LINCOLNSHIRE – Veteran chef Pierre Daval walked restaurant writers and food bloggers through the fall menu introduced at Three Embers, Marriott Lincolnshire Resort’s new upscale dining venue that replaced the King’s Wharf steak-and-seafood restaurant.
The dining space, which underwent a major face-lift, also includes newcomer Wright’s Brew & Bistro, a casual eatery.
Daval, who serves as director of food and beverage operations, describes Marriott’s recently completed three-year $25 million renovation program as “an ambitious investment for the future.”
“The property was nice before, but it was a little outdated,” said Daval, 41. The sweeping refurbishment included updating the resort’s 390 guest rooms and suites.
The popular in-the-round Marriott Theater has drawn traffic during the past 43 years. "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn," now onstage through Jan. 6, has drawn thumbs-up from local critics.
Daval said Three Embers’ wood-fired grill is one of the things that makes the 140-seat restaurant unique. “Grilling and charring food adds flavors you otherwise wouldn’t have,” he said.
Among course options are Yukon potato gnocchi with braised oxtail and aged Parmesan; heirloom beet salad; potato and leek soup; pan-seared striped bass with pearl pasta; and wood-grilled beef tenderloin with mushroom ragout and cauliflower gratin (recipe at right).
Seared duck, served with spaghetti squash, cranberry sauce and Swiss chard, is the hottest item on the Three Embers’ menu, which will be reviewed every 60 days to keep it fresh.
Born and raised in northeastern France, Daval moved to the United States 18 years ago and has worked at Marriott properties ever since.
“Today’s generation of diners is more educated and demanding. They embrace the farm-to-table concept and want to know what they are being served,” said Daval, attributing part of the elevated conscientiousness to televised cooking programs.
Daval oversees 14 beehives on the property that yield between 300 and 400 pounds of honey a year. Marriott’s kitchen also benefits from a 2-acre seasonal garden that supplies tomatoes, peppers and root vegetables.
The Three Embers bar offers signature cocktails, artisanal Midwestern beers, including Honey Badger Ale from Libertyville, and a well-stocked wine cellar featuring products from California vintners.
Three Embers is accepting reservations for Christmas and New Year's holidays at 847-634-0100.
CAULIFLOWER PARMESAN GRATIN
2 small heads of cauliflower, outer leaves removed
4 Tbl. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. fine salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place cauliflower core side down on a cutting board. Slice the cauliflower into four 1/2-inch “steaks.” Transfer the steaks and any loose florets to a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower until tender and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
In a small bowl combine the Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses and set aside. In another small bowl, brown for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower from the baking sheet to a 2-quart baking dish and arrange half of the cauliflower at the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over the cauliflower and then pour half of the cream mixture over the top. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower, cheese and cream.
Bake the gratin until bubbly and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the gratin stand for 5 minutes before serving.