The Gallery in Lake Forest used to simply be an art gallery. The inspiration for its current restaurant form came while planning an opening night event for the work of a Japanese artist. Co-owner Cecilia Lanyon and Co-owner/Chef Dominic Zumpano brainstormed over the types of hors d’oeuvres that would best complement the tone and spirit of the work. It worked so well that they decided to build out the concept. The result—a culinary studio that matches a single artist’s show with a full menu designed by Chef Zumpano in collaboration with the artist—is nothing short of incredible.
The space is elegant. Track lighting spotlights artwork on the walls and creates an intimate glow throughout the room, perfect for a romantic dinner for two or a gathering of friends, with a curated selection of talking points everywhere you look. If you fall in love with a particular piece, a price list and artist’s statement is available upon request. The evening of our visit, the show was called Midwest Travels by Casey Sills. As each beautifully plated course arrived at the table, we delighted in trying to find the photograph that best paired with the flavors we experienced.
The featured artist rotates every six to eight weeks, as does the menu, but there are a few tried and true dishes that remain. The following selections are several of the menu staples, the removal of which would cause a riot amongst The Gallery’s regulars.
The Gallery is located at 202 E. Wisconsin Avenue in Lake Forest, 224-544-5961, thegallerylf.com. Don’t miss the show going up for Valentine’s Day called Copycat, paintings by The Gallery’s own Cecilia Lanyon.
Black Garlic Deviled Eggs
These exquisite mouthfuls combine the deep smokey flavor of fresh, thick-cut, candied bacon with the incredible creaminess of black garlic aioli mixed in with egg yolks. Petite slices of toasted brioche drizzled with balsamic vinegar serve as the base and a smattering of spring onions add a wonderful sharpness. They basically taste like deviled eggs if you stuck them in a brisket smoker. Unbelievable.
Ginger Steamed Scottish Salmon
This is a very savory salmon presentation. The fish itself is gorgeously flakey and subtle, buoyed by the push and pull of other flavors on the plate. The carrot saffron puree is mild, sweet, and aromatic; sugar peas bring a lilt of freshness; peeled orange segments add a citrus zest; and a bed of quinoa provides an intuitive textural counterpoint.
For dessert, it’s hard to beat deconstructed apple pie, especially in the context of the Midwest-inspired photography that surrounded us. The apple is served as soft, bite- sized morsels poached in maple syrup. Vanilla ice cream soaks in caramel sauce with cinnamon custard, a sugar cookie crumble, and is accompanied by salted caramel gelato. It’s as delicious as it sounds and looks just as good. Bottom line, everything at The Gallery is a work of art.