Chicago. What a fun city! Full of beautiful waterfront parks and walking paths, pristine landscaping, beautiful architecture, friendly people and freakin’ delicious food. A recent 3-day trip to Chicago had me planning months in advance. And of course, it was all about … you guessed it …. food!!!
The most important dinner reservation, one I have been dreaming of for months upon months, was Alinea. Chef Grant Achatz, master of molecular gastronomy, is “Food-God” to me! I have heard and read so much about him. Every time a new piece of intel about him came my way – I felt even more determined to check out his culinary creations. Alinea is a 3-Michelin star restaurant and if you begin to talk about the best restaurants in USA or even the world – this name is bound to pop up. Chef Grant’s fascinating life-story was recently showcased in season 2 of the Chef’s Table series on Netflix. This incredible chef battled tongue cancer a few years back – all the while maintaining the integrity and quality of his food. You HAVE to watch Chef Table episode about him to really appreciate the genius of this man.
Alinea, as expected, exceed all my expectations. At every turn I was amazed and wowed by creations in front of me… and each course left me wondering, “how the heck did they do that?!” The part that was the icing on this very delicious cake was, the incredibly attentive and super-friendly staff. They immediately put the diners at ease. Instead of a stuffy environment – the atmosphere was of elegance and warmth. We laughed and joked as the courses arrived at our table. At the end of the meal, I felt totally determined to come back again for more. In fact, as we were leaving, one server asked if he will see us again same time next day…. and I thought to myself, “I wish!”
Next up on the list was chef Stephanie Izzard’s newest venture, Duck Duck Goat. Yep… that’s the name of this precious restaurant! 🙂 Chef Stephanie Izzard, who was born in Chicago but grew up in Stamford CT (can you believe it?!), has made waves with her first restaurant, Girl & The Goat. She is a former winner of Bravo’s Top Chef and her style is truly bold and unique. Duck Duck Goat offers an Asian inspired menu. The very first disclaimer you come across is that their food is “reasonably authentic”. Ha! Because as we started chowing down on the yummy dumplings, the shrimp toast…. and I believe what was THE BEST Mapo Doufu I have ever had…. I became a die-hard fan.
Stephanie Izzard: please open up a restaurant in Stamford CT, I beg you!
A totally unplanned visit to an off-the-radar restaurant surprised me. It was late Thursday night. We wanted to meet some family for post-theater nightcap. We decided to meet at The Dearborn. Some of were a bit hungry so we started ordering a few small bites. OMG! The food was really really good. Specially the burger and the Lamb Merguez Sandwich – which were to die for! They excelled the test because we reordered these two dishes. Chef Aaron Cuschieri, also a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef, has a very creative spin to otherwise ordinary sounding dishes. The Local Burrata dish was so beautiful, citrusy and fresh. It’s contents disappeared in seconds. The Dearborn is a recent addition to the Chicago food-scene, and the dish that made them well-known is the Midwest Fried Chicken. Check it out when you are in Chicago and then tell me if you love it or LOVE IT!!!
It seemed like the city was packed with high quality eateries! Our hotel was connected to a very inviting place called Meli Cafe. It just seems the most convenient option for quick breakfast before we started our days. The food here blew us away. Delicious and creative food, delightful presentations Heck! even their oatmeal came out looking super fine and tasting super good.
There days. Many memorable meals. Chicago, I think I am in love! 🙂