Recently River North has become a plethora of dining meccas. It seems each lately a new place has been opening up. After a while, all the flatbreads and nachos all blend together. Each place has a gimmick of its own, designed to catch the attention of the diner and party goer.
The other day we were given a real treat. We got a chance to try some of the yummies and get a sneak peek at River North’s next hot spot. Noveau Tavern gives foodies a twist on Southern New Orleans cuisine. Chef Norman Hargrove, formerly of the Peninsula learned about Cajun when he was working at the Mariott in New Orleans. But don’t be fooled, Hargrove is definitely the one in command when it comes to the kitchen. “I treat the kitchen like its my own restaurant.” he laughed when we visited the establishment last week. Right now the restaurant is in the soft open phrase, with the club opening on Halloween officially. Norman has definitely made the rounds from DC and back around to Chicago. He was pleased to give us a sample of the food to come from Noveau.
Things started to kick off with a delicious caesar salad, chock full of grilled chicken , garnished with cheese, and dusted with a delicious vinagrette. The wings proved to be something extraordinary though. It must be the sauce in most cases, it was in this one. The sauce was truly original . It had a zesty but sweet taste at the same time.Norman explained that it was a mixture of Asian and chili. The honey neutralized the cayenne pepper making even people who can’t stand the heat able to much on these wingies.
Our next dish was the totally amazing crawfish fritters. The fried delights resembled the common Southern delight, hush puppies. But these were so much more. They were accompanied with a lemon cayenne mayo dip. With their tempura coating, each fritter was stuffed with pieces of crawfish. It was like eating tiny little lobsters. Definitely something to write home about.
Meat seems to just fall off the bone, like it did with the pork chop we were served. The pork chop was accompanied with macaroni and cheese, greens, and red eye gravy.The greens didnt disappoint at all and the greens were not too spicy. The crowning glory was the red eye gravy. It made me smack my lips and say “more please.”
The perfect ending to a perfect meal was a complete surprise. Chef Norman proudly paraded in a skillet filled with an apple cobbler that was piping hot. It was cooled down by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. With its aromatic smell, it was obvious that autumn has arrived. It made me homesick for the fall tastes of Ohio.
I would say that if you love the South and all things Cajun, run right down to 358 W Ontario . But a warning , be prepared for long waits when the place kicks into full swing next week. This is gonna be the next big thing.