BY TAYLOR WADE
Alinea has received three stars every year that the Michelin Guide in Chicago has been published. Grant Achatz, chef and owner who once lost his sense of taste during a battle with tongue cancer, creates a menu featuring a 18-course dinner that could easily set you and your date back a grand. Not to mention, it is quite difficult to get in the door. Alinea operates like a theater company, selling pre-paid meal tickets instead of reservations. These tickets can sky-rocket in face value on websites such as Craigslist. But hey, if you have the funds and are able to either reserve months in advance or scour tickets online, go for it! It's sure to be an experience.
Grace, a Chicago restaurant barely two years old, has just been awarded three stars from the Michelin Guide in 2014. It is only the second restaurant in the city to claim that distinction, joining Alinea. Curtis Duffy, the chef and an owner of Grace, is from Columbus, Ohio. He worked at Charlie Trotter’s and was chef de cuisine at Alinea when it opened in 2004. Like nearly all of the American three-star restaurants, Grace serves only tasting menus, with a choice of either “flora” (vegetable-based) or “fauna” (with meat, fish and poultry).
Acadia may be described as fine dining that doesn't break the bank. The chef and owner, Ryan McCaskey, cites summers spent in Maine as his inspiration for the restaurant. For example, you will find dishes such as the shrimp, sourced from Deer Isle, Maine and the lobster pie from Stonington, Maine. However, the decor doesn't feature fishing lures or nautical rope but rather embraces an airy, contemporary vibe. McCaskey's dishes are intensely rich in flavor, as one can experience through the lobster pie, in which intensely flavored lobster bisque is hedonistically poured tableside around buttery lobster meat, the plate dotted with the crispy-creamy potato puffs called pommes dauphines. Definitely worth a try!
42 Grams is a high-end BYO eatery with New American tasting menus served at a communal table and a chef's counter. Prior to opening 42 Grams, the chef and owner, Jake Bickelhaupt was running Sous Rising, a dinner series in his apartment, with his wife, Alexa, who handles service and front of house. When the Chester's Chicken underneath their apartment closed, they took over the space and turned it into an 18-seat restaurant. It uses a ticketing system and each ticket costs $203.68, including taxes and service. But the price doesn't include the cost of making a Binny's run if you wish to sip wine tableside. This BYOB joint aims to feel like a "higher end dinner party", hence the homey-feeling—the kitchen takes centerstage in the space, and the room feels, as intended, like an off-shoot of the dinners they held in their apartment. Every single one of the 15 courses, from the “crispy snacks” like salmon skin chicharrons dusted with malt vinegar powder to the coffee and chicory pudding that ends the night, is delicious and exciting. Source: TimeOut Chicago
Sixteen is a French-inspired restaurant serving American dishes in a high-end dining room on the 16th floor of Trump Hotel & Tower. Sixteen has transformed itself under chef Thomas Lents—with creative themed tasting menus like Chicago History, more approachable service and two Michelin stars, the restaurant is solidly in the top tier of fine dining restaurants in Chicago. While the tasting menu is firmly in "splurge" category (dinner for two with wine pairings is around $1,000), the patio offers an even better view of the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, as well as less expensive food. Source: TimeOut Chicago
Oriole is a restaurant hidden down an alley-like street in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, offering an extended tasting menu presented by Executive Chef & Owner Noah Sandoval and Pastry Chef & Partner Genie Kwon. The Michelin-starred and Jean Banchet award-winning team hosts 28 in an intimate and elegant dining room shared with an open kitchen. The cost of the menu is $175 per person. Two pairing options are offered to accompany your meal. Curated by sommelier Aaron McManus, one features mixed beverages of wine, beer, and sake while the second pairs exclusively wine offered at $75 and $125 respectively.
Tru offers Executive Chef Anthony Martin’s Progressive French cuisine, showcasing the most pristine ingredients available in full tasting or abbreviated experience executed with bold creativity and a passion for presentation. Known for an extensive caviar program, the signature offering, Coral Caviar, boasts a selection of up to ten hand-selected caviars. With an elegant ambiance of white draperies and blue banquettes punctuated by a museum-quality contemporary art collection including works by Gerhard Richter, Peter Halley and Andy Warhol, Tru offers inspired fine dining complemented by James Beard Award-winning service and a list of more than 1,500 selections from the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine cellar. Tru is an adult environment with a dress code policy: jackets are required for gentlemen; and elegant-casual, business or evening attire is requested for ladies.