The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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Page 62 of 148

ON-PREMISE PATTER Wine Director Scott Quint, left, and Executive Chef Andy Motto of Quince share a vision for worldly wines and internationally inspired cuisine. Water into Wine by Tom Caestecker Jr. / photo by Jay Schroeder FORWARDTHINKING QUINCE PUSHES THE ENVELOPE IN A FORMERLY DRY TOWN T hirty years ago, Chicago's image as a restaurant town was signiied by two types of cuisine: steak and deep-dish pizza. Then, a strong zephyr of culinary change blew into the Windy City, scattering the seeds that produced groundbreaking, eclectic restaurants—teeming with Top Chef luminaries and top-notch sommeliers. Change arrived to Evanston—Chicago's northern neighbor—a bit more abruptly. Until recently, both traditional and nouveaustyle restaurants eschewed the city that's home to Northwestern University. Why? Nobody could get a drink, for Evanston also counts the Women's Christian Temperance Union among its residents. But gradually, dowdy teetotaling lost out to imbibing and indulgence, and cool restaurants became Evanston staples. And then, one arrives at the crossroads of Evanston's complex dining history: Quince. Located at the ultra-traditional Homestead Hotel (built in 1928), the juxtaposition induces a double-take. Quince is no meatand-potatoes bore, nor another banal bistro. Rather, a diverse wine and food program driven by Wine Director Scott Quint and Chef Andy Motto have made for an epicurean vanguard within buttoned-down, formerly dry Evanston. 62 / the tasting panel / may 2013 "Our philosophy is to have a truly international character," says Quint. "What's a pleasure for us in displaying Chef Motto's forward-looking menu is the amount of pleasant surprise that people have when they come here for the irst time." True, duck with black cardamom or barramundi with garbanzo, red pepper and eggplant prefer more unique wine pairings. And with more than 200 selections on the list (25 by the glass), the effort behind the impressive wine catalog is certainly not inspired by the staid or tried-and-true. "It took me about a year and a half to make the list truly my own," adds Quint. "It's a 50/50 blend between being food-driven, and representative of the great wines from all over the world, but without being arbitrary." Good thing that in such a community, a restaurant like Quince has its "sense of place," like the great vineyards. This consistency is what makes Motto's worldly menu resonate with guests willing to test the wine waters, especially in a wobbly economy. "People are willing to go to [wines] they're not that familiar with, as long as they feel it's a value-driven decision," says Quint. "Maybe we're heading back to the idea that spending the highest amount of money isn't the most satisfying way to go about things."

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