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Avenues Restaurant To Get 2004 F&W Best New Chef


ChefGEB
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I have had a busy week and am not quite ready with the dinner photos and descriptions but I will post a few photos of the kitchen now to whet some appetites. :wink:

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More to come in a little while :smile:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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docsconz- cant wait to see the dinner photos!

U.E.- Nice pics on your last trip to Avenues! looks like the tasting menu went to a complete change from this past winter. everything still looks fantastic. It will be a while for me before I dine at Avenues again...in the process of buying a house, i think i can sacrifice for a few months. :smile:

...a little bit of this, and a little bit of that....*slurp......^_^.....ehh I think more fish sauce.

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Here are a few more kitchen photos. I won't be able to get to the dinner for a little while yet.

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Notice the background.

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Notice the foreground.

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Yes, that is a whole lobe of foie gras. :wink:

Edited by docsconz (log)

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Dinner at Avenues - The Chef's Palate

6-10-2006

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Amuse - Liquid filled warm gougere. Excellent mouth feel and flavor. This was a nice start. It seemed as if it would be one thing, but turned out to have a very nice twist.

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Amuse - This was not specifically listed on my menu. I believe this was tuna with fava puree and foie gras juice, but I can be very wrong on that other than for the tuna. I do remember enjoying it.

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SCALLOP, fennel, caviar, apple and foie gras custard.

This was a nice dish that fared equally visually as gustatorially.

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ASPARAGUS, bacon, egg, cheese, foie gras torchon.

This fine dish had several different kinds of asparagus in it including wild asparagus. The torchon was exceedingly decadent. The combination was a major winner.

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KANGAROO, lime, eucalyptus, melon, foie gras snow.

I found this dish too sweet for my taste. The object according to Chef Bowles is for the sweetness in the dish to play off the spicy coating of the kangaroo. When I mentioned my response to the dish to Chef Bowles, he thought that maybe the balance was adversely affected by decreasing the amount of kangaroo in the dish for the tasting menu. The regular portion has more kangaroo, the richness and spice of which should play off the sweetness better.

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FOIE-LAVA filo, honey, pistachio, foie gras lollipop

Though difficult to eat gracefully, the dish was delicious and decadent. The foie gras lollipop, one of Chef GEB's signatures will be missed.

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RISOTTO fern, nettles, grenouilles, foie gras emulsion

This was the other disappointing dish of the evening for the simple reason that it was underseasoned.

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Chef GEB explaining the next dish.

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PEA, yogurt, lavender, marshmallow.

This intermezzo was a foie-less palate cleanser. I love fresh spring pea and this did not disappoint.

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Cherf GEB with the prepared foie gras lobe.

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Marianne sauteeing at her station. It was a pleasure to watch her and her colleagues cook. They were efficient and professional.

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ROUGET, polenta, caper, raisin, foie gras vinaigrette

The nicely butchered rouget provided a lovely backdrop to the dish's supporting flavors.

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RABBIT fava, artichoke, violet, foie gras mousse

This was one of my favorites of the evening. Each element of this dish was stunning both on the plate and in the mouth. It incorporated different elements of rabbit including loin, kidneys and "bacon". The latter would be the next craze if it was easier to harvest in quantity. The mousse provided a rich foil for the delicate meat.

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Preparing the next course, a combination of two elements.

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BEEF truffle, potato, merlot, seared foie gras

LAMB, cauliflower, couscous, altoid, foie gras juices

This plate artfully combined two courses, both exceptional. The lamb was particularly noteworthy as the balance of the "altoid" was such that it worked beautifully. Any less and it would not have been noticeable and any more would have been overpowering. This was both clever and delicious.

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FROMAGE beet, almond, honey, foie gras brioche

This was a great composed cheese course, perhaps the best I have had since Sant Pau outside Barcelona. The cheeses consisted of a 9y/o cheddar and a couple others that I hate to admit the names of which escape my memory. :sad: Perhaps one of the other diners can specify them.

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S'MORES graham, marshmallow, chocolate, foie gras milkshake

While the whole dessert was very good, I loved the milk shake. With all the foie gras permeating the meal, one might have thought that I would have been sick of it by then, but one would have been wrong. :laugh:

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MIGNARDISES

A nice cap to the meal. I finished feeling pleasantly, but not overly full. The amount of food was spot on for me. I will leave it for the other members of our party to discuss the wines should any be so inclined.

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In the kitchen with Chef GEB and his staff. We were served an excellent meal worth travelling to Chicago for. It was also a meal that illustrated what Chicago will be missing when the foie gras ban goes into effect.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Great shots Doc!

I'll just add a couple of my thoughts...

- The scallop was one of the cooler dishes of the night. While the foie gras panna cotta was awesome, the addition of Pop Rocks made the dish unique to Chef GEB. I'm not sure how much they added to the dish taste-wise, they were just cool.

