When there's a chill in the air and leaves begin to swirl, menus fill with comforting dishes rich in flavor and seasonal produce. More than a few Chicago chefs- and patrons- consider the humble pumpkin so much more than carving material. Spicy and savory, sweet and smooth, pumpkins take on the role of preferred squash for a particularly festive menu item this Halloween.
Here is a sampling of the latest offerings:
One sixtyblue- Pumpkin waffles appear as a tempting dessert option, with melting maple buttercream, crunchy pepitas toffee and roasted quince topping the cake, and served with tangy cream cheese ice cream from Michigan's Zingerman's Creamery.
more- Standing out among several seasonal and holiday themed cupcakes, more presents their version of a pumpkin pie, with creamy pumpkin cake spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove and topped with cream cheese buttercream icing. The finishing touch, salted pumpkin seeds, provide a delightful contrasting crunch.
La Madia- For Halloween lunch and dinner service only, a special 'pumpkin (pizza) pie' will be available, combining organic roasted pumpkin in a savory topping of soft Sicilian pecorino romano cheese and roasted cippolini onions.
Crofton on Wells- A seasonal dessert known simply as 'pumpkin/ goat cheese/ Guinness' layers pumpkin brioche bread pudding with goat cheese ice cream, finished with a gingersnap crumble and a drizzle of Guinness reduction.
Marche- On Halloween, patrons that arrive in costume will receive a complimentary dessert- spiced pumpkin cake, served with salted caramel ice cream.
Eve- Another restaurant serving the beloved pumpkin spice cake pairs their rendition with a decadent dollop of white chocolate-cardamom cream.
Naha- Trick or treat! In a playful celebration of the holiday, tiny diners dressed in their costumes will be treated to table side goodies throughout dinner service. Among the high end confections, pumpkin seed brittle sounds most like something mom and dad would snag too.
Perennial- Their seasonal risotto combines shrimp and red kuri, a relative of the pumpkin with chestnut notes, topped with curried pumpkin seeds for added kick.
The Green Zebra- Look for innovative veggie dishes with a seasonal twist, like creamy girts with pumpkin seed succatosh, fennel, cilantro and thai chili.
Shiso Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar- In honor of the holiday, the restaurant introduced a new Monster Roll with tempura pumpkin, unagi, cream cheese and mandarin orange, topped with seared scallop, jalepeno, black tobiko and Japanese chili powder. Oh yeah, and the roll is wrapped in festive orange soy paper.
May Street Market- Dinner guests can start their meal with apple and pumpkin soup, layering the creaminess of pumpkin with tart apple flavors, garnished with a side of raw apple salad and spicy pumpkin seeds.