Categories: High end, Technique driven, Creative, Modernist
This is one of the best meals of the year so far. Grace was extremely impressive. The food was beautiful and unique. There were classic European flavors like prosciutto and truffle served only a few dishes after tuna carpaccio with caviar, coconut, cashews and fennel, and then a few dishes later the beef had Southeast Asian influences from lemongrass and finger lime. While some of these Southeast Asian flavors can be quite assertive (which is why I love them!), Chef Duffy manages to make them a bit more subtle so that they can fit in with the flow of the tasting menu. The most beautiful dish of the night was the two layered cucumber and king crab dish that was sweet and savory in perfect balance. The lightly sweet sugar crust on top played off the sweet king crab and cucumber below. The raw tuna dish came in a close second for the most beautiful dish of the night. The flavors here are brilliant and unexpected with the caviar and fennel pairing well with the Caribbean flavors of coconut, lime and cashew. The raw squash dish was tossed with a warm som tum dressing and crispy, yet not overpowering, garlic might have been my favorite of the night. This squash dish was from the flora menu, proving that the vegetable menu might be even better than the fauna menu.
The service was very good and the wine pairings worked well. One particular wine, Bukettraube from Cederberg in South Africa, was especially nice, and I had never heard of it before. The table next to me had the same surprised reaction. Bukettraube is a German varietal that is a cross of Silvaner and Schiava Grossa. It reminded me of other German whites in that it was very aromatic and complex. I will look for it again.
Grace has some of the most beautiful dishes I have seen this year. The restaurant opened in just 2012 and has already earned three Michelin stars. After eating there, I am not at all surprised. I am a huge Grant Achatz fan and would suggest Alinea, Next and especially the Aviary to anyone living in or visiting Chicago. However, right now, if you have to choose one three star restaurant, I would choose Grace over Alinea. If you don't have to choose, even better!