Next is the second restaurant of chef Achatz (Alinea) in Chicago. The menu changes in cycles, with the whole space transforming to accommodate the concept. This year's first menu was "Next Paris Bistro". We found the experience to be very close to that of a Parisian bistro. Chef Beran incorporated a lot of authentic French preparations to create a nicely paced and executed menu. The 2 story seafood platter and the pressed duck were certainly the highlights of our night! The latter is a technique (with an antique press) that has been used with a lot of success for several menus at Next. The service is welcoming and playful. An amazing dinner with an intense Parisian vibe!
Grace entirely deserves its recent promotion in the 3 star club! Chef Duffy has created an amazing experience for all the senses! The restaurant offers a vegetarian menu or a menu that includes meat. Cooking is impeccable with particular attention to American and international spices and herbs. A wall in the kitchen is decorated with all the spices used in the restaurant, making a beautiful collage. Chef Duffy plays between different textures and complementary flavors, while creating unique artistic presentations. In particular we found the crab dish, and the pear desert to be the highlights of our experience. The crab course has multiple layers with part of it's ingredients supported on a sugar platform above the crab. Once mixed it offers a really explosive taste! The pear desert is a homage to minimalism. All the ingredients are included in a perfect sphere, which could be how a contemporary artist would depict a pear. Certainly a mouth-watering experience through different temperatures and textures, with a prevailing pear taste! The service was impeccable, warm, and welcoming! It is interesting to note that the restaurant has 4 bathrooms, each of which is decorated to remind a season of the year. This underscores the attention to detail that has gone in the design of this restaurant. Overall, we were very impressed and can't wait to visit again. We feel that Grace belongs in the best 5 US restaurants.
3 Michelin stars
The Aviary (and it's speakeasy "The Office") is one of the best bars in town. We do not have any pictures to share from our most recent visit in The Office, since the lighting is not ideal for picture taking. The Office is located behind a metal door at the basement of the Aviary. It is a beautiful space with leather couches and nice artwork on the walls. Mixologist Micah Melton offers a unique cocktail tasting menu (available as non-alcoholic too) that will blow your mind. Great experience in one of the best places in town for late night fun!
RPM Italian offers authentic Italian tastes with a modern twist! Lively atmosphere and welcoming service are always guaranteed. Dishes are intended to be shared. Chef Psaltis has created a menu which features a variety of cold and hot antipasti, several freshly prepared in-house pastas, and a selection of salads, and slow-roasted meats. Squid ink spaghetti was certainly the highlight for us! The restaurant offers a great selection of deserts for a great finish of a fantastic meal!
Momotaro is another great project of the Boca group. The restaurant in housed in a beautiful space with a central island for the chefs. The downstairs bar area, with amazing cocktails, is a great perk to this establishment. Food is very well prepared and loyal to original Japanese tastes. However, the long menu can get overwhelming at times. The staff make every effort to make the experience as comfortable as possible ,and they are always eager to engage and help with selections or combinations. The restaurant has a fun and vibrant vibe, making for a great night out!
Sixteen is located on the 16th floor of the Trump hotel and tower by the Chicago river. It offers one of the best views in Chicago for a restaurant (together with Everest). Dinner starts with what seems to be a game of jenga, through which the guests select their menu for the night. Several small bites set the tone for what's going to follow. Impeccable preparations, strong French influence, and attention to detail. Different bread servings are offered with corresponding choices of butter. Chef Lents provides an exceptionally executed seasonal menu. The cheese cart is a great addition, but they could have been more liberal with it, instead of restricting it to just 4 cheese selections.
2 Michelin stars
Girl and the Goat was one of the first establishments in the Randolph Restaurant Corridor, and still remains an amazing restaurant! It's always packed, and it gives off a young, playful, and vibrant vibe. Part of the kitchen is open and can be seen through the entire restaurant. The menu is divided in vegetables, meat, and fish sections similar to other Chicago establishments (i.e. the Publican). All aspects of the menu are equally strong, and chef Izard has done a great job fusing varied culinary traditions (with significant Asian influences) to achieve an explosive result! Her dishes are colorful and impeccably presented! Rich taste, texture, and temperature combinations create a playful experience. The highlights for us were the 3 bread preparations, the wood oven roasted pig face, the 3 oyster preparations, and the budino. Serving is family style, and nicely paced. A great experience!
No visit in Chicago is complete without a stop at Alinea... As we have indicated in our past reviews this restaurant is a foodie paradise! Chef Achatz never ceases to amaze us with his innovative creations. Deception, surprise, theatrical presentations, and minimalism are still part of almost every course. When we sat down we noticed a bundle of vegetables suspended from the ceiling looking like a small bouquet of flowers. They seemed to float in the air as they were attached to an almost invisible string, and quickly introduced the guest to the dream world of chef Achatz. What initially seemed an innovative center-piece, quickly turned into a component of one of our dishes. Later, we had to look for 2 pieces of dehydrated salsify in tumbleweed, whereas burning coal turned into pork belly and parsnip! The playful transformation of what would otherwise be non-food items into culinary creations of the highest magnitude keeps you guessing what trick would come next. All your senses are stimulated at Alinea, with memorable interactions of colors and textures, tastes and smells. The deserts were phenomenal as always, with the final one created on the table by the chef. The "tropical fruit" seems like something a surrealist painter would create trying to depict the explosion of a magical fruit, filling the space around it with smells, flavors, temperatures, and textures. A unique experience in a restaurant where cooking turns into the highest form of art, aimed to please all your senses!
3 Michelin stars
Another amazing experience at the Publican! We again enjoyed the vibe of the restaurant and the mouthwatering food. Communal tables, standing guests, vibrant atmosphere, and friendly staff set the tone. This restaurant offers a very well-balanced menu of shared plates. Some of the highlights we enjoyed were oysters, spicy pork rinds, suckling pig, and farm chicken. Although this restaurant focuses on meat, every part of the menu is equally strong. The "Fish" component is exceptional, and frequently the preparations are significantly more complex than the meat creations. "Vegetables" are not just side dishes, but stand alone courses, with interesting, and unique tastes. A common denominator of a lot of the dishes is the presence of nuts, which add special flavor and texture dimensions to the main ingredients. The wide selection of plates and silverware are rich in farm references, and add character to the presentation of the food, which mainly follows earthy colors.