Chicago – 11/4/17 – El Ideas

While I enjoyed my previous visit to El Ideas, the BYOB format in a very casual setting was perfect for a large group dinner.  This was such a fun evening and thank you to my dinner companions who took charge of wine pairings.

chanterelle, creme fraiche, pomegranate, trout roe

egg tart, caviar, sea urchin bottarga, finger lime

scallop, okra, sweet potato, haitian trinity

lobster, parsnip, apple, cornbread, thyme

french fries & ice cream, potato, leek, vanilla

pheasant, celeriac, truffle, lovage

oxtail, cabbage, maitake, parsley, mustard seed

pierogi, squash, black trumpet, sage, smoke

strip loin, bread pudding, quail egg, béarnaise

pavlova, plum, hibiscus, chocolate

quince, dulcey chocolate, olive oil, pistachio

Chicago – 11/3/17 – Somerset, Prairie School and Next


I loved Somerset so much that I almost went back the next day and then was kicking myself for not doing so. I hope to check out dinner my next time in Chicago but this was pretty much what I wish I could have for lunch everyday. It makes me very happy to see the proliferation of great crudités. The tuna and sprouted grains salad was fantastic as was their take on the Tuxedo. After such a miserable experience at Devereaux the night before, the Boka group definitely redeemed themselves.

Tuxedo served with aged gouda

vegetable crudite

charred broccoli, garlic, almonds, crispy chicken skin, yogurt

seared tuna, sprouted grains yogurt, cucumber vinaigrette

Prairie School
The purpose of my first trip to Chicago was to visit Frank Lloyd Wright houses.  As I exhausted new places to visit, my focus turned to food and cocktails.  I can’t believe that nobody opened a bar with this concept sooner.  Obviously I was won over before I even got there.

What a great opportunity to have dishes from so many amazing restaurants that I (and many other guests) may never have opportunity to visit as well as a few old favorites.  This was a great concept as it peaked my interest in some places I may not have ever had an interest in and challenged me to think about why I don’t like some places with great dishes that I loved having here.

rose, apple, pomegranate
Quique Dacosta/Alicante, Spain

Jerusalem Artichoke
walnut, rye
Geranium/Copenhagen, Denmark

An oyster’s frozen kiss
oyster, radish flower
Mugaritz/San Sebastian, Spain

Eggs benedict
caviar, asparagus, ham
Eleven Madison Park/New York, USA

Marine soil
sea urchin, jicama, surf clam
Centra/Lima, Peru

artichoke, bagna cauda, squid ink
Mirazur/Menton, France

King crab
beef gram, hen’s egg yolk, rose miso
Noma/Copenhagen, Denmark

bison, sunchoke
Estela/New York, NY, USA

Badger flame beet
Blue Hill at Stone Barns/Pocantico Hills, USA

vin jaune, egg yolk, button mushrooms
Septime/Paris, France

Riso cacio e pepe
parmigiano reggiano, burgundy truffle
Osteria Francescana/Modena, Italy

Dim sum
cau cau, dashi, potato
Maido/Miraflores, Peru

wasabi, mango, thai vinaigrette
Restaurant Tim Raue/Berlin, Germany

aubergine, fermented peppers
De Librije/Zwolle, Netherlands

“Vuelve a la Vida”
scallop, beef tongue, salsa bruja
Quintonil/Mexico City, Mexico

All parts of the pumpkin
the skin, the seeds, the flesh
Attica/Melbourne, Australia

parsnip, almond, lacender
Next/Chicago, USA

foie gras, black truffle, chives
Restaurant Andre/Singapore

chanterelles, granite
Relae/Copenhagen, Denmark

milk chocolate, blueberry, yogurt
Alinea/Chicago, USA

Chicago – 11/17 – Viceroy

I keep meaning to add some hotel reviews and for some reason I just keep skipping over them.  While hotels are certainly justified in doing it as I am sure people abuse it, this is the first time I had been asked for my AAA card in ages when checking in.  Of course I didn’t have my current card in my wallet and couldn’t remember my password for the mobile app.  I was told I had to come back with the information prior to checking out otherwise the rate wouldn’t be honored.  But when I went back the next day after sorting out my password situation to get a mobile version of my current card, the front desk agent looked completely surprised that I was offering this information.

