Parachute launched Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark to James Beard-level acclaim—now, with Wherewithall, the duo are trying something new in big little ways.
The soothing interior
It would be a different narrative entirely, had Wherewithall opened in the winter. We would have talked all things pickled and preserved, the cunning of James Beard Award-winning chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark in their ability to bring forth flavors in the infamous season of precious little local produce.
All that is likely to come as the year wanes, but for now, there are mounds of late-summer corn, kernels still visible under gelatin-like sheets of cured pork lardo. Strings of green papaya top perfectly cooked beef flank, cooling down the heat of Thai-spiced peanuts with the fruit’s acerbic tang. Sweet peaches are bathed in a butter-yellow vin jaune sauce speckled with almonds—a tribute to the classic peaches and cream.
Flavorful bites precede the four-course dinner.
Chances are, though, you won’t be sampling those specific dishes anytime soon; Wherewithall offers a four-course prix fixe menu ($65 per person) that shifts day to day. “By the end of the week, it’s completely different than what we started with,” Clark notes. “We let our creativity go in every direction.” Kim and Clark, who live in Avondale with their three children, subject themselves to the mercy of whatever produce comes through their door. “Sometimes we just buy a bunch of things and let them organically fold into our menu,” Kim says. “You think, ‘Oh, I need something kind of luscious, and I see we haven’t used the plums yet.’”
Organic is a suitable word for Wherewithall, where soothing tones of earthy grays, bright greenery and felted mushroom-cap lights greet guests. Those in the know are likely familiar with the couple’s lauded Korean restaurant, Parachute, but Wherewithall is a different beast entirely. “The upside to Wherewithall is that it’s kind of unbounded,” Kim says. “Parachute was a dream restaurant, but it’s nice to be free to do whatever.”
Beef flank with papaya
At first glance, each dish is simple enough. But the composition of the dishes—and the dinner as a whole—is so nuanced and balanced that it left me in quiet awe. The peaches, drowning in their sherry- flavored sauce, were the end to a meal that began with pre-course crudité; airy, petite beignets; freshly baked bread; and chilled kimchi broth that revealed briny, citrusy, vegetal undertones with each sip. By the time the actual first course arrived, I had nearly finished my glass of Liten Buffel Hear the Drums Echoing orange wine ($70 per bottle), delighted with the siena-tinged chardonnay and its funky, peachy notes. Brothy beans and adorably tiny mushrooms peeped out from a thatch of piney saltwort and a cured egg yolk for the first dish, followed by a mild wedge of monkfish topped with a finely diced bouillabaisse. For me, though, nothing at Wherewithall has bested that night’s third course, seared squab. A current of cracked coriander and fennel tossed in vinegar and honey spanned the length of the quarter-bird, and shiro plums added a sweet companion to each tender bite. Then again, perhaps an untold new favorite awaits me next time I come by.
Corn with lardo
3472 N. Elston Ave. | 773.692.2192
Open for dinner Tue.-Sat.
Wine pairing, $45; cocktails, $11-$16; wine by the bottle, $50-$132
Photography by: Anthony Tahlier