Nellcôte images [Photos: Potluck Creative]/People and food images [Photos: Joseph Storch Fab Photo]
Last night, weeks before Nellcôte will officially open to the public, Sound Opinions hosted a sneak peek dinner at the ornate, cavernous restaurant. For what was dubbed "Eat to the Beat," WBEZ's rock 'n' roll talk show hosts, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis, enlisted Jared Van Camp and Stephanie Izard to go head-to-head, or rather track-by-track, in a seven-course meal that pitted the Rolling Stones against the Beatles.
Why this tie it? Nellcôte, Van Camp's new West Loop restaurant, is named for and inspired by Villa Nellcôte in the South of France where the Stones recorded Exile on Main Street. Coincidentally, last night marked the 48th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. And Eater had a front row seat for the festivities.
About 100 people sat at long tables set with white table cloths and numerous wine glasses beneath sparkling chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. This was the first dinner being prepared in Nellcôte's new kitchen and numerous large-format bottles of Santomé wines were poured by sommelier Jason Wagner and his team.
When asked why these dinners (this is now Sound Opinions' third, having done dinners at Clandestino and Blackbird previously) are so popular, DeRogatis said the melding of chefs and musicians today is similar to when NBA players wanted to be rappers about 10 to 15 years ago. And he is completely OK with the convergence and said he's happy to "eat for them and talk about music."
The two music critics, who wrote The Beatles vs. The Stones, gave commentary on each course, which the chefs wrote based on songs from each band. Van Camp did courses 1, 3, 5 and 7 and chose the Stones' "Rocks Off," "Tumbling Dice," "I Just Want to See His Face" and "Ventilator Blues." Izard did the even-numbered courses paired to "Glass Onion," "Back in the U.S.S.R" and "Blackbird," all off the White Album. Van Camp said the dishes he prepared were all inspired by a trip to Nellcôte last August and that these are all of his favorite songs on Exile.
Kot did all the commentary for the Stones' songs and when he spoke at the start of the night, gave a toast to Van Camp and his restaurant. "I wish Jared as successful an album with the restaurant as Exile was, but please don't fall off the cliff like the Stones." Cheers to that.