Some say that the green buds of tulips are the first sign of spring. In Chicago, or at least in the Chicago dining scene, the return of ramps is a surer bet.
Local chefs such as Tom Van Lente love the wild onion, which is as delicious as it is fleeting. Van Lente forages ramps with his family near his dad’s house and uses them for a ramp tasting menu at Two, which features ramp risotto (one of the most popular items on last year’s menu), ramp soup with pickled mussels, ramp bruschetta, grilled ramps with roasted morels and a 64-degree farm egg, as well as a ramp-and-cheese plate with ramp butter, sweet ramp jam and ramp relish. “We cherish their short season so it's all about them being the star,” Van Lente said. “Showcasing their natural flavor and beauty is the challenge.”
Ramps officially arrived in Chicago last week, and Two wasn’t the only restaurant to relieve a shipment. Check out how chefs around thy city are seizing spring.
Chef Ryan McCaskey added a new ramp-focused vegetarian entree onto the à la carte menu. The dish features a 63-degree Celsius Swan Creek farm egg with allium ragu, frisée, sorrel, turnips, radishes, pistachio bread and ramp jus.
1639 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-360-9500
A menu favorite returns this spring at the clandestine restaurant. Chef Zoe Schor serves grilled ramps over scallops and chimichurri. The light dish will only be improved when it can be served in the backyard later this spring.
1664 N. Ada St.; 773-697-7069
Chef Michael Dean Reynolds decided to use his shipment of ramps with P.E.I. mussels. The dish is served with baby artichoke, ramps, giardiniera and a side of toast.
3732 W. Irving Park Rd.; 773-866-5266
New on the menu just in time for ramp season is chef Chris Pandel’s tribute to spring with Parisian gnocchi and pickled ramps in a ramp-and-tarragon cream sauce. The vibrant dish contrasts the bright flavor with the creamy sauce.
2152 N. Damen Ave.; 773-862-5555
For those who like their ramps by the bushel, the Italian superstore’s got ‘em. The ramps are foraged in Michigan and can be used in pastas or salads, served roasted or grilled with meat.
43 E. Ohio St.; 312-521-8700
The steak accompaniment of choice for spring is ramps. These are served as ramp chimichurri over broiled Angus skirt steak with a side of arugula. Meat and ramps - what more do you need?
505 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-321-8823
Chef Tim Graham at Travelle is getting ready to cook at Cochon 555 with piri-piri pork belly served with smoked pineapple, ramps and their springtime counterpart, fiddlehead ferns.
330 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-923-7705
Among the collection of ramp-filled offerings is the favorite ramp risotto. The creamy and flavorful pasta is served with homemade pancetta, roasted bulbs and Parmesan.
1132 W. Grand Ave.; 312-624-8363
Skip the steak and potatoes for the grilled wild Alaskan halibut on top of creamed wild ramps, roasted South African porcini mushrooms, champagne Meyer lemon vinaigrette and fried ramps.
180 N. Field Blvd.; 312-938-4303