Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Search for Perfection at Chicago's Grace

Reservation required?  YES- Make sure you book this 3-star well in advance (give yourself at least a month or two) to snag a seat at in this small, intimate space.

Atmosphere: Grace is on the more formal end of the Michelin star establishments we have dined at, with most men in jackets (with or without tie) and many women in long gowns.  The colour scheme is neutral (beige, white, black) and furnishings are very simple with 2-seater booths on one side and generously-spaced circular tables filling the rest of the small room.  The semi-open kitchen is right at the back, and if you are lucky you might be offered a tour at the conclusion of your meal.

Service: Despite the very formal decor, the service is very approachable.  Both our server and sommelier were very open to chatting about the food, entertaining our questions and making our evening very enjoyable.  Having said that, the service was executed like clock work, with our dishes being placed on the table in perfect synchrony, our water and wine glasses]s being filled at all times, and very precise spacing between dishes.

Food: There are two choices at Grace, the "Flora" (vegetable) and "Fauna" (meat/seafood) tasting menus.  There are also wine pairings available, which I would highly recommend.  The pairings are not excessive in quantity (about 2.5-3 glasses total) with a nice variety of styles and vintages.  The tasting menus offer about 10-12 courses, starting with a few bites, then some lighter dishes, followed by a couple more substantial savoury dishes, then ending with 3 sweet dishes.  We left feeling full but not overstuffed.   Grace does not do "showy" food (no liquid nitrogen to be found here) but the dishes are anything but boring.  Chef Duffy is a master with using complex flavours and textures such that every single bite offers a new surprise.  There are flavours from multiple different backgrounds (thai, italian, french) and his use of herbs and spices is ingenious.  I was very impressed with the creativity behind the food and the spectacular presentation.

Pre-dinner "bites" plated on honeycomb

Various breads with salted butter and herb butter:


Heart of palm- ginger, mint, coriander

Salsify- jasmine, trout roe, shiso

Asparagus- osetra caviar, potato, spring onion

English pea, ricotta, olive oil, lavender

Carrot- green strawberry, hazelnut, amaranth

Australian Black Truffle- sweet corn, pecorino, parsley

Blood Orange- vanilla, tangerine lace (both menus)

Strawberry- sunflower, elderlflower, verbana

Chocolate- grapefruit, chartreuse, celery heart


Guinea Hen- ramp, radish, chive blossom

Alaskan King Crab- sudachi, cucumber, lemon mint 

Bay Scallops- white poppy, romaine, nasturtium

Pork- gnudi, porcini, spinach

Squab- beet, fig, endive

Miyazaki Beef- grains, hon shimeji, kaffir lime

Huckleberry- honey, fenugreek, basil

Cashew- cocao, creme fraiche, hoja santa

Melon "bursts"

Chocolate caramels (a little gift for our anniversary)

Overall Verdict?
Grace is a truly special place.  It combines traditional formality with the congenial, approachable service that diners have come to appreciate.  The experience is rounded out with creative and thought-provoking food inspired by flavours from around the world.  It is clear that Chef Duffy sets very high standards for his work and expects the same from those who work with him.  It was an honour to dine at an establishment that strives for such perfection for its guests.

Grace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

1 comment:

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