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Restaurants & Bars Chicago Area Trip Report

My dining trip report

agaaga | | Mar 3, 2013 10:58 AM

*** Grace:
Hands down the best dining experience in Chicago so far! I enjoyed Grace much more than Alinea. Chef Duffy's beautifully presented dishes also tasted amazing! Each and every dish was carefully thought out in order to keep the balance and when the server named certain ingredients, I could actually taste those ingredients!!! (which is not always the case at too many restaurants, where they say certain ingredients are in a dish and I can never taste them. At Grace, each and every ingredient my server mentioned was oustandingly flavorful.)
I practically loved everything on the menu, but particularly Carrot, Truffle, Kanpachi, and Matsuzaka Beef were to die for.

Service was truly incredible too. I couldn't believe the restaurant was only two months old because the server was always there to clear up the table and serve next dish in time! Everyone was super friendly as well!

Chef Duffy was also a very kind, down-to-earth person and we cheerfully discussed things about food.

I will definitely go back to Chicago solely to try Grace's new menu in the future! Thanks chowhounders for introducing me such a mind-blowing place!


*** Alinea:
The most disappointing experience in this Chicago trip.
I could have been impressed if it were 2006 but this is 2013 and I have already seen silmiar, if not exact, techniques somewhere in the world for the past several years.

At the end of the day, it's how the food tastes that counts and Alinea's food, while decently solid, was not exceptionally good IMHO to justify all the hassle and risks involved in purchasing tickets.
If I strip off the fun part of the course, I do not think the food is worth all the trouble I went through. Was the food better than Per Se, Daniel, or Jean Georges, to justify the extra efforts and risks involved? I don't think so.

Service left much to be desired. Servers acted like well-trained robots. Yes, they were smiling and efficient (So should I say 'smiling robots' rather?) but I couldn't feel they actually cared about each guest. For 20% gratuity they automatically charge us, that level of service was not acceptable. But why wouldn't they? There are hundreds of throusands of peple eager to dine here after us.

Would I go back? May be not. For me, TRU or Grace was way better in terms of food and service.


*** Aviary:
Alinea was kind enough to make a reservation at Aviary for me.
I ordered some cocktail and bar bites a la carte. Fully enjoyed everything. Small snack foods beautifully presented and also tasty. I liked their white truffle egg nog.
Much better service than Alinea too!


*** RL Restaurant:
Classic American cuisine in cool ambiance. Not a bad choice for lunch.


*** Purple Pig:
I heard the line was crazy long, so I showed up 20 mins early and there were already two guys ahead of me.
As I was chatting with them waiting for the opening hour, one of them said he had lunch at RL the previous day. What a coincidence! I did too! LOL Every dish I ordered was grea~~~~~t! I liked foie gras, which was served with sweet and aromatic quince chutney. Tasty! Pork jowl and wagyu were also winners. Hands down the best lunch I had in Chicago!


*** Topolobampo:
Unique Chicago experience. There were hits and misses, but I enjoyed it.


*** L2O:
Unlike deknor, I enjoyed here very much.
There were some OK good dishes and very good dishes. Their quail was out of this world!
Service was also flawless.
Will I go back? Definitely.


Overall, a very delicious trip!
Thanks chowhounders, you are awesome!!!