At Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, one of Philadelphia's few splurge restaurants, chef Jon Cichon themes his monthly tasting menus to a particular seasonal ingredient.
April's is asparagus, which yields an amuse-bouche and six other dishes all containing the spring vegetable, all artfully plated and served with ceremonial panache.
Cichon starts bold with the amuse-bouche, an inside-out spring roll that wraps raw green asparagus with scallion, basil, bok choy, parsley, and fennel, following it with king salmon with sorrel, mango, and trout roe in a custard made of white asparagus; breaded white asparagus topping escargot with English peas and beech mushroom, enriched at the table in sabayon sauce; a luscious Alaska halibut with morel, lobster, and smoked sweetbreads over potato whipped with white asparagus; and Niman Ranch lamb with asparagus, baby lettuce, ramps, and black garlic.
The transition from savory to sweet is an intricate cheese course: sliced asparagus is layered on a puck of Westfield Farm's Capri goat cheese and dressed with dill pollen and lavender. (The optional wine pairing for this course is actually a funky Shacksbury Ticonderoga cider.)
Dessert is ice cream made of rhubarb, white chocolate, and white asparagus.
The experience is $115 a head, plus wine/cider pairings. Miss it? May's ingredient will be peas.