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  • L.20 Restaurant

    Post #1 - February 6th, 2008, 9:45 pm
    Post #1 - February 6th, 2008, 9:45 pm Post #1 - February 6th, 2008, 9:45 pm
    I couldn't find any post on this but L.20 is the new Laurent Gras and Lettuce Entertain You restaurant opening in the old Ambria space. What are your thoughts on it? I'm excited. I've been following the blog daily and also noticed a post at Ideas In Food referencing L20 as I've been following Ideas In Food for a few years.

    L20 Restaurant
    L20 Blog


    L20 Restaurant
    2300 N. Lincoln Park West
    Chicago, IL 60614
    Last edited by CTBoss on February 6th, 2008, 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - February 6th, 2008, 9:48 pm
    Post #2 - February 6th, 2008, 9:48 pm Post #2 - February 6th, 2008, 9:48 pm
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I think the concept is a great idea. The city has been lacking a high-end seafood restaurant since Chef GEB took over at Avenues.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #3 - February 6th, 2008, 10:06 pm
    Post #3 - February 6th, 2008, 10:06 pm Post #3 - February 6th, 2008, 10:06 pm
    With Laurent Gras at the helm, the food will likely be terrific. But, man, what an ANNOYING website with those moving target links.
  • Post #4 - February 6th, 2008, 10:23 pm
    Post #4 - February 6th, 2008, 10:23 pm Post #4 - February 6th, 2008, 10:23 pm
    Yea, but I found myself listening to the music for about an hour the other day without even noticing it. Which is weird because I usually hate websites that play music.
  • Post #5 - February 6th, 2008, 11:14 pm
    Post #5 - February 6th, 2008, 11:14 pm Post #5 - February 6th, 2008, 11:14 pm
    jesteinf wrote:The city has been lacking a high-end seafood restaurant since Chef GEB took over at Avenues.

    Was Avenues previously a high-end seafood restaurant? And by high-end, what do you mean - more creative, more molecular gastronomy, that kind of thing?

    Sorry for the questions; I am not familiar with the Avenues history pre-Bowles. From your statement, I can only assume you are referring to a seafood restaurant that is in some way a step above places like Spring and Oceanique, and I'm curious as to what it was like.
  • Post #6 - February 6th, 2008, 11:19 pm
    Post #6 - February 6th, 2008, 11:19 pm Post #6 - February 6th, 2008, 11:19 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:
    jesteinf wrote:The city has been lacking a high-end seafood restaurant since Chef GEB took over at Avenues.

    Was Avenues previously a high-end seafood restaurant? And by high-end, what do you mean - more creative, more molecular gastronomy, that kind of thing?

    Sorry for the questions; I am not familiar with the Avenues history pre-Bowles. From your statement, I can only assume you are referring to a seafood restaurant that is in some way a step above places like Spring and Oceanique, and I'm curious as to what it was like.


    It was high-end (at the level of Tru, Trotter's, etc), with a focus on seafood. I believe it had either a 3 1/2 or 4 star rating from the Trib.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #7 - February 7th, 2008, 11:42 pm
    Post #7 - February 7th, 2008, 11:42 pm Post #7 - February 7th, 2008, 11:42 pm
    I can attest to this. I had the finest seafood meal I ever ate at Avenues pre-Bowles. Not the finest seafood (with the exception of the $23 same-day scallop), because I've had better day-boat seafood in Florida and other places on the Gulf. But certainly the finest fine-dining experience, seafood-focused menu, in which I have ever partaken. I think the service was much better in the older incarnation, by the way.
    JiLS
  • Post #8 - February 8th, 2008, 12:04 am
    Post #8 - February 8th, 2008, 12:04 am Post #8 - February 8th, 2008, 12:04 am
    Pre-Bowles Avenues had very, very little traffic.

    And from what I recall, it never achieved 4 Stars. As a matter of fact, I do not believe Phil Vettel ever even reviewed it - but I could be wrong.
  • Post #9 - February 8th, 2008, 12:16 am
    Post #9 - February 8th, 2008, 12:16 am Post #9 - February 8th, 2008, 12:16 am
    It had been a 3.5*, and Vettel upgraded it to 4*. I can't remember whether he wrote the original 3.5 or not, either.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #10 - February 8th, 2008, 12:29 am
    Post #10 - February 8th, 2008, 12:29 am Post #10 - February 8th, 2008, 12:29 am
    are you talking pre - Bowles? I really do not think that pre-Bowles Avenues got 4 stars. I really need to find out now...
  • Post #11 - February 8th, 2008, 12:30 am
    Post #11 - February 8th, 2008, 12:30 am Post #11 - February 8th, 2008, 12:30 am
    Snark wrote:I do not believe Phil Vettel ever even reviewed it - but I could be wrong.

    I just searched one of those library newspaper archive websites and found a review of Avenues by Phil Vettel dated August 24, 2001, entitled, "The royal road to fine seafood - Avenues offers quality, comfort . . . but at a price". It mentions most entrees $39 and higher, appetizers beginning at $18, and a five-course tasting menu for $89. Such prices don't sound particularly shocking today, but it's really only in the past 3-4 years that we've seen the $250-300+ (per person, inclusive) dinner become common at the top places in Chicago. They mention Avenues being open for lunch as well as dinner. The executive chef at the time was Gerhard Doll and the pastry chef was Ralph Gottschalk; a quick web search shows that, as of last fall, Doll was executive chef at the newly opened Peninsula Tokyo, and as of 2006, Gottschalk was in South Africa.

    The article is no longer available on the Tribune website. I could post a copy here but I assume that's a no-no due to copyright issues.
  • Post #12 - February 8th, 2008, 12:55 am
    Post #12 - February 8th, 2008, 12:55 am Post #12 - February 8th, 2008, 12:55 am
    I meant to say he upgraded it to 4* after Bowles took over.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #13 - February 8th, 2008, 2:00 pm
    Post #13 - February 8th, 2008, 2:00 pm Post #13 - February 8th, 2008, 2:00 pm
    I think Spring and Oceanique are fine restaurants. I also think that nobody would seriously consider them at the level of Le Bernardin, which is my understanding what L2O is aiming for.

    I'm excited. Bartender at Mon Ami said, however, that he doubted they'd be ready for opening much before late March.
  • Post #14 - February 8th, 2008, 4:20 pm
    Post #14 - February 8th, 2008, 4:20 pm Post #14 - February 8th, 2008, 4:20 pm
    Sam Harmon wrote:I think Spring and Oceanique are fine restaurants. I also think that nobody would seriously consider them at the level of Le Bernardin, which is my understanding what L2O is aiming for.

    Yes, I understand. (Or, to put that in Chicago terms, at the level of Alinea, Avenues, Everest, Charlie Trotter's, or Tru.)

    I, too, am looking forward to seeing what L2O is like. It will be interesting to see how they differentiate themselves from this esteemed group of restaurants, all of which have extensive seafood offerings while not consciously trying to emphasize them. Also, it's been several years now since one of these "top table / splurge" type places opened in Chicago - I would arguably include NoMI, Moto, and Spiaggia in this exclusive list, and maybe Carlos - which makes such an attempt all the more interesting. Will this be a place that is basically similar to these others, except perhaps for more seafood items on the menu? Will it have a molecular gastronomy bent to it like Moto (and, to a lesser extent, Alinea)? Questions that will be answered in time.
  • Post #15 - February 8th, 2008, 4:31 pm
    Post #15 - February 8th, 2008, 4:31 pm Post #15 - