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ChefGEB

Avenues Restaurant To Get 2004 F&W Best New Chef

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We're going to Avenues on Friday night for my birthday! I hope it's good. We know the sommelier there, Aaron, who used to work at TRU. So I'm hoping this will help contribute to a better experience than Suzy had.

BTW, Suzy, what was the special occasion? Care to share? :wink:


Edited by gmi3804 (log)

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The former sommelier from Tru, now at Avenues, is Aaron. (not Alan :wink: )

Hope it's a great experience.

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We're going to Avenues on Friday night for my birthday!  I hope it's good.  We know the sommelier there, Aaron, who used to work at TRU.  So I'm hoping this will help contribute to a better experience than Suzy had.

Sorry, just want to clarify that Aaron was the real redeeming thing about my trip to Avenues. The wine pairings were fantastic, a real treat and I'm glad to report that the cellar has improved dramatically since the restaurants last incarnation.

BTW, Suzy, what was the special occasion? Care to share? :wink:

Isn't me being in Chicago always a special occasion?? :wink:


Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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We're going to Avenues on Friday night for my birthday!  I hope it's good.  We know the sommelier there, Aaron, who used to work at TRU.  So I'm hoping this will help contribute to a better experience than Suzy had.

Sorry, just want to clarify that Aaron was the real redeeming thing about my trip to Avenues. The wine pairings were fantastic, a real treat and I'm glad to report that the cellar has improved dramatically since the restaurants last incarnation.

Do you know if they will do wine pairings if the regular four-course menu is ordered?

BTW, Suzy, what was the special occasion?  Care to share?  :wink:

Isn't me being in Chicago always a special occasion?? :wink:

But of COURSE! :biggrin:

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i believe they will pair for the 4 course...i just get the feeling you're in good hands with aaron.


Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Thanks Chef, for the update. :smile:

I read in this week's installment of Chicago Magazine's Dish, that you have re-united with pastry chef Brian Schoenbeck, with whom you worked at Trotter's back in 1999.  It sounds like you two have a great rapport.

=R=

Ronnie, I was wondering if you could give me a direct link to the article in Chicago mag with Brian Shoenback?

I went to the site and couldn't tell if it was available or not.

Much thanks in any event.

BTW, I downloaded the PDF's for the menu and it sure is exciting.

The dessert menus are very ambitious and interesting.

Pretty heavy emphasis on cheese in it, that's different!

I hope everything has evened out there and I wish both chefs much success!


2317/5000

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i believe they will pair for the 4 course...i just get the feeling you're in good hands with aaron.

you are in good hands with aaron-lively, open, enthused, he is. i worked with him for over two years. just the same, changes take time to acclimate, no?

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Sorry, I don't understand. What do you mean "changes take time to acclimate, no?"?

Could be the good old US-UK translation isn't working, but I really don't get what you're trying to say.


Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Sorry, I don't understand. What do you mean "changes take time to acclimate, no?"?

Could be the good old US-UK translation isn't working, but I really don't get what you're trying to say.

Translated as :'It takes time for changes to acclimate/customize to their present venue.'

Tarka, is it London from where you've come? Lovely city.

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We had a wonderful dinner at Avenues last night! Aaron, the sommelier, admitted to us that he "inherited" much of the wine list from the previous Avenues incarnation (lots of "corporate" selections and selections which were added to unload previous wine merchants' inventories), and that he's working very hard to make it more significant and in keeping with the new direction of the Chef. And we did meet ChefGEB, and he was most gracious. His food is cutting-edge, and worthy of such a stunning room. The tables are very well-spaced, and the service is absolute perfection! We had the seven-course Grand Tasting (there was also a twelve-course "Chef's Whim" menu, which we thought would be too much), with "special" wine pairings; Aaron wanted us to try different wines which he was testing with different dishes, so as a result would often bring out one or two different wines per course for us to try and give our brutally honest thoughts about. After three or four courses, we had to ask him to give slightly smaller pours, as we had to drive home after dinner (not that we didn't contemplate getting a suite for the night, but we have a demanding Cocker Spaniel at home!) All in all, a first-rate meal; over time, the experience will only get better as the wine list is tweaked and personalized to the unique menu.

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Occasionally, there arrives a Chef of such startling originality that you’re forced to recalibrate what fine dining is all about. Graham Eliot Bowles isn’t that Chef. Comparisons with Achatz, Cantu, Dufresne and Blumental aside, Bowles cooks good food, but comments about wild and daring originality are very wide of the mark. He says on his website “One must seek out new ingredients and techniques with an almost frightening zeal” however he obviously forgot to utilise any of these when I ate there last week.

I admit, I had high expectations and I left very disappointed. With hindsight I’ve come to realise that the food at Avenues is good, some even excellent. In the same way that the food at Tru is good. But there was certainly very little innovation, playfulness or reinvention in evidence in the “Chef’s Whim” tasting menu that I ate. We gave the kitchen some reasonably loose guidance about what we wanted (my dining companion eats no meat at all, I just don’t eat any red meat) but we were treated to a progression of fish dishes that mean we know what Chef Bowles can do with a fish, but not a huge amount else. A chiaroscuro of the sea, if you like. Compared to the structured progressions that I have come to expect from fine dining, the meal lacked pace, depth and contrast.

Some dishes do remain in the memory. “lobster, potato, chamomile, consommé” is a reinterpretation of pot au feu. It was playful dish with the sweetness of the lobster and the carrot echoing each other very well. However, the components of the dish lacked contrast and it came hot on the heels of a lobster with white truffle dish at ADNY a couple of days before that has probably ruined lobster for me for the next 6 months. So I can’t really blame Chef Bowles for that…”Chestnut, pear, brioche, sage” was a silken chestnut soup that did inject a little variety into the meal. This, along with “risotto, truffle, parsley, sage” were welcome counterpoints to the rest of the fish. But where were the frog's legs as advertised on the ALC? They were well within my dietary guidelines.

Outstanding dish of the night? “scallop, eggnog, endive, pumpkin” was live scallop supported by lots of autumnal flavours. I found it utterly charming, a true new American dish and an exciting fusing of warming and sweet flavours with a squeaking fresh scallop. Paired with a Tokay Pinot Gris Domaine Weinbach this was the food and wine pairing of the evening.

Chef Bowles says on his website “The cook must never take for granted the fact that someone is putting their trust in you” I did that by ordering the tasting menu, and feel that I didn’t really get to experience what his vision is about. Cooking at this level is all about detail and commitment. Our menu lacked detail in the progression and it felt like Chef Bowles became bored of sending food to us and just moved us through to desert. A desert of such unspeakable horror (something to do with gingerbread and cherries) that he decided to not mention it on the menu I was given as I left. Which was another detail that rankled. The (signed!!!!!) menus we were given wasn’t what we ate. Mine didn’t even have the right date on it. If Chef Bowles really is “looking to surpass every guests expectations” (sic) he needs to get things like this right. He might also want to make sure that his waitstaff pick up on when people are left handed, make sure that people are given water without ice if that’s what they order and get back to any queries that guests have. The current incarnation of the service (wine excepted) does not match the intentions of the food.

I think I will go back. But it’s not a destination restaurant for me at the moment. Maybe Chef Bowles needs some more to get settled. Maybe he needs to think a little more about his voice and vision. Because it feels to me like his website talks about things that his restaurant just doesn’t deliver on.


Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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I just wanted to let everybody know that Avenues, which Chicago Magazine recently awarded four stars, is no longer considering itself to have seafood driven cuisine. With the new team in the kitchen, we are striving to be more of a contemporary restaurant. We feel that without the restraints that come with putting yourselves into any one category, we can be more open to change and spontaneity. That being said, I look forward to cooking for you all soon, and until then, happy holidays.

ChefGEB


Graham Elliot

@grahamelliot

www.grahamelliot.com

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Thanks for the update, Chef.

And congrats not only on the 4-star rating but also on the other favorable ink in the January 2005 issue of Chicago Magazine. Nice job!

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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holy shit, what an accomplishment at such a young age................

congratulations chef bowles, I'm sure it is well deserved, hard work and dedication to your craft has paid off

sean in nashville

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More accolades for Chef Bowles. In the February 2005 issue of North Shore Magazine, Sherman Kaplan gives Avenues perfect 20 "K/Rating":

I came away recently from Avenues with a truly memorable dining experience.  Recent tweaking, including the hiring of executive chef Graham Elliot Bowles has yielded vast dividends.
Chef Bowles' way with seafood is exceptional.  Like many of his contemporaries he is interested in Asian fusion but in a rather avant-garde sense.  So hamachi, or yellowtail, is presented as sashimi.  An artistically arranged platter is festooned with pickled shiitakes, dabs of caramelized soy sauce and yuzo foam . . . I admit that foam garnishes are just a little too precious for my interests.  Nevertheless, there is artistry here that should not be denied.

Congrats again, Chef Bowles. Great ink!

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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The team at Avenues thanks all of the egullet community for their continued support in what we do. We look forward to cooking for all of you in the near future!

Chef GEB

www.gebowles.com


Graham Elliot

@grahamelliot

www.grahamelliot.com

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My girlfriend and I went to Avenues last night to celebrate our anniversary. I made the reservation before the 4-star review in the Sun-Times, but seeing that review made me want to go even more. Here's the report...

