Perennial Virant: It's What's In Season

August 12, 2012

For the culmination of my birthday dining engagements, my family and I headed to Lincoln Park's Perennial Virant. On this occasion, we were celebrating my mom's and my birthday together. I had recommended Perennial Virant to my family after reading several favorable reviews of the restaurant and enjoying meals at other restaurants in the Boka Restaurant Group. The food at Perennial Virant is seasonally-focused, so much so that the menu can change each day. The fact the restaurant is situated directly across the street from Chicago's Green City Market, is no coincidence. Many dishes feature locally-sourced ingredients, many of which come directly from Green City Market. Chef Paul Virant, a self-proclaimed "preservation guru" and his team at Perennial Virant truly focus on creating dishes from quality ingredients that showcase what is in season.

We began our meal in a cozy booth near a window, affording us a view of the gorgeous patio in front. The atmosphere is definitely classy with accents of wood and gray hues.

Main Dining Room at Perennial Virant
After ordering a few glasses of wine, we decided to split two salads to begin our meal. The first was a salad of local tomatoes served with slices of melon, pickled sweet onions, jalapeno, lemon, olive oil, basil and mint. The acidity of the tomatoes and lemon was pleasantly paired with the sweetness of the menu and heat from the pepper. The salad was extremely refreshing and packed a spicy punch, which I loved. This dish was easily our family's favorite of the evening!

Salad of Local Tomatoes and Melon, Sweet Onions, Jalapeno Pepper, Lemon, Olive Oil, Basil, Mint

The second salad we split was a summer beans salad with peaches, grilled fennel and pickled herbs, all tossed in a creamy almond dressing. I thought this salad was tasty, and I really enjoyed the peaches, but it didn't compare to that wonderful tomato salad. However, I did enjoy how both salads featured pickled ingredients, Paul Virant's specialty.

Salad of Summer Beans, Peaches, Grilled Fennel, Pickled Herbs, Creamy Almond Dressing
 Before we knew it, we were headed into the main course. My dad, a big meat-eater, chose the pork chop for two. Yes, for two. It was just enough for his appetite and certainly not big enough for two people to split. He really enjoyed the mix of spices on the pork, as well as the peach and jalapeno chutney on top. The pork chop was served with a side of collared greens which we all tried but had to put down because they were so bitter.

Pork Chops, Slow-Cooked Collards, Peach & Smoked Jalapeno Chutney
 My sister opted for the lamb chop served with chickpea fritters, grilled and pickled cauliflower, curry yogurt, cucumbers and mint. She felt the flavor of the lamb was a bit on the bland side, but the accompaniments were tasty, especially the cauliflower, another nod to Virant's passion for pickling. Both the pork chop and lamb chop came from Slagel Family Farm in Fairbury, IL, a central Illinois farm you will see on many menus across Chicagoland.

Grilled Lamb Chop, Fried Chickpea Panise, Grilled & Pickled Cauliflower, Curry Yogurt, Cucumbers, Mint
 My mom and I both tried the grilled rainbow trout which was served skin-up on a bed of roasted broccoli, kohlrabi (a type of root vegetable), hush puppies and marinated eggplant. The fish had the freshest taste imaginable and separated from its skin at the poke of a fork. I loved the hush puppies which were pleasantly sweet, in contrast to the roasted broccoli. The marinated eggplant added a blast of flavor to the flaky fish.

Rainbow Trout, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Hush Puppies, Marinated Eggplant (thank you Instagram)

Dessert Menu
Last but not least, it was time for dessert, handcrafted by pastry chef Elissa Narow. Since we couldn't decide on just one for the table, we chose two delicious options. The first was a baked chocolate mousse topped with what seemed like a type of sorbet. The chocolate flavor was intense, rich, and flavorful, however, the mousse itself was a tad on the dry side. The moisture from the sorbet alleviated some of that, but we felt it was a little odd to have crushed sorbet on top.

The second dessert was a peach tiramisu which arrived in a cylinder shape with mascarpone mousse, ladyfinger sponge, bourbon peaches, cherries and a dollop of peach sorbet on top. I enjoyed the light texture of the tiramisu especially when combined with the house-made peach sorbet. Overall, we found the desserts to be a bit too small for sharing, however they both made for a sweet ending to our meal.

Peach Tiramisu with the Baked Chocolate Mousse Peeking in the Background

Slightly better view of both birthday desserts
 At the end of our meal, Chef Paul Virant was kind enough to take a break from the kitchen and stop by our table. I was impressed he was able to take time out of what must be a very hectic kitchen to chat with our family about our meal. This made for a memorable birthday dinner and a dining experience I won't soon forget!

Chef Paul Virant & Me
Perennial Virant gets 4 stars for their classy atmosphere, flawless service, a local and seasonal focus, and a passion for the highest quality ingredients available!

Perennial Virant
1800 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Perennial Virant on Urbanspoon


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  2. The salad and the peach tiramisu looks appealing. The last time I ate something like that was during our company Christmas party. I actually asked the name of the caterer because the dishes was all delicious!

  3. Yeah, I've heard a lot good feedback on Perennial Virant. My friend who is residing in Chicago promised to take me there when I got for a visit. Those pork and lamb chops looks divine.

  4. You should check it out Connie! I believe they are starting brunch service too!


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