There are so many reasons to love the month of October: crunchy blankets of leaves drifting across the sidewalks, Halloween, apple picking, ornamental gourds, Indian corn and the release of autumn menus, including the latest homage to fall from Matt Selby, executive chef of the Corner House, which opened early this year in Jefferson Park.
This is the third substantial menu change since the restaurant opened, and the focus, says Selby, resides in its simplicity. "I took a look at what I was doing when we first opened the Corner House, and I had it in my mind that our guests wanted the food that I was doing at Vesta, but over time, I've learned that, in reality, that's not what our guests want: They want an exceptional dining experience in a condensed amount of time at a great price, and they want simplicity, which is what we're trying to achieve," explains Selby. To that end, he adds, "I'm using fewer ingredients on the plate, just three or four, and while I love exotic ingredients, the heart of the fall menu is just about keeping it simple."
Still, this is arguably Selby's most confident menu to date, a seasonally immersive, flavor-punctuated, persuasively comforting and solidly focused syllabus that just feels -- and tastes -- really, really good. And there are several dishes on his new board -- the mussels bobbing in a sublime broth of San Marzano tomatoes, butter and white wine; crackly chicken thighs straddling a mound of chorizo-studded rice; and the seared foie gras crowned with rings of sangria-steeped red onions and paired with a savory pumpkin bread pudding and charred fig-and-rum reduction -- that are the kind of plates you'll want to make a weekly habit. I love his peach cobbler, too, and the brioche s'mores panini, paired with fresh berries, is one of those irresistible sweet finales that evokes a sense of wistful nostalgia.
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The fall menu is being unleashed this week, but here's a sneak peek at several of Selby's new dishes, along with a few of the Corner House's autumn-inspired cocktails.