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Mystery Diner: Resort’s chef cooks up fall flavors for Harvest

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 6:29 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 6:47 a.m. CST
Caption
(Kane County Chronicle photo)
A sampling-sized portion of the Citrus Crusted Salmon is served with stir-fried vegetables and drizzled with a soy maple glaze.

ST. CHARLES – Pheasant Run Resort’s restaurant, Harvest, has a casual-sophisticated charm, alluring guests with its extensive wine list and gourmet meals made with fresh Midwestern ingredients.

Pheasant Run recently hosted a Fall Harvest Celebration, an open-house-style menu tasting in honor of executive chef Josef Yurisich’s fall menu. Falling in line with the restaurant’s “Farm-to-Fork”-themed cuisine, items such as Pumpkin Bisque ($8), Salted Roasted Beet Salad ($9), Slow Braised Lamb Shank ($26), and Pumpkin Tiramisu ($8) grace chef Josef’s fall menu.

The open house invite promised a sprawling smorgasbord of “gourmet creations” that included Pheasant Schnitzel, Citrus Crusted Salmon and Oysters Rockefeller. In turn, my dining companion and I showed up with empty belly’s and open minds, eager to get our taste buds working overtime to conquer the high volume of dishes that needed devouring. It was a tough job, but we were up for the challenge.

Making a lap around the lounge and restaurant before committing to a location, we began our descent into caloric overload with the Cinnamon Apple French Toast with peach and mascarpone compote drizzled with syrup. The compote added a creaminess to the crunch of the toast. The sweet decadence danced in my mouth as I reverberated the traditional “mmmmm” in approval.

“This would make a great dessert dish,” I said to my dining companion, as I scraped the residual compote from my plate.

We shuffled down to the seafood station next, sampling the Citrus Crusted Salmon ($26) with stir-fried vegetables and soy maple glaze. The soy glaze gave the salmon an Asian-infused flair, and the ginger played nicely with the rest of the dish’s components.

Oysters Rockefeller elicited a, “Whoa,” from my dining companion, who loved the heavy spinach and Pernod Hollandaise Glaze coupling.

Rainy weather that evening had me craving comfort food, which I found in spades with the Pheasant Schnitzel ($28). Buttered spatzle and lemon caper glaze decorated with marble-sized German dumplings on top served my needs (maybe not my waistline) well.

Perusing the salad bar with the golden rule of food-tastings and buffet-style eating in mind, I steered clear of fillers like bread and salad, and in turn got to sample more of the higher-ticket items. I did, however, sample the salad toppers, which included a Mesquite Seared Smoked Duck (a “Farm-to-Fork” feature at $13), which I layered with a generous amount of Creole Mustard Aioli; and a nut-crusted goat cheese on the side. In general, cheese needs no interruption – which is why I decided to sample it a la carte. Biting into the hunk of cheese like an apple, the ratio of sweet to salty (one of my favorite flavor profiles) garnered a subsequent “mmm.”

We also sampled the Pumpkin Bisque with spiced marcona almonds, chipotle creme and a lavender honey drizzle as well as the Bookbinder Soup, a roasted seafood broth with Sherry infused snapper. We both preferred the Bookbinder soup but enjoyed the pumpkin bisque’s seasonality.

Before ending on the Risotto that evening, we sampled more meat – this time the Trio Pepper Crusted Bison Strip Loin. A generous layering of pepper gave the Bison Strip Loin a flavorful punch that teamed nicely with the juiciness of the meat.

Normally Risotto is cooked as a primo, or first course, served before the main course in Italian kitchens, but on our culinary conquest, we saved it for last.

With Risotto, I usually live by the phrase “less is more.” However, Harvest’s Risotto came with a mix of roasted mushrooms, asparagus, sun-dried cranberries and smoked gouda. I found it a tad too complex for its own good, but enjoyed the colorful components of the dish.

However, my dining companion disagreed, and would have unabashedly asked for seconds if not for the fortress of food staking claim on my dining companion’s upper abdomen.

In my eyes, the Harvest celebration proved a success, and as a first-timer to the restaurant, its lounge-like decadence, impeccable service and varied menu, made me realize I won’t have to go very far to get away from it all.

Harvest

Address: 4051 E. Main St., St. CharlesReservations: 630-524-5080Website: www.pheasantrun.comHours: The Harvest lounge is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thurs- day and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits different restaurants during the month and then reports on the experience.

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