We both went with the Chef's Palate, 9 courses chosen by the chef. My girlfriend doesn't eat red meat or poultry, but that was the only restriction we gave. We did a bottle of 99 Poligny-Montrachet from Paul Pernot with the meal.

Amuse - Deconstructed clam chowder. The flavors of clam chowder (potato, clam, bacon, etc), all served on a tiny spoon. A very promising start to the meal.

1st course - Potato and leek terrine. Very refreshing first course with a good contrast of flavors (earthy potatoes, pickled onions or leeks (I'm sure Chef GEB will correct me), and salty caviar).

2nd course - Sashimi of hamachi, with soy, yuzu foam and shitake mushrooms. This tied for my favorite dish of the night. It came in a large bowl, with the slices of hamachi clinging to the sides, along with the soy and pickled shitakes. The yuzu foam was in the center at the bottom of the bowl. Again, it was the combination of flavors that really made this dish work. The sweetness of the fish and yuzu, contrasted nicely with the soy and the slightly sour pickled shitakes. Delicious.

3rd course - Foie-lipop. Most creative dish of the night. Basically a foie gras lollipop, with the foie gras frozen on the end of a stick. Served with a roasted apple. I'd love to know how this was done. The only comparable dish I've ever had was the "menage-a-foie" at Commander's Palace which included foie gras ice cream. I also could have used some guidance eating the lollipop. I wound up eating it in two bites, which was both fantastic, and a bit overwhelming.

4th course - Frogs legs with truffled risotto. Tasted like chicken. Just kidding, this was actually my other favorite dish of the night. Truffles, risotto, garlic...how can you go wrong? For this course my girlfriend was served a live scallop dish which she described as "the best scallops I've ever had".

5th course - Lobster pot au feau. Lobster broth with nice size chunks of tail and claw meat with vegetables. Not that inventive, but still quite tasty. I would love to eat this on a cold, cold night.

6th course - Sea bass with raison chutney and spinach. Very nice piece of fish. Crispy on top with flaky juicy meat. The raisons added a really nice sweetness to the fish.

7th course - Chorizo crusted cod. This dish I was actually looking forward to the most, but it just didn't live up to my expectations. The flavors of the dish didn't really pop for me until I combined the fish with the vegetables served with it. This was served to my girlfriend without the chorizo, which actually made for a fairly bland dish. I would suggest serving something different for this course for guests who don't eat meat.

8th course - Buffalo short ribs with grits and swiss chard. At this point I was feeling pretty stuffed, which is unfortunate because this was delicious. The meat was tender as could be, and the grits provided a salty compliment to the short ribs.

9th course - Dessert, and I'm ready to give up. Oaxan chocolate with beet ice cream. I love it when you can have a chocolate based dessert that isn't too rich. Probably a good thing given how stuffed I was at this point. Nice way to end the meal.

All in all, a fantastic meal. It definitely started stronger than it ended, but overall we couldn't have been happier. Good luck to Chef GEB as he takes his place among the best in Chicago.


-Josh

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

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I just wanted to add an update here regarding Avenues. We are now offering four seperate six course tasting menus to choose from ("Vegetable", "Seafood", "Protein" and "Grand"), as well as our Chef's Palate Menu (9-12 courses). You can view the current spring menus with the following link. We look forward to cooking for you soon.

http://chicago.peninsula.com/pch/pdfs/spring_2005.pdf

Regards,

ChefGEB


Graham Elliot

@grahamelliot

www.grahamelliot.com

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Avenues is currently featured in the "On the Menu" section of the May 2 issue of Nation's Restaurant News:

. . . New chef Graham Elliott Bowles, 28, who was one of Food & Wine magazine's best new chefs in 2004 while he was at Jackson House Inn in Woodstock, Vt., is turning heads at his new digs, where he has been making waves since he came aboard last fall. Bowles has changed everything about the former menu. The chef, who describes the pre-Bowles restaurant as heavily "seafood and formal," calls his new spring menu "contemporary" in its combinations of both traditional and avant-garde styles. . .

On the Menu - Avenues (free subscription required)

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Congratulations to Chef Bowles and his team. In his re-review of Avenues in today's Chicago Tribune, Phil Vettel upgrades Avenues from 3.5 to 4 stars.

Chef de cuisine Graham Elliot Bowles is 28 years old and running out of worlds to conquer. He has worked at Tru and Charlie Trotter's. He garnered a Top Ten New Chefs award from Food & Wine magazine for his work at the Jackson House Inn & Restaurant in Vermont.

Now he has taken Avenues, the luxurious dining room inside the Peninsula Chicago, to the four-star level.

Well deserved, IMO. Congrats and keep up the fantastic work!


-Josh

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

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