Chicago High End Restaurants

Cheese course: Tiny "slices" of Humboldt Fog cheesecake from Schwa. Photo from: Chicago Dining Examiner

Chicago is a city of AMAZING food. Low end, high end – it really does offer something for everyone. Today, I am dreaming of the high end variety. These are a few spots on my list that I really am dying to spend a house payment apiece on. Here are a few:

Notoriously nearly impossible to get a reservation at, but also notoriously mind-blowing. Why so hard to get a reservation here? Besides being very popular, and pretty small (26 seats), the entire restaurant staffs only three chefs and an intern. There is no maitre d’ (leave a message for a reservation if you can get into the voicemail system – a chef or intern may call you back), no host (the chefs seats you?), no servers (the chefs serves you), & no bartenders (BYOB). My husband went without me last year (boooo), and here was his 9 course tasting menu:

  • White anchovy roll w/menthol crystal & zucchini puree
  • Pickled beets, boar’s blood beet risotto w/horseradish foam, gruyere, & escargot caviar
  • Sunchoke soup w/a black dot of licorice, sunchoke & orange flowers salad
  • Cauliflower tortellini w/ Spanish cheese smoked in birch, coco nib …consume and coco nib brittle
  • Quail egg and ricotta ravioli in brown butter sauce
  • White fish roe, dried white asparagus, black garlic puree, bacon puree, & white asparagus “nests”
  • Poached lobster, persimmon puree, shaved chestnuts, & prosciutto crisp
  • Chicken liver pate w/ turmeric, beer suds, rutabaga balls & peanut brittle
  • Seared duck breast w/black truffle on top of brussles sprout leaves, w/shaved pumpkin, pumpkin oil, duck leg confit, crackling of duck &dark chocolate
  • Tellagio cheese w/ scrambled egg, white truffle, and honey crisp
  • Vanilla custard w/ parsnip chip, passion fruit puree, ice wine vinegar, caramelized sweetbreads, and lavender foam

Any foodie worth his salt knows about Alinea – if you are from Chicago or not. Is the inventive molecular gastronomy trend going away any time soon? Not if star chef Grant Achatz has anything to say about it.

Admittedly – I have had a cocktail in the bar here while waiting for a seat at one of my favorite restaurants, Blackbird (right next door), but I have yet to have a meal here. It is high time!

One of my very favorite luxury hotel bars to crash on occasion (called The Bar) is at The Peninsula. The Peninsula houses another treat: Avenues. I really wish I had gone to Avenues when Graham Elliot Bowles had been the chef. Avenues is now run by Curtis Duffy, an Alinea alum and currently garners some of the highest critical ratings in the city.

Graham Elliot
Speaking of Mr. Bowles – when he left Avenues, he opened and now runs the intriguing Graham Elliot- which he uses as a creative outlet for interesting and fresh ideas for a restaurant and its food. I have read it put that Graham Elliot “juxtaposes four star cuisine with humor and accessibility.” Fine dining which includes Pop Rocks on the menu and waiters in Chuck Taylor sneakers? Yes, please.

Charlie Trotter’s
Considered one of the finest restaurants in the world. AND it’s here in Chicago. Why have I not yet been? Oh yeah. $$$$$

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