The Viceroy has done a very good job in competing with the Thompson across the street (and winning).  I loved the decor, the chaise, the large desk, having a Nespresso, the large shower, and the long entryway.  Also a great touch that the closet opened on two sides, into the hallway and the bathroom.

Somerset restaurant on the ground floor from the Boka Group is so good that I almost went two days in a row (review in my next post).  Unfortunately Devereaux, the rooftop bar was a huge disappointment.  When I walked in, not only was I not greeted by the first 3 employees that crossed my path, but from the looks that they gave me I felt like I walked in 2 hours after closing wearing face paint.  I understand there is a seasonal pool and plastic glassware may make sense at certain times of day and the year.  But late in the evening, an expensive cocktail at a beautiful bar in a plastic glass is just tacky.  The bartender required me to give him my license even though I was staying at the hotel.  The bar was only about half full and wouldn’t it have just made more sense to ask for my room number and last name if they feared I was a flight risk?  When I closed out I was returned my license and only glanced at it and saw that it was from the correct state.  Probably an hour later when I was in bed, my room phone rang and it was the bartender who told me that he had given me the wrong license and tried to give another guest closing out my license, and the asked if I could come back up.  When my response to that was a clear no he came down with my license about 10 minutes later. Another 10 minutes and I would have been asleep with earplugs in and two people would have been without a license.

I would absolutely stay at the Viceroy again but definitely avoid the bar.

Chicago – 8/26/17 – Proxi

Yet another fantastic addition to the west loop.  Those tempura elotes alone are worth a visit.

tempura elotes

salad of sugar snap peas and carrots, yuzu kosho, sesame, miso brûlée

shaved zucchini, sheep’s milk feta, pine nuts, mint

baby octopus, red chermoula, fava bean hummus

black pepper pork, butter lettuce, peanuts, apple, mint

merguez sausage, eggplant aioli, almonds, grapes, radish

Chicago – 8/25/17 – Roister and Alinea

If you haven’t been to Roister and live in Chicago we probably can’t be friends. Always excellent and dishes that are so much better than they read on the menu. The spicy cucumber salad I could easily eat once a day forever. And those grits may not look like much…but the scallop XO….amazing. Some others told me that the foie gras toast was too sweet. But as dessert is is perfect and evoked so many amazing childhood cinnamon toast memories.

anson mills grits, scallop XO, egg yolk sauce, parmesan

avocado toast, english muffins grapefruit, everything butter

spicy cucumber salad, pineapple-fish sauce dressing, lots of herbs

Foie gras, cinnamon toast, strawberry jam

Still my favorite restaurant a decade later.  Somehow I am missing a few photos because I was enjoying myself too much to be bothered.  Always an an amazing experience and always something new that is a complete surprise.  On this visit, the spud.  Perhaps not the prettiest dish in the era of instagram (despite best efforts which gave me a good laugh) but absolutely delicious.

spear | avocado, coriander

paper | langoustine, bouillabaisse, olive oil

crunch | rouille, nori

ink | olive, artichoke

garden | orange, sherry, tomato

black bass, shellfish, kuzu
kaffir lime, tropical fruit
chicken, rice

steam | hamachi, rosemary, kombu

glass | blueberry, lapsing soughing, maitake

spud | truffle, midwest dairy

toast | gruyere, black truffle, pumpernickel

smoke | veal cheek, pineapple, hearts of palm

rock | sweet potato, chocolate, miso

nostalgia | bubblegum, candy bar

Chicago – 5/13/17 – Next Hollywood 

Hollywood was absolutely the most fun Next menu.  The presentations were all fantastic and perhaps too much fun as I have never had so many missing photos.

Movie Quotes – Gone with the “Caviar”

Popcorn – meyer lemon, fennel, guanciale

The Breakfast Club – bento box, sandwich, soup, pixie stick

Cool Hand Luke – trout roe, kiwi, young coconut, turnip

The Wizard of Oz – fave bean, golden raisin, romanesco

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – octopus & scallop

Blade Runner – noodles, duck, pickled ginger

Jurassic Park – madeira, jambo, brioche

Star Wars – frog, Ethopian spices, yellow split pea

Ratatouille – byaldi

The Godfather – taro root, ricotta, olive

Horror – smoked pork neck, beet, garlic

Pulp Fiction – bulgogi big kahuna burger

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids – foie gras, chamomile, sunflower

Marie Antoinette – rhubarb, raspberry, black tea

Missing:  “Life is Like a Box of….” and Mary Poppins