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October 28, 2008

Local Dish:
Casual Fine Dining at Graham Elliot

BY
CAROLINE AHN

Graham Elliot has redefined fine dining by offering four-star cuisine in a casual environment. Formerly the chef at Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel, Chef Graham Elliot Bowles is a three-time James Beard Award nominee and the youngest four star chef in America.

Atmosphere : Graham Elliot's atmosphere is modern, chic and minimalist. With a decor of clean lines, dark oak tables, neutral tones and crisp white linens, the dining room is accented with a hint of exposed brick to give it a cool, masculine feel. The restaurant is upscale and chic, but very approachable with friendly servers dressed in jeans and sneakers and a wide variety of music playing in the background. Tables are well separated, allowing for intimate dinners or a small group gathering.

Eats : The menu at Graham Elliot changes seasonally, and offers selections of hot and cold appetizers, main courses from land and sea and sweets to finish. Diners are welcomed with fresh-popped flavored popcorn rather than a bread basket, with flavors changing daily ranging from brown butter to sour cream and chive to malt vinegar.

Cold appetizers include a Flight of Oysters of mignonette gelee, English cucumber and champagne foam and a Foie Gras Parfait of rice krispies, cranberry compote, petite herbs and yogurt sorbet. Both dishes are fresh, and good starters to the rest of the menu.

Warm appetizers include a Red Wine Risotto with homemade sausage, seared calamari, garlic confit and shaved pecorino. This dish is rich, hearty and full of multiple flavors. The Spicy Buffalo Chicken is served with celeriac slaw, bleu cheese, hot sauce and a Budweiser beef froth. The chicken is served very tender, and takes traditional buffalo wings from comfort food to
gourmet.

From the sea, try the Triple Glazed Scallops with savory oatmeal, butternut squash, swiss chard in a bourbon emulsion. The Skate Wing Almondine is served with creamy polenta, haricot vert, caper chutney in a buerre noisette, cooked perfectly to be soft and flavorful.

Land menu items include a Wagyu Flat Iron steak, served with parsnip tater-tops, chanterelle mushrooms, creamed watercress in a smoked béarnaise. The steak is very well accompanied by the creamed watercress and tater-tots, a very hearty dish that will satisfy all carnivores. The Crispy Pork Belly is served with artisan grits, collard greens and plum marmalade in a root beer glaze. The pork belly is cooked so tenderly, it almost melts in the mouth. The root beer glaze adds a delicious sweet spiciness and works well with the pork's natural juices.

The Fall sweets menu includes a Pumpkin Crème Brulee, Green Apple Fritters, Reconstructed Snickers Bars and a Molten Cheesecake.

Drinks : Graham Elliot offers a list of sparkling wines, white wines and red wines. The sommelier, Michael Muser, is able to make several wine pairing recommendations for specific dishes and tastes. There is also a list of music-themed signature cocktails on the menu including The Cranberries and Smashing Pumpkins.

Service : The service at Graham Elliot is exceptional. The servers are very well versed on the menu, can make excellent wine selections are always willing to make suggestions based on personal preferences.

Dress : Casual or Business

Graham Elliot
217 W. Huron St. (between Franklin St & Wells St)
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 624-9975
www.grahamelliot.com

 
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