Les Nomades chef Chris Nugent is so under the publicity radar that the only mainstream profile we could find of him was about how under the radar he is. But his talent has been acknowledged by both diners— as in yesterday's news about Les Nomades placing on Zagat's best restaurants list— and the industry— he was named a Rising Star by StarChefs in 2008. On the other hand, Les Nomades was pretty blatantly dissed by the Michelin Guide last year. Still, Nugent seems like somebody we should know about— and we're about to get a more affordable chance to do so.
After seven years of cooking exquisite contemporary French food in a dining space where you can reportedly get thrown out if you're talking too loud (at least that was true under founder Jovan Trboyevic many years ago), Nugent is leaving Les Nomades. He's heading up town to Lincoln Square to take over the space formerly home to Rendezvous Bistro at 2656 W. Lawrence, and opening Goosefoot. Although the name evokes something that would get chopped and put into stock in a classic French brigade kitchen, it actually refers to a family of wild plants (also known as lamb's quarters) which grow ubiquitously throughout Chicago. The name is a nod to Nugent's intention to cook by what's in season in the local farmers' markets.
Naming his restaurant for a weed doesn't mean that Nugent will be downscaling it, though— he plans to offer an 8-course and 12-course tasting menu for an anticipated $90 and $140 in the 36-seat space. But the restaurant will be BYO, putting Goosefoot in the same fast-growing high end-accessible category as places such as Schwa and EL Ideas. Lincoln Square, heavy on likable neighborhood restaurants, doesn't really have anything at the high end, so Goosefoot looks like it's found a smart niche to fill. Nugent hopes to open in November.
Les Nomades' Chris Nugent leaving to open his own restaurant [Chicago Tribune]