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Graham Elliot


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#1 ulterior epicure

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 08:41 AM

From what I understand, the pieces to the puzzle are rapidly being dropped into place on this project (at a surprising speed, I must say). I thought I'd get the party started.

Here's a little preview I posted at the ulterior epicure.
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
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#2 smorris291

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 01:54 PM

Can't wait to go. Probably my favorite meal of all of any I've had at a Chicago fine dining establishment was at Avenues in May 07. Bowles is great, and I'm happy to see Michael Muser will be with him on the wine end...he's hilarious and will put together an interesting list (I took a class he taught last year).

I know Chef GEB has talked about keeping the prices on the affordable end so that it's not a "special occasion" place...any idea what that means for average entree prices?

#3 FoodMan

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 01:59 PM

So is he leaving Avenues? We had a terrific meal there last year.

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#4 ulterior epicure

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 02:13 PM

So is he leaving Avenues? We had a terrific meal there last year.

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Left. He left the Avenues end of last month (March). Curtis Duffy, formerly of alinea, is now Executive Chef of Avenues.
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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#5 ulterior epicure

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 02:33 PM

Can't wait to go.  Probably my favorite meal of all of any I've had at a Chicago fine dining establishment was at Avenues in May 07.  Bowles is great, and I'm happy to see Michael Muser will be with him on the wine end...he's hilarious and will put together an interesting list (I took a class he taught last year).

I know Chef GEB has talked about keeping the prices on the affordable end so that it's not a "special occasion" place...any idea what that means for average entree prices?

View Post

I have it on (very) good authority that appetizers will be in the $9 to $14 range, main courses will fall within the $24 to $29 bracket (Chef Bowles is trying to keep everything under $30), and desserts at $9.

I'm figuring that the average bill for food and wine (before tax and tip) will be around $60 per person.
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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#6 ChefCAG

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 11:25 AM

I just wanted to be the first to introduce Graham Elliot. Elliot Bowles' new venture in Chicago. Elliot is a great chef and a dear friend. This new concept is a breath of fresh air in the culinary world we live in today where great chefs sometimes have to hide behind a vale of pretension to serve cuisine at a high end. Graham Elliot will be a revolution in great dining!!


Good luck Elliot!!!! :cool:

http://www.grahamelliot.com/

Ok I just realized U.E. already started one :laugh: :laugh:

Edited by ChefCAG, 09 May 2008 - 04:11 PM.

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#7 ChefGEB

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 03:23 PM

just wanted to let everyone know that graham elliot will be accepting june reservations by the end of next week (312.624.9975).
Graham Elliot
@grahamelliot
www.grahamelliot.com

#8 ulterior epicure

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 05:39 AM

Nice work, ChefGEB, on the website! I can't wait to experience the "blueprints" in person!
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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#9 ulterior epicure

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 05:40 AM

And, being the popcornhead that I am, I *love* the teaser while the site loads.
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

#10 ryanj

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 09:52 AM

Amazing site, GEB. Can't wait for my next trip home to check out Graham Elliot.
Ryan Jaronik
Executive Chef
Monkey Town
NYC

#11 robyn

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 03:45 PM

Just wanted to add that GE is now on Opentable (we have made a reservation there for our trip to Chicago in July). Robyn

#12 wkl

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:22 AM

anyone been? i have a reservation for a trip i making next week.

#13 jesteinf

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:30 AM

I'm going on Saturday. I will report back.

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#14 docsconz

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:02 AM

When did it officially open?
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#15 ulterior epicure

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 11:39 AM

It hasn't.
Sent from my Blackberry ® wireless device.
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
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#16 jesteinf

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 12:05 PM

Umm, yes it has.

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#17 robyn

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 02:07 PM

I heard that it was scheduled to open on June 3. Don't know if that schedule was met. Robyn

#18 jesteinf

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 02:20 PM

To re-iterate. The resataurant is open. They opened last Friday (soft). Per Chef GEB's post on LTHForum, the official opening was last night.

Edited by jesteinf, 04 June 2008 - 02:20 PM.

-Josh

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#19 Bradley Gene Smith

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:36 AM

Oh, it's open. I ate there last night and it was dynamite! The space is great and the food even better!

#20 wkl

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 06:48 AM

can wait to go here next friday night.

but, can someone explain the wine list? cold, hot,land, sea?? i don't get it.

#21 robyn

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 09:00 AM

can wait to go here next friday night.

but, can someone explain the wine list? cold, hot,land, sea?? i don't get it.

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The food menu is divided into cold - hot - land - sea - and the wines have been picked to go with various parts of the food menu. Robyn

#22 wkl

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 12:46 PM

can wait to go here next friday night.

but, can someone explain the wine list? cold, hot,land, sea?? i don't get it.

View Post


The food menu is divided into cold - hot - land - sea - and the wines have been picked to go with various parts of the food menu. Robyn

View Post


got it. thanks.

is that the whole list, or is there a more formal list?

#23 robyn

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 03:35 PM

I live in Florida - have a reservation in July - and figured out what I told you from looking at the web site. So I don't have a clue! Robyn

#24 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 05:03 PM

There is a detailed discussion about Graham Elliot, including comments from the chef about the wine list, here.

=R=
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#25 jesteinf

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 09:38 AM

We really liked this restaurant. There were four of us at the table, so we decided to use a little ordering power and taste a good sized portion of the menu.

We started with the cold section. The Kobe beef tartare was the standout for me. The horseradish ice cream was a very cool touch, unfortunately it didn't stand a chance against some AC issues in the room last night. What I thought was really neat about this dish was the fact that it still tasted like a very well executed, classic steak tartare, just with some flourishes thrown in. I also tried the Caesar salad. I liked the salad, but not as much as the tartare. I would agree that the brioche was a little light on the filling, but it didn't bother me. The anchovies perched on the individual pieces of romaine were outstanding. Another person at our table had the raw tuna, and she said it was excellent. It looked like a pretty gorgeous piece of fish.

Next we moved on to "hot". I went with the Milwaukee-inspired risotto. I had what turned out to be an earlier version of this dish at Avenue's on New Year's Eve. Aged cheddar, bacon, PBR-braised onions, green apple, and Cheez-Its. What's not to like? The green apple was the key to this dish, providing a nice counter-point to the richness of all of the other ingredients. I also tried the gnocchi with fried egg, asparagus, and truffle oil. A pretty rich dish, but eating the gnocchi in the same bite as a piece of asparagus and a piece of runny egg was just fantastic. The gnocchi was just a little over salted, but it didn't take away from the dish too much.

For my main course, I had the pork chop. A gigantic piece of meat that blew me away with how tender and juicy it was. I thought the watermelon chutney was a nice cooling touch on top of the meat. The grits and the greens I thought were both good, but didn't really blow me away. I thought the sauce, that had a distinctive root beer taste was fantastic. A back yard BBQ on a plate kind of a dish that I really enjoyed. The Wife had the lamb, which I thought was quite good from the couple of bites I had. It came with an Israeli cous cous that was very tasty. I had a bite of the scallops. I thought they were cooked perfectly (nice sear on the outside, a little short of cooked through on the inside). The whole dish had a bold smokiness that I enjoyed, but I could see how this might not be for everyone. The 4th member of our table had the halibut that was pronounced "excellent".

We had 4 desserts to share across the table. I wound up with the gooey brownie in front of me, which I was reluctant to share with the rest of the table. Basically, this is everything I love in desserts on one plate (chocolate, peanut butter, banana). The rice crispy treats were a big hit, especially when eaten in combination with the strawberry and rhubarb they are accompanied by. I wasn't nuts about the peach cobbler, but I really enjoyed the creme brulee (probably because I was the biggest coconut fan at our table).

Service was outstanding. Our server Jim who we know from several other restaurants is a real pro. He guided us through the menu and wine list expertly. He and many of the other members of the staff we spoke to are very excited and very passionate about the food and the restaurant. Jim was also nice enough to bring out 4 glasses of Muscat with dessert.

After dinner we decided to hang out in the lounge for a bit and try some cocktails. I had the London Calling, which is their take on a Pimm's Cup. I'm no cocktail expert, but I really enjoyed the drink. Very refreshing on a hot summer night. While we were having cocktails, Chef GEB came out to say hello, and his excitement over what was going on was just great to see. He was definitely exuding a "now the chains are off" kind of exuberance.

