The new fall menu at State & Lake has several hearty menu options perfect for the chilly weather now upon us. On a recent visit, I was immediately drawn to the spinach dumplings ($15) accompanied by buttercup squash, roasted maitake, king oyster, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, and an aromatic consommé. The dumplings are like gnocchi, and the spinach gives the dough a light green color, although it does not have much impact on the flavor.
I initially misread the menu as butternut squash, but was pleasantly surprised by the more fibrous, sweet and nutty flavor of buttercup, which is very similar to kabocha squash and often mislabeled. It has a flatter turban shape, as compared to the more common elongated beige butternut, with dark green skin and lighter vertical stripes down the sides. The chunks of squash were cooked so they were still firm—sort of al dente, if I can use that term to describe cooking vegetables.
"I love how it [buttercup] holds its beautiful color when cooking," says Executive Chef Evan Percoco of buttercup. "It sounds weird but it emotionally brightens my day when I cut into it." He chose to use buttercup for its meatier interior. "It's difficult to work with though, as the skin is tough to peel away," he says.
I was very impressed by my entire meal here and plan to be back for dinner soon. With the many flat-panel TVs, this would be a great hangout to watch Bulls games.