Just got back from my Chicago trip and this was one of the three places I had to try. Charlie Trotter's is the name most synonymous with fine dining in Chicago and the restaurant earns every bit of this honor
My girlfriend and I had a 5:30 reservation which was a touch early, but we came to Chicago on a whim so we were happy to get anything.
The wait staff is polished and professional, well-heeled with easy smiles. I think around 5 different people worked together to bring food, clear plates, providing an extra pour of a favored wine and generally provide a seamless dining experience. They staff is knowledgeable as well, answering questions about the food, wine, and dining/visiting the Chicago area in general.
The decor of the restaurant was a touch simple to me. It did give a very homey feel along with a refined and older air. My girlfriend and I were definitely the youngest people in the dining room around us. Despite it all, I did not feel self-conscious.
The food here is excellent. We both had the Grand Menu, although we contemplated the Kitchen Table Menu. Having had a molecular gastronomy experience the night before, Trotters might seem a touch blase, but each dish that was presented to us tasted wonderful. The ingredients might not have included flavored air or liquid nitrogen, but Chef Trotter has a knack for pairing ingredients that work well together.
I mentioned to our server that I lamented not getting the Kitchen Table Menu and he was kind enough to have the kitchen create a special extra dish for us, Angus Beef.
The menu changes every night so it is difficult to predict how a return visit would be, but I am willing to bet no matter what day you go, you will leave with an unforgettable memory.
Would love to go back and get the kitchen table menu next time.
Full review with pictures at http://tangmeister.com/charlie_trotters/