot of toppings from Gummi Bears to green-apple jelly. Tila created the ice himself, made with a touch of dairy, after a year’s research. I smell a franchise.

An organic juice bar called [Ig-zil-uh-reyt]—or “exhilarate,” get it?—has opened inside Trish & Ed’s Organics in Colonnade Square at Pebble Road and Eastern Avenue. Organic juices and smoothies are prepared in a creative manner. How does No. 1, (mint, cucumber, collard greens, lemon, blueberries and cocktail fruit) strike you? Or No. 6 (dandelion greens, blackberries, cara cara orange and Desert honey)? More information is available at

Finally, I was at Williams-Sonoma in Summerlin where I met college teacher and cookbook author Kelly Cooper, whose Cookies for Grown-Ups (Red Rock Press, $24) has a number of killer recipes for sweet and savory cookies. Her Refrescante (cornmeal, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese and jalapeño peppers) is one of the world’s great cocktail snacks.

Hungry, yet?

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