I have always been a huge fan of Chef Bowles' cooking, so I probably went into this meal a little bit biased. We had eaten at Avenues while he was there 3 times, and enjoyed each meal immensely. So, it was so great to be in an environment that was completely of the Chef's design, eating the food that he wants to be serving in an environment that he wants to be serving it. Incidentally, strip out a luxury ingredient or two, add a bit more whimsy, and this is basically what he was cooking at Avenues. But now you can get it at about half the price, and you can wear jeans.

One other thing...the foie-li-pop is on the late night menu. Two for $7. We had a round before out appetizers and they were just as good as they were at Avenues. Frozen foie covered in Pop Rocks. One more reason to love Graham Elliot.

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/


#26 Alchemist

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 10:40 AM

Is there a bar where one can have a cocktail and/or eat with out a rezo?

Toby



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#27 jesteinf

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 11:03 AM

Is there a bar where one can have a cocktail and/or eat with out a rezo?

Toby

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Yes, there is a bar and lounge area that has communal tables.

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/


#28 Lenski

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 11:15 AM

We also ate there last week. It is a very nice space, simple.

We had a couple of cocktails but the real standout for me was not a cocktail per se but their take on "Sangría," and "Bloody Mary." The former has a sangría sorbet/granita-like texture at the bottom, and pieces of orange/clementine? and apple. The BM has its tomato concoction and a horseradish foam/ice-cream? on top. Fantastic.

The food was fine, the serving size is more than generous. I could have done with half of the Ceasar Salad, and the short ribs; Chef GE's take on Stroganoff. THe scallops were incredible, served on top of a pea purée. Simple but effective. The gnocchi were good, but too many elements that did not coalesce into a truly satisfying dish; and also the portion was huge.
I did not care much for the lamb, nor for their gazpacho (a little bland).
One of the dishes had a shallot marmalade, but I have forgotten which one. I think it is symptomatic of the layering of too many elements.
For dessert, we all shared the brownie. It was fine.

Good service and very good drinks. I was surprised at the bill. In my opinion, expensive for what I had. Drinks were regularly priced, although the specialty drinks added a significant amount. However, it is a good place.

#29 ulterior epicure

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 09:43 AM

I FINALLY got out to graham elliot. Here's an excerpt from my blog post.

I had forgotten that chicken could taste this good. Although the menu indicated that it was poached, I suspect it had undergone some kind of Hogwarts treatment. It was the most tender and flavorful plate of chicken I've had in too many years. Even my friend, who has a hard and fast rule about not eating chicken (the reasons are very vague and confusing to me), was convinced to take a bite of the roulade of breast meat. She agreed that it was mighty fine chicken.

...he's earned the ability to strike out under his own brand of culinary artistry.

He calls it "bistronomy" - "redefining fine dining." This is *not* Avenues, where he reigned as chef supreme for four wonderful years. This is Elliotland, a personalized playground for the adult kid that he is. It's complete with (you can precede each of the following with "great") food, drinks, a website, and a soundtrack. It's the kind of place that you want to go with good friends, which is what I did.

It's no secret that Bowles and I are acquainted. For months, I had been keeping up with him about the progress of the restaurant. He had shown me the restaurant space in March. At that time, it was an empty shell. I wouldn't know it from a condemned warehouse. He told me, optimistically, that he aimed for the restaurant to open in late May/early June.

Knowing the way restaurant openings usually go, I took this as "code" for late October/early November.

But, true to his word, graham elliot opened on time - sadly, long before I managed to make my way to Chicago again.

So, I sat on the sidelines watching as food bloggers and others reported back about their experiences.

From the U-shaped bar to the floor plan, the website, the color scheme, and the atmosphere, the restaurant is exactly as Chef Bowles had described it to me five months earlier.

The menu is divided into four categories: Cold and Hot (both starters) and Sea and Land (main courses). Of course, there's a dessert menu as well.

Portions are what I call "big boy" sizes. You definitely won't walk away hungry. Everything, be it salad or side of hoofed animal is served on the same fifteen-inch (guestimating) white enamel plates (from IKEA).

You also won't walk away terribly broke either. Although the prices aren't exactly cheap ($9-$15 for starters; $27-$33 main courses), value is high and the execution is superb. The average tab for a three-course meal with a drink is probably approaching, if not just a little past $60.

