652 w. randolph street
chicago, il 60661
duffy, whose resume includes time at charlie trotters, a stage at the french laundry, pastry chef at trio, chef de cusine at alinea, and head chef at avenues at the peninsula hotel, came forward with plans to open his own restaurant in the summer of 2011. the announcement of the name grace came months later, and then the teasers began coming at a high rate of speed. most of the information provided was about the building of the physical space, the decor and service ware, and the service style. details on the food were kept from the public until just weeks before the restaurant opened. when the reservation lines finally opened after the restaurants numerous delays, carrie and i had a very brief conversation via text about when we could make it up to chicago, and then proceeded to book our table for mid january.
osetra caviar - meyer lemon, kumquat jam, chive
this was a solid opener, with the salty brine of the caviar contrasting nicely with the smooth and tangy meyer lemon custard.
nairagi - golden trout roe, pomelo, thai basil
this was definitely the most interesting course of the meal and could certainly be a very polarizing dish for those not used to dining at this level. what we have here is a cylinder of ginger flavored ice containing nairagi (striped marlin), golden trout roe, pomelo (and its rind), and some spices. the base of the bowl was a warm grain of some sort. we were instructed to crack the ice cylinder with the back of our spoon and mix everything together. this was definitely a unique eating experience as each bite was truly different from the last in terms of texture, temperature, and flavor. while i largely enjoyed the dish, i did find a few bites towards the end to be too watery and kind of weird. this dish was reminiscent of duffy's signature king crab dish, but unfortunately fell short for me.
carrot - iranian pistachio, whipped mascarpone, carrot top
so this is the dish from the flora menu we added to our meal, and it honestly may have been the best course of the night. this was orange and purple carrots prepared a couple of different ways plated with a light mascarpone cheese, pistachios, and what i would call a rich pistachio butter. this dish has me wondering if next time around we should do the flora menu...absolutely incredible.
warm cucumber - burnt orange, pasilla, peruvian oxalis
although it is not listed on the menu, this course had some emmanthaler cheese in it that to me really added an extra layer of flavor. this dish would have still been stellar without the cheese, but its piquancy shining through the dishes otherwise mild flavors is what i most remember about this course.
scottish salmon - crispy red cabbage, citrus pudding, marigold
this was a solid course, but probably the least memorable of the evening.
grilled wagyu beef - abalone mushroom, salsify, mashua leaf
following the salmon course was an incredibly rich japanese a5 wagyu beef served with a dashi broth on the side for sipping. the meat was perfectly tender and absoultely bursting with flavor, rivaling the callote de boeuf at per se/the french laundry as the best beef i have ever had. between the numerous items on the plate, the dashi broth on the side, and the wine a bread pairings, there was a lot to keep track of with this course, and i am afraid i stressed myself out over thinking when/how to eat/drink what.
veal cheek - red wine braised endive, green grape, black mint
while i found it a bit strange that the meal's final savory course was another beef preparation, this offering was definitely another success with the cheek being fantastically tender. this course was served with a toothsome red wine bread that was easily the best bread of the meal.
poached quince - elderflower, tamarind juice, bronze fennel
the quince course served as a palate cleanser, and was somewhat reminiscent of applesauce in terms of flavor.
caramelized sudachi - toasted cashew, asian pear, nasturtium
this was probably my favorite of the sweet courses with the caramel base being fantastic.
dark chocolate - raw chesnut, persimmon, lemon mint
the last dessert course was probably the meals best looking course, which really says a lot as all of chef duffy's plates are stunning. like the nairagi at the meal's beginning, this was a study of textures with no two bites being alike.