- The asparagus was probably my favorite dish of the night. Either that or the beef/lamb/foie combo towards the end. Fresh asparagus, bacon, egg...how can you go wrong?

- I was very disappointed with the risotto as well. Just drastically underseasoned. For me, the widest miss of the night.

- When the lamb/beef/foie dish came out, I thought it would be completely overwhelming. Boy was I wrong. The tastes and the interaction of all of the flavors on the plate made this a wonderful dish. It's hard to describe, but everything was just a bit more "subtle" than I thought it would be. Extra props to my girlfriend for polishing off this dish like a champ.

- These cheese was great. The brioche cooked in foie was nice at first, but I thought got a bit too overpowering as I made my way through the course.

- As Doc said, this meal was a perfect amount of food. I left full, but satisfied and certainly not uncomfortable.

- Chef GEB and the rest of the staff could not have been nicer. We were extremely well taken care of all night. Quick story: At one point my water glass was refilled with sparkling water when I had been drinking still (and still had about half a glass left). I leaned over and laughed about it to my girlfriend at no louder than a whisper. Within a minute, my glass had been taken, replaced with a new glass and filled with still water. Great save by the staff.

Again, thanks to Chef GEB and the rest of the Avenues team for a great night.

ETA - One more thing...I thought the kangaroo course was sweet, but not overly so. My only issue was that this course combined with the following course of the foie-lava made for two "sweet" courses in a row, which I wasn't crazy about. Both courses were great independently, but one after the other was not the greatest progression for me.

Edited by jesteinf (log)

-Josh

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

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Doc,

Nice photos of Chef GEB's creations!!! I have been awaiting the show. How did you like eating at the Chef's bar vs. sitting at a table??

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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doc & co.

i'm thrilled to see that elliot is still churning out top-rated stuff. great pictures, great report - i wish i could have been there!

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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Doc,

        Nice photos of Chef GEB's creations!!! I have been awaiting the show. How did you like eating at the Chef's bar vs. sitting at a table??

Molto E

This was my first experience at Avenues. I have never sat at a table there, but I must say I enjoyed sitting at the bar immensely. It was perhaps not as romantic as a table, but it was a great show. The biggest difference for us food-photo fetishests was the lighting. It was quite decent at the bar, but rather dark at the tables. Much harder to get usable pics that way. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Doc,

        Nice photos of Chef GEB's creations!!! I have been awaiting the show. How did you like eating at the Chef's bar vs. sitting at a table??

Molto E

This was my first experience at Avenues. I have never sat at a table there, but I must say I enjoyed sitting at the bar immensely. It was perhaps not as romantic as a table, but it was a great show. The biggest difference for us food-photo fetishests was the lighting. It was quite decent at the bar, but rather dark at the tables. Much harder to get usable pics that way. :wink:

Hooray for the bar, indeed! :smile:

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Now having eaten at both the bar and a table, I like them both but for different purposes. Sitting at the bar allows you to focus more on the food, as the Chef and cooks are right there presenting and explaining dishes.

On the downside, conversation becomes difficult if you are there with one or two more people. For a larger group, or a more intimate occasion with a smaller group (celebrating an anniversary, catching up old times), I would prefer a table.

-Josh

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

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Now having eaten at both the bar and a table, I like them both but for different purposes.  Sitting at the bar allows you to focus more on the food, as the Chef and cooks are right there presenting and explaining dishes. 

On the downside, conversation becomes difficult if you are there with one or two more people.  For a larger group, or a more intimate occasion with a smaller group (celebrating an anniversary, catching up old times), I would prefer a table.

That makes sense. The one downside of sitting at the bar with our group of six was that it was difficult if not impossible for all six to converse with each other. That was also true at Minibar in DC. Since I was in the middle at Avenues, I had the best of both worlds :smile:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I too, have now eaten at the Chef's Bar and at a regular table at Avenues and I prefer the Bar, with the one caveat being what Josh mentioned: it's hard to chat with your whole group when you're sitting in that configuration. OTOH, I loved being closer to the action and asking questions of the chefs while the cooking was happening.

Doc, thanks for the great pics! I'm remembering our awesome meal all over again. I've been on vacation with very limited access but I will come back shortly and add some more comments about our most recent experience there.

=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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Doc and UE: Your photos are just simply GORGEOUS.  Very professional both in composition, and focus.  Thank you! (the writing is wonderful as well)

Thanks for reading it. While I document meals like this primarily for myself, it is gratifying when someone else gets something from it as well. Your comments and others are appreciated. Welcome to eGullet!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 weeks later...

All of a sudden I am craving Rouget with Foie Gras Vin....mmm midnight snack :biggrin:

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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  • 3 weeks later...

