Diners at new BYOB restaurant Goosefoot (2656 W. Lawrence Ave.) (Barry Brecheisen )
Some no-frills BYOB restaurants lack corkscrews and offer juice glasses to their wine-toting diners, and we love them all the same. But at Goosefoot (2656 W. Lawrence Ave. 773-942-7547), a new fine-dining destination in Lincoln Square, chef Chris Nugent serves forward-thinking tasting menus designed with great wine in mind, even though you have to bring it yourself.
Wine service was actually the very first order of business for Nugent when it came time to train the staff at his BYOB restaurant, and he and his wife Nina spent hours selecting stemware. They settled on the elegant (and titanium-reinforced) Schott Zweisel brand from Austria, and also provide decanters, filters and even wine coasters so bottles can rest comfortably on the table without drips.
As a veteran of downtown stalwart Les Nomades, Nugent is an expert on the proper wine experience, and it shows. He says he felt “honored” by the special bottles that customers brought during the restaurant’s first week open in December, and he even has guests sign a designated wine book, detailing what they brought and what courses they paired their special bottle with.
So if you have a bottle at home that’s been awaiting just the right occasion, a dinner at Goosefoot could be it. The current eight-course tasting menu ($90) features seasonal delights: alba mushrooms, chestnut soup, local root vegetables, roasted quail and pumpkin. Nugent plans to change the menu seasonally, and will also add a twelve-course menu ($140) in late January or early February.
Of course, not everyone has the wine know-how (or cash or patience) to curate a cellar of aged bottles at home, but that shouldn’t prevent you from dining at Goosefoot. With some extra thought, you can buy a bottle or two that will harmonize with the food. For the current menu, Nugent and his service captain Chris Cristino have listed suggestions on the restaurant’s web site, goosefoot.net: a blanc de noir sparkling wine or champagne would sing with the lobster course and the loup de mer (sea bass) with its bright hints of meyer lemon, and both white and red burgundies (chardonnay and pinot noir, respectively) are also food-friendly choices.
Still stumped? Nearby shop Provenance Food & Wine (2312 W. Leland Ave. 773-784-2314) has suggestions on hand for Goosefoot’s latest menu. As their stock of bottles changes often, the wine brains there recommend focusing on strategies—even regions—rather than specific brands. As is often the case with tasting menus, selecting wines with high acid, good fruit, but low oak and tannin is a great tactic; such wines will carry you through the menu gracefully. Burgundy is a favorite region of the Provenance gang as well as the chef; cool-climate California (such as Mendocino and Sonoma Coast), Oregon, and Alsace are great territories to explore as well. For locavores, try Circa Estate and Domaine Berrien from Michigan. Since you’ll want to make your reservation at Goosefoot in advance, you should have plenty of time to pick the perfect bottle.
Tips for tipping
Goosefoot does not charge a corkage fee, but as always with BYOB restaurants, it is appropriate to augment the tip as if alcohol had been part of the tab. When the beverage service is this comprehensive and attentive, this reminder is doubly important.
More high-end BYOBs
2419 W. 14th St. 312-226-8144
Philip Foss dreams up a seasonal fifteen-course tasting menu ($135) in a near west side kitchen space with 16 seats. Reservations are doled out by lottery only for Wednesday through Saturday nights. The atmosphere feels more “dinner party” than structured fine dining; the small staff and interactive menu contribute to the lively atmosphere and the restaurant’s music playlist changes as often as the menu. Expect seasonal ingredients rendered in surprising ways. No corkage fee.
2728 W. Armitage Ave. 773-486-7511
At this “underground” BYOB-turned-full-blown restaurant, diners choose an eight-course ($85) or thirteen-course ($150) menu. “No menu” Sundays are ideal for the adventurous. No corkage fee.
1466 N. Ashland Ave. 773-252-1466
Alinea vet Michael Carlson and his small team of chefs put out innovative, nine-course tasting menus ($110) featuring ingredients such as bottarga and veal heart. Reservations available by phone only, and we recommend persistence. Corkage is $2.50 per person.