Classic Tables Chicago: MK Restaurant In River North

Still seasonal and stunning at 15

Chicago is filled with restaurants that name-drop farms.

But even 15 years after opening, MK remains one of the finest of the bunch, its menu loaded with dishes that treat seasonal bounty with both deference and skill.

Michael Kornick's River North is fresh from a face-lift. But a subtly spiffed-up space is not the reason to go now; chef Erick Williams' menu, packed with summer produce from local farms, is the real draw.

On our early August visit, slices of fresh peach and pickled fennel graced the night's amuse-bouche, a bite of pork terrine that nearly melted on the tongue. The season's final English peas were mashed into rich hummus scented with a bold dash of cumin ($6).

A nest of thick hand-cut fettuccine was laced with patty pan squash, asparagus and opal basil, all tossed in goat butter ($16). Watermelon and multihued heirloom tomatoes arrived dressed in only olive oil and tomato water, decorated with French feta and pickled Basque peppers ($14). Lively and bright, it was the platonic ideal of summer.

The farm-fresh hit parade continued through dessert; pastry chef Lisa Bonjour left us swooning with her dish of berries and a superbly silken panna cotta that tasted of lemon verbena and the richest summer cream.