There was almost no way we weren’t going to try Grace. There is of course the obvious (my wife’s name) and then more sentimental reasons. Like
most some people (who are hopelessly obsessed with food), Grace and I watched expectantly as Curtis Duffy and his partner Michael Muser opened Grace (the restaurant). And as far as restaurant openings go, this one was not lacking in coverage. There was the Sky Full of Bacon/Grubstreet “Finding Grace” series, the ulterior epicure/Eater “Behind the Scenes” series and the appearance on “the Interview Show” with Mark Bazer.
After so much hype, it would really be hard for anything to live up to such high expectations. Both Mike Sula of the Chicago Reader and David Tamarkin of Timeout gave the restaurant high marks, but still had some room for improvement before reaching the lofty goals which they had set for themselves. The Tribune‘s Phil Vettel was a bit more effusive (even recommending the toilet, which is pretty nice). And for the most part I agree with all of them. The food is beautiful and exquisite, but as Tamarkin says tends to the sweet. In the end I did probably prefer the vegetarian “Flora” menu over the meatier “Fauna” menu. But as Sula points out the heavier dishes also counterintuitively appeared on the “Flora” menu.
Either way, the experience feels luxurious and the service was spot on. While heavy on the wallet, it feels worth it’s value and I have much faith that the food will only get better.
Opening Bites (presented on a charred barrel stave):
Satsuma orange, smoked-paprika, sugar (amazing)
Gougère, smoked banana, cilantro
Black lime and saffron
Pickled apple-cucumber roll-up, chlorophyll
**Unfortunately no good pictures of the winter squash course prior to the soup being poured over the top. Tops can be seen on the anti-griddle.
Chocolate sphere filled with liquefied caramel popcorn
Dark chocolate bonbon with creamy kaffir lime
652 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60661