Thursday, April 4, 2013

graham elliot - chicago, il
217 west huron street
chicago, il 60654

about the restaurant:
- opened in 2008 in the river north area
- first venture for the chef after leaving his post at avenues in the peninsula hotel
- "contemporary cuisine"
- dinner wed-sun with two tasting menus ($125, $165) being the only choices
- two michelin stars, three from the tribune
- graham elliot has two other restaurants in chicago (grahamwich and graham elliot bistro), and has appeared on several tv cooking shows including iron chef, top chef masters, and masterchef
details of our visit: 
having visited most of the notable players in chicago's fine dining lineup over the last few years (some multiple times), i figured it was time to finally give chef graham elliot's epynonamous restaurant a try. the original plan was to visit before the sigur ros show at uic, but that idea was foiled as the concert was on a tuesday when g.e. is closed. it was then that the decision was made to stay late on our last day in the city, dining at g.e. at 5pm before making the drive back to st. louis. pictured below is the full chef's tasting menu.
scallop - lime - cilantro - avocado
venison - date - juniper - rosemary
duck - confit - peas - risotto
butternut - yuzu - chili - shiso
foie - fig - chervil - cherry
halibut - seaweed - asparagus - miso
crab - morel - black garlic - artichoke 
rabbit - carrot - lentil - fava
lamb - turnip - potato - onion
cheese - vanilla - olive oil - orange
strawberry - pistachio - chevre - milk
chocolate - hickory - lingonberry - birch

the most disappointing aspect of this meal was the service. the gentleman handling our table had little personality or enthusiasm, and seemed genuinely disinterested in performing his job. aside from a few groups having cocktails at the bar, only one other table was seated throughout the entire 2.5 hours we were at the restaurant, and they left without eating once they learned dining was by tasting menu only. this means that our server had very little to do, but yet still failed miserably. he was unavailable when i wanted to order wine, and after the first few courses, left dish delivery to his back servers, whose first language was most certainly not english. descriptions were mumbled in virtually inaudible/incomprehensible fashion, and key ingredients were twice forgotten without promise to check with the kitchen and report back. when they weren't delivering plates, the two back servers lurked awkwardly near/behind our table. also worth noting is that the valet was not present when we arrived, forcing us to find parking ourselves.

i am not sure how g.e. was awarded its michelin stars, as what we were served was miles from the other two star meals we have had in chicago as well as on both coasts. this is not to say the food was bad, as that is far from accurate. the problem is, with a menu of this price at a restaurant of this "caliber", one goes into a meal wanting to be wowed, and that never happened for me at graham elliot. the few dishes that i thought stood out were the scallop, venison, foie, and lamb offerings, but at other two star restaurants, these would have been the weaker dishes.

overal thoughts:
with food that didn't live up to expectations and service that fared even worse, graham elliot is not a place i would recommend or consider revisiting.
graham elliot on Urbanspoon


  1. I recently ate at GE and feel exactly the same way. I had eaten at El Ideas and Tru in the weeks beforehand, and Graham Elliot's food came nowhere close to the quality of those meals. I don't understand how Graham Elliot can have two stars while El Ideas has none, and Tru only has one.

  2. glad to hear someone else feels the same way...graham elliot's two star rating is really baffling.