Students Create Quality Dishes at Foundations

Local Dining By BLAKE AUSTYN
Contributing Writer

PLATT COLLEGE: Foundations Restaurant, 3801 S. Sheridan Rd., is Platt College’s student-run kitchen, where students serve as servers and chefs in preparation for their entrance into real-world restaurants. Foundations offers lunch and dinner Wednesday through Friday.

BLAKE AUSTYN for GTR Newspapers

Foundations Restaurant at Platt College, 3801 S. Sheridan Rd., is using its student-run kitchen to prepare culinary students for real-world restaurants, and the public gets to reap the rewards.

The restaurant, which opened in June 2010, recently held a grand re-opening celebration.

After a change in school ownership in August 2014, the school underwent various facelift projects, including interior improvements to the restaurant and student areas in the school, and Foundations received new lunch and dinner menu items.
Almost half of the items found on its menus are completely new dishes, says Jeff Howard, director of culinary arts at Platt College.

For the spring and summer months, lighter dishes were added to the menu, for example, the Chicken Salad Plate and Chicken Salad Sandwich; Turkey, Avocado & Sprouts Sandwich; and the Fettuccine Czarina, “a lighter pasta for springtime,” says Howard.

Some of the popular mainstay menu items include the Hot and Crunchy Shrimp, Platt Greens salad, and the Ribeye.

In the restaurant, students serve as both servers and chefs.

Students working in the restaurant are in the last stage of their education before they go out for an internship, so they are experienced with what they’re doing, says Howard, and there are instructors watching every step of the way.
My party of three all decided to loosen our belts and order the five-course option.

Chalmer, our waiter, admitted to us that he was new as a server, but he was very accommodating and knowledgeable; he told us that he had already made everything on the menu, so he offered a lot of guidance when it came to choosing dishes.

After everyone at the table ordered all five of our courses, Chalmer brought out a complimentary plate of small appetizers from the kitchen: nine total, three for each of us. Three were made with pureed mushrooms, three with leeks and the remaining with mackerel. All three kinds were distinctly unique and a nice surprise before our meal began. Bread and butter were also brought to the table.

First to arrive was our appetizers, I chose the Brochette of Cuban Pork, while my tablemates both opted for the Gratin of Colossal Shrimp on the recommendation of our server.

My pork came on one skewer with pickles and mustard swiss cheese cream. I loved the flavor of the meat and the sauce but the one skewer of pork paled in comparison to the size of the shrimp dish, which came in a bowl. About six shrimp covered in fontina were laid over a piece of bread.

For our second course, salad, I tried the Turned Daikon & Beet, with chickpeas and blue cheese and a tomato stuffed with daikon and beets. The flavors were delicious, the blue cheese adding a nice tartness to the sweet flavors of the tomato and beets and the balsamic dressing.

One person in our group ordered the Platt Greens, which offered a more acidic flavor in comparison to the Daikon & Beet and left me hard-pressed to choose which salad was my favorite.

For soups, our table ordered both options on the menu: the Roasted Pepper Coulis and the Ajo Blanco. The red pepper soup was warm with bits of red pepper in the broth, a nice, easy soup to drink. However, my favorite was the cold Ajo Blanco, with Spanish ham and topped with toasted almonds. It was surprisingly creamy for a cold soup, the texture reminding me of coconut milk, and the flavors, while hard to pinpoint, were soothing and complex.

Before our entrees, Chalmer brought a palate cleanser, a pink-colored sorbet that I expected to taste fruity but instead gave off a floral flavor.

For entrees, I chose the Ribeye; the remainder of my party chose the Lobster Tortellini and the “Navarin” of Lamb.

I found some fat around the edges of my ribeye, but overall, the cut was tender and well seasoned.

The lobster, which is normally stuffed in the tortellini, this evening, we were told, came, instead, on a bed of fettuccine because they ran out of tortellini. The dish was amply covered in sauce with large lobster pieces throughout the dish. For pasta and lobster lovers, it’s not disappointing.

The lamb came as a stew, with artichokes, peas, oven-dried tomatoes and potatoes, but without all of the stew broth.

For dessert, my table again chose both menu options: the Fresh Berry Panna Cotta, which had a light pudding texture with Greek yogurt sauce and a lot of summer berries, and the Chocolate Flourless torte, which wasn’t overly sweet but had a fudgey richness and also came with a nice amount of fruit – as a chocolate lover, my favorite by far.

Foundations also keeps its menu prices reasonable. Lunch items include sandwiches starting at $6 up to $12 for an entree. For dinner, Foundations offers a prix fixe menu of three, four or five courses ranging from $20 for a three-course meal to $28 for five courses.

Foundations is open for lunch W-F 11 a.m.-2 p.m. with a Friday all-you-can-eat buffet and for dinner W-F 7 p.m.-9. Dinner reservations are encouraged.

Updated 06-29-2015

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