Grace, Chicago, IL (April 2013)

Tasting every one of the 18 courses on the menu at Grace is not unlike my experience with articles in Econometrica: you know something gnarly is going on, but you aren’t quite able to understand it. In contradistinction to Econometrica, though, everything–even things you don’t understand–was intensely satisfying. I’ll spare readers a long-winded narrative of the three-hour meal and simply say if you have a chance to try Chef Curtis Duffy’s food, do it. 

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Amuse: hibiscus gelée, lemongrass cracker, fava bean-infused gougere and a smoked paprika taffy-encased satsuma

 

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Osetra caviar, meyer lemon, kumquat jam and chive oil

 

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Parsnip, dried pineapple, frozen tarragon pearls and fennel

 

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Ginger ice water cylinder, rice pudding, golden trout roe, pomelo, toasted cashew and Thai basil

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Following my captain’s instructions, I went ahead and shattered the cylinder.

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Coconut milk-sweet pea terrine, fresh peas, lime, radish and blooms

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Golden beet noodle, raw and roasted beets, black garlic, apple, red sorrel, cocoa

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Scottish salmon, crispy and braised red cabbage, citrus pudding and marigold

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Artichoke, Sicilian pistachios, yellow curry and dandelion greens

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Grilled Miyazaki beef, king trumpet mushrooms, salsify and mashua leaf

 

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Dashi to accompany the beef

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Sunchoke, braised mustard seeds, freekeh, charred cippolini onions and lovage

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Cauliflower, black sesame, quinoa and opal basil

 

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Braised lamb neck, kale, parsley root and miner’s lettuce

 

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Russet potato sourdough

 

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Herb butter with black lava salt

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Maitake mushrooms, preserved daikon, coffee and scallion

 

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Cranberries, frozen cranberry spheres, crispy rye, toasted meringue, pine ice and sage

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Poached pear, elderflower, tamarind juice and fennel

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Caramelized sudachi, toasted cashew, asian pear and nasturtium

 

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Rhubarb, toasted brioche, chartreuse, buddha’s hand and lemon balm

 

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Young coconut, lime, basil ice cream, huckleberries and African blue basil

 

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Dark chocolate, raw chestnut, mandarin and lemon mint

 

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White chocolate with kalamasi liquid and lavender chocolate

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3 thoughts on “Grace, Chicago, IL (April 2013)

  1. You were in Chicago and you didn’t say hi?

    I haven’t actually been to Grace yet. From your pictures, it seems that the composition of the dishes was quite complex. Did you find that aspect successful or distracting?

    Also, how do you think Grace stack up against other restaurants in the country in the context of Michelin?

    • I was in town for a conference, so there wasn’t much free time. I spent my time at L2O fleshing out my talk, and after two straight days of political science, I was knackered by the time I got to Grace, which would have made me an awfully dull dining companion.

      For what it’s worth, I really liked the plating. And as for comparing Grace to other first-rate establishments, I’d certainly put the service up there with the EMPs and Meadowoods of the world. But the food has a much higher variance than the aforementioned restaurants; a few dishes such as the parsnip amalgam or the caramelized sudachi rival some of the tastiest things I’ve ever had the privilege of eating, while others–the maitake mushroom and dark chocolate dessert–were forgettable.

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