The very next night after dining at Tru, I ate at the kitchen bar of Avenues. This was my first time being here and at first I was hoping that Tru wouldn't spoil my dinner at Avenues. It' didn't even come close. The food at Avenues is on the money.

I had the Chef's Palate Tasting Menu with a couple of courses including foie gras.

I really felt that Avenues presents food in an exciting way especially in certain courses poking fun at classical preparations. There's a little bit of that *wink*wink* in the food that makes you just smile without tasting a thing. Then you taste it and all of a sudden you think how genius the flavor combinations are.

This dish was pretty much

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Amuse Bouche: I want to say it was corn panna cotta or something like that with a crab salad, instructed to swirl everything together and all I can remember was that it was tasty and how thinking how nice it is to have it in a glass instead a plate, it's much easier to control mixing of the ingredients.

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The Bread Service: I love having a variety of butters, in this case there were three. Although I can't remember exactly what the different kinds were. I think it was some sort of Salted, Unsalted, and Parmesan? Not sure.. Also, the breads change throughout the courses so they match better with what you are eating. It makes total sense, I love it.

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Deconstructed Caeser Salad is what Im talking about when I say "poke fun"/*wink*wink*. The Savory Twinkie of Brioche filled with garlic Mascarpone. Im not much for subtle flavors and with ChefGEB's food that's not the case. This whole salad had lots of punch and no hidden flavors or textures. This is one of the main themes I found throughout the meal. Flavors were key throughout the night.

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Tomato Confit with Tomato Water, and the Goat cheese Ice cream is amazing. The tartness and sweetness of the tomatoes play so well with the sweet and creamy ice cream (it also had this diserable stickiness to it..gooey goodness)along with a palate cleanser in the tomato water. It's just good stuff, it's that simple. The Basil Marshmellow was also another fun component of this dish.

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Kind of like a deconstructed Clam Chowder in a dry form. The potato Terrine and all of the other accompaniments work well because they use classical flavor combinations in a different way. It was great but I wish there was some sort of sauce or something. Again, lots of flavor, you knew exactly what they were going for.

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Mmm I like Kangaroo! Melon noodles with eucalyptus foam are balanced out by togarashi chili and the sweet caramel. The dramatic bowl effect is awesome.

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I finally got what I've always wanted to try... the foie gras lollipop. Served with soft stewed peaches, watercress puree and Chamomile Gastrique. I find the strawberry poprocks coating the foie gras make an incredible texture/flavor combination. It makes your brain go crazy! Soft buttery foie gras combined with hard popping candy

was like the ultimate taste for me.

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The ricotta gnocchi had the perfect density along with the sweet lobster and fresh favas. I wish there was a way to eat up all that truffle that went with it! ....Just stick my face in it and lick it all up :raz:

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Rouget is one of my favorite fish, so I really enjoyed this one.

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Arkansas Rabbit with Mustard Spaetzl, Arugula Coulis was a little dry for me. I felt it needed something to wet the mouth a little bit. The Rabbit was absolutely delicious, the Spaetzle was my favorite though. I don't think enough restaurants do spaetzle, it's such a good component for starch. I loved the crispiness and soft texture in the inside. I didn't realize the spaetzle had mustard in it though... but this explains everything for the next course.

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This was my favorite Course I think. Quail Roulade held with Transglutaminase , Watermelon, Sassafrass Barbeque, and Okra. The combination of everything worked so well together, the watermelon was ripe, the quail was tender, and now I want sassafrass with my barbeque now that Im back in Kansas City :wink: The funny thing though, was I could have sworn I tasted mustard in the dish. I asked one of the cooks and he asked chef Bowles and the rest of the team about it and no one knew what I was tasting... Then I realized, the mustard spaetzle must have carried through the next course on my tongue... all of a sudden I could taste mustard after eating the barbeque and watermelon. I love eating.

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Ahi Tuna, Cauliflower Puree, Heirloom Cauliflower, and Red Wine CousCous

The Cauliflower is delicous and suprisingly to me fits well with tuna.

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The Kobe Beef was delicious, I liked the black beluga lentils but I felt the dish was dry, some sort of demi or puree of some sort might have done the trick.

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Licorice Soda cleansing/cooling to the body and I was happy it wasn't extremely potent as I originally thought it would be. Smoked Cherries and Fennel round out the Explorateur.

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I could eat a whole bowl of the Creme Fraiche Ice Cream, I truely think thats the best way to use creme fraiche now... in an ice cream form.

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Guiness Chocolate Cake, Ice Cream, and this ball with chocolate oozing out of the center. I really enjoyed the foie gras milkshake, when I tell people about this... they cringe but I think if you really try it, it's pretty tasty...real tasty.

