April 11, 2011|by Kevin Pang – Chicago Tribune
NoMI, the French restaurant at the Park Hyatt overlooking Michigan Avenue, has been closed since January. When it emerges from its gut renovations on June 3, it’ll have a name change: NoMI Kitchen.
It’s a shift from the haute and buttoned-up days of founding chefs Sandro Gamba and Christophe David. Ryan LaRoche, an alumnus of Joel Robuchon’s Las Vegas outpost, said the rebranded NoMI Kitchen would emphasize more local ingredients and less rigid presentations.
“NoMI opened at a very different time,” LaRoche told The Stew. “The diner has changed so much that they still want the elegance and creativity, but they don’t want to throw on the suit every time.”
Gone from the menu is imported turbot; local walleye will be used instead. “Cote de boeuf” will be “Bone-in Beef Ribeye,” “pomme puree” becomes “potato puree” and won’t be presented in quenelle form. The sushi and shellfish bar remains, as do their popular weekend brunch.
Like any Culinary Institute of America graduate, LaRoche aspired for the type of fine dining that garners three Michelin stars (NoMI was awarded one star last November).
“I love fine dining because it’s such an art, and I love the technicality of it,” LaRoche said. “But it’s kind of overstayed its welcome with me. The once-a-year diner has become more sparse.”
He emphasized, several times in fact, that simplifying dishes and not printing menus in French doesn’t equate to dumbing down, only removing a certain stuffiness from the dining experience. White tablecloths will be no more in the renovated dining room, for one.
NoMI Kitchen is one of four “lifestyle” components on Park Hyatt Chicago’s revamped seventh floor. It includes NoMI Lounge, NoMI Garden and NoMI Spa.