I've heard so much hype about this place and we made it in yesterday evening for dinner. I've seen this chef all over the local news and media, who have placed him right there with Cantu and Achazt as one of the most significant chefs in Chicago right now. I guess I'm somewhat confused since some of the food was mediocre at best like the rissotto which had good flavor but was over cooked and just not as clean tasting as I would expect at such a place. The worst part of the meal were the desserts, which left me wondering why such a place would save the lackluster part of the meal for last. This left a bad taste in our mouth finishing on such a bland note: a dry and lifeless peach cobbler which consisted of the tiniest amount of flavorless 'brown sugar' ice cream wouldn't have been able to begin to save the desperate soul of deconstruction. The spiced rice krispie treat with a line of marinated strawberries and sweetened condensed milk ice cream had better flavor overall, yet it was still bland, lacked soul and seemed to be an afterthought. I expected much more from all of the hype (not to mention the prices).
Fortunately, some of the food stood up to all this hype: ceasar salad, which was deconstructed yet in a sensible way. The combination of white anchovy, fresh romaine, parsley cream and stuffed brioche was straightforward and flavorful. The root beer glazed 'prime' pork chop (although slightly over-cooked) was charred and glazed to perfection and was a great base for a refreshing watermelon chutney, containing a couple of ingredients that I couldn't pick out but was tasty none the less. The skatewing was a straight forward preparation containing polenta, spinach and a sweet raisin chutney. Tasty yet somewhat surprised with the large portion. The lack of sophistication of this food (both in flavor at times and definitely lightness/freshness) does not encourage us to try multiple courses. This obviously may not be the intent at G.E. and thats fine but what's all the hype for?!? Anyone been yet and have a different opinion? Maybe Sundays are off nights for the chef and that's just what it was, an off night.
The interior of this restaurant is beautiful with the earth tones and minimal treatment. The servers are out to prove the pretentiousness that many restaurants display and I applaud that. Although, at times they seemed a bit obtrusive. Seriously, how many times do I need my water glass filled after taking two sips! Find something else to do...HIDDEN! It also seems the chef is out to lower his expectations by giving his staff ownership of the menu. That's a nice thought in concept, however, people are eating at G.E. to eat food cooked by G.E. Is this a sort of cop-out gesture by a chef who names his restaurant by his initials?
Regardless of the experience (both good and the bad), G.E., you may want to invest in a pastry chef. Not being from Chicago but having the experience I had at Blackbird on Saturday, knowing what's going on around the city with all the hype (Ge included), I would say last impressions are particularly important.
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