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Mignardise in a form of an ice cream sandwich.. I believe it was mint flavored? Tasty little bite.

This meal was superb in many ways, I really don't understand why the place isn't packed full every night... Everything matched well together, it was nice to see ingredients and components with a purpose on the plate. It wasn't only nicely prepared and focused food but it tasted well. It was presented in a dramatic fashion and had flare. Every dish had something "magical" about it, either in the sense of philosphy or realities of the human senses. Like one of the chefs at Avenues told me, "we aren't re-inventing the wheel here, we're just presenting the food in a different way" ... and I think that little bit of effort to present food in a different form is just enough to make great tasting food more than just that.

Oh, BTW, the parting gift of jarred honey and a poppyseed cake is great for breakfast!

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Edited by JWest (log)

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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This was my first time being here and at first I was hoping that Tru wouldn't spoil my dinner at Avenues. It' didn't even come close.
Glad to hear it!
Tomato Confit with Tomato Water, and the Goat cheese Ice cream is amazing. The tartness and sweetness of the tomatoes play so well with the sweet and creamy ice cream (it also had this diserable stickiness to it..gooey goodness)along with a palate cleanser in the tomato water. It's just good stuff, it's that simple. The Basil Marshmellow was also another fun component of this dish.

Kind of like a deconstructed Clam Chowder in a dry form. The potato Terrine and all of the other accompaniments work well because they use classical flavor combinations in a different way. It was great but I wish there was some sort of  sauce or something. Again, lots of flavor, you knew exactly what they were going for.

Wow - these two sound amazing - especiallye clam chowder. Looks beautiful!

I could eat a whole bowl of the Creme Fraiche Ice Cream, I truely think thats the best way to use creme fraiche now... in an ice cream form.
Isn't that the best way to use almost anything? :raz:
It wasn't only nicely prepared and focused food but it tasted well. It was presented in a dramatic fashion and had flare.  Every dish had something "magical" about it, either in the sense of philosphy or realities of the human senses.
Excellent summary, Joe.
Oh, BTW, the parting gift of jarred honey and a poppyseed cake is great for breakfast!
Nice touch, I hope to get my own little jar soon! :wink:

“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

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Nice report and photos. I take it that Avenues has reopened after its planned dining room facelift?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I have been doing some research and have just read this entire thread and have a few questions. I am a bit confused on the menu options at Avenues.

It seems that everyone on this board has pretty much dined at the Chef's Bar and they mention eating the Chef's Palate menu. Is this the $188 ($288 w/ wine) 20 course menu I remember reading about somewhere in the past or have you been doing the 12 course menu that is also listed on the Avenues website and simply eating it at the bar?

Everything in the pictures posted looks amazing and I am dying to try them, but I know my family would much rather eat at a table than the bar. Can this same menu (the menu seen in the pictures on this thread) be served at a table?

Also, could someone please enlighten me on the prices for all available menus and if there is a set price for wine pairings? Thanks

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babern38,

Yes, you can get the same menus at a table. Here's a pdf of a sample menu set. You'll notice there are several menu choices, and then the Chef's Palate. Looking at my copy of a menu from the last time I was there, the Palate was $138, $235 with wine pairings. The other menus were $115. Someone who's been there more recently than me can correct me if the prices have changed.

I cannot speak highly enough for the flexibility of the staff at Avenues. The sommelier staff is wonderful and very accomodating, and will happily recommend one or two glasses to pair up with several courses if you don't want to do a full tasting. They'll also open up bottles not on the by the glass list, within reason. The kitchen handled my whacky set of allergies with aplomb.

What do you mean I shouldn't feed the baby sushi?

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babern38,

Yes, you can get the same menus at a table.  Here's a pdf of a sample menu set.  You'll notice there are several menu choices, and then the Chef's Palate.  Looking at my copy of a menu from the last time I was there, the Palate was $138, $235 with wine pairings.  The other menus were $115.  Someone who's been there more recently than me can correct me if the prices have changed.

These were the prices the last time I was at the Avenues (in May). But, of course, things may have changed.

I cannot speak highly enough for the flexibility of the staff at Avenues.  The sommelier staff is wonderful and very accomodating, and will happily recommend one or two glasses to pair up with several courses if you don't want to do a full tasting.  They'll also open up bottles not on the by the glass list, within reason.  The kitchen handled my whacky set of allergies with aplomb.

Agreed. One of the most accommodating restaurants I've ever dined out.

u.e.

“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

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  • 2 months later...

From today's Chicago Tribune:

. . . Graham Elliot Bowles, chef de cuisine at Chicago's Avenues restaurant, meets Bobby Flay in an "Iron Chef" episode taping Tuesday. Air dates haven't been set yet . . .

Media Watch

Good luck, chef Bowles. I hope you obliterate him. :wink:

=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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