My two friends and I each ordered two starters (I had two Cold and my friends had one Cold and Hot each). They each ordered one main course and I asked if Chef could split a fish and a meat for me, which he agreed to do (I couldn't decide what to order, so I just left it up to him). But, he also sent out a second round of full-sized main courses for my friends (which were comped), just so they wouldn't feel left out. We had PLENTY of food.

Here is what we ordered:

Cold
Slow Roasted Beets
Kobe Beef Tartar
Ahi Tuna Carpaccio

Hot
Creamy Artichoke Bisque
Truffled Potato Gnocchi

Sea
Lake Superior Whitefish
Grilled Hawaiian Wahoo

Land
Poached Organic Chicken
Rosemary Scented Lamb
Short Rib Stroganoff
Pork Prime Rib

Dessert
Molten Carrot Cake
Vanilla Bean Semifreddo
Sour Lemon Napoleon


Each season paints the restaurant with a new color and vegetable/fruit theme. As you can see from my photos, summer = yellow. The dining was awash in yellow light (one that had a food blogger-proof frequency that disarmed my camera's white balance function). Double-mirrored showcases set into the exposed brick wall displayed lemons that seemed to stretch into infinity. Autumn will bring orange lights and pumpkins; winter, white lights with herbs (that's when I need to return for some color-adjusted photos); and spring, green lights (I can't wait to see my pictures from THAT meal) with mushrooms.

On a mid-week night, the restaurant was humming by 6pm when I arrived at the bar for a pre-dinner drink, packed by 8 when we were mid-meal, and empty - almost clearing out instantly - by a quarter after 10 when we finished. There's a definite rhythm to this operation.

Chef sent out his signature "Foielipop" as a pre-dinner lagniappe - a ball of foie gras mousse coated in pop rocks on a lolipop stick. Along with it came a glass of NV Dampierre Grande Cuvee Champagne, on the house. I don't think of champagne and foie gras as a particularly intuitive pairing. It's not. But champagne with pop rocks was something else. Try it sometime.

Having eaten at Avenues quite a few times, most recently in March just before Chef Bowles's departure from The Peninsula, I had gotten a preview of graham elliot's menu. For example, the Aged Cheddar Risotto on the Hot portion of the menu is a slightly tweaked version of the "Risotto" I had at Avenues, rife with apples, bacon and cheddar, and garnished with Cheez-It crackers. Spicy Buffalo Chicken is a chicken variation of the "Quail," with the same accompaniments: celeriac slaw, "bleu" cheese, hot sauce, and Budweiser beer froth. And his famous "Romaine" now appears on the menu as GE Caesar Salad, still with the romaine lettuce, Spanish boquerones, and brioche "Twinkies" filled with Parmesan mascarpone.

The Kobe Beef Tartare on graham elliot's menu is a course that I've seen evolve over the course of a few years. The "Tartare" course I had at Avenues over two years ago was an early prototype. It featured Wagyu beef tartare on a carpet of parsley panna cotta and topped with a horseradish beignet and Bearnaise sauce gelato. More recently, it had developed so that the tartare sat on a Bearnaise sauce panna cotta and was topped with smoked ice cream. Now, the beef is topped with a Bearnaise sauce gelee, watercress, smoked ice cream and a potato chips.

At Avenues, the hallmark of Chef Bowles's cooking was the ability to ingeniously embody wit in dainty and finessed forms. At graham elliot, Chef Bowles sets this playfulness right side up and presents himself, unplugged.

I mean, the food is still witty - like the Lake Superior Whitefish, which was a clever stab at a German fish fry, with a saucy tartar flecked with bits of tart relish, vinegary potato and cabbage salads and a fried pickle - or the Short Rib Stroganoff, a flashback to the 70's family meal, which featured a hunk of short rib meat on a bed of egg noodles with crimini mushrooms and ladled with peppery creme fraiche.

And, it's still playful - preying upon a weakness of mine, the restaurant serves (lime and brown butter) popcorn instead of bread.

But, gone are the smug quotes. There are no more cute, rehearsed theatrics or table-side presentations. If you tap into the wit - like the Molten Carrot Cake (I can't help but laugh at the commentary it makes on *that* chocolate version), which has a cream cheese core and is sided by sour cream ice cream raisin compote, and a shard of crunchy walnut brittle - great. If not, the food speaks for itself.

The food is simple, big, and bold, like the Prime Pork Rib, the juiciest and most flavorful pork chop I've ever had; it put the Berkshire Pork "2 Ways" that I had at Justus Drugstore last year, to shame. Double cut and the size of a small MACK truck, Bowles's version came glazed with a sweet barbecue sauce on a bed of creamy grits, braised collard greens, and topped with a peach chutney. My friends and I joked that the dish should be renamed OINK; there's really no other way to describe it or one's reaction to it.

There was also a Slow Roasted Beet salad, with hazelnuts and whipped chevre. Truffled Potato Gnocchi was a comforting dish of fluffy gnocchi and asparagus tossed with truffle oil and topped with a fried egg with a runny yolk. And a savory Creamy Artichoke Bisque found a wonderful contrast in tart preserved lemons, sweet onion jam, and crispy fried leeks.

The only dish that I'm not sure worked for me (although my friends loved it) was the Ahi Tuna Carpaccio. There was perhaps a little too much activity on the plate: the tissue-thin slices of tuna were accompanied by crushed Marcona almonds and sided by a creamy chickpea salad topped with pimento foam and crispy sheets of Serrano ham. While the throw towards Spain was interesting, I'm not sure it was my style. I wanted to taste more of the tuna.

The three desserts that we tried were all very good. My favorite was probably the Sour Lemon Napoleon, which found pucker-tart lemon curd sandwiched between crisp layers of basil-flocked phyllo. The stack was sided by blueberry sorbet. Being the closest thing to ice cream on the menu, I naturally enjoyed the Vanilla Bean Semifreddo. It had a pina colada appeal. The dome of fluffy white frozen mousse-like cream was garnished with toasted coconut and sided by soft, stewed dices of pineapple.

Service was great. I told Chef Bowles that it was like Avenues without the raised pinky. The staff all sport casual brown button-ups, jeans, and sneakers. Jim Colombo, whom had cooked for me last time at Avenues, is now managing the front of the house at graham elliot. It's the kitchen's loss, but the dining room's gain. He welcomed my friends and me and floated around the dining room making sure everything and everyone was taken care of.

A few other notes:

1. The noise and energy levels were high; it's definitely not a place for a quiet and intimate night out.

2. There's a copper-top hightop near in the bar area that seats up to 10. It's great for a large group or for communal eating. Chef Bowles is having the restaurant's name stenciled and cut out of the copper so that the table can be lit from underneath.

3. graham elliot has it's own water filtration and carbonation system. All of the water for the restaurant is bottled in personalized "ge" glass bottles that not only save on waste, but are pretty darn cool to look at.

4. The wine is organized by menu sections: Cold, Hot, Sea, Land, and Sweets. There's also a funny and witty assortment of cocktails (unfortunately, I didn't get to try any) and a spirits and beer list. I let our server, Patrick, pair two beers for my main courses. He poured Two Brothers Ebel Weiss with the Lake Superior Whitefish and the Goose Island Oatmeal Stout with the Rosemary-Scented Lamb (which, was so tender and moist that I mistook leg for tenderloin. It was amazing.). Both pairings worked very well. The stout went even better with the Short Rib Stroganoff.

I have to admit, being friends with Elliot and the house, I was nervous about my visit: what if I didn't like it? Thankfully, I didn't have to negotiate that bridge.

Chef Bowles, if you're reading, I loved the food, the atmosphere, and the service. When you're having this much fun, you're critic-proof. graham elliot is a winner. I can't wait to get back.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

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#30 ulterior epicure

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 04:05 PM

Listen up all you foieheads out there: In conjunction with Lollapalooza 2008, Chef Graham Elliot Bowles will be celebrating the return of foie gras, legally, to Chicago with Foielapalooza, "a three-day foie gras and music extravaganza featuring a nightly changing foie preparation inspired by and served with music from that evening's headlining act."

August 1: Radiohead
Foie Gras in Rainbows: Grilled foie gras with stewed blackberries, dehydrated raspberries, strawberry puree, blueberry air.

August 2: Wilco
Yankee Hotel Foie Gras: Cornnut-crusted foie gras with corn foam, caramel corn, popcorn shoots, candy corn Sunday.

August 3: Nine Inch Nails
Head Like a Foie:
Poached foie gras torchon with black olive, black pepper, black licorice, aged balsamic.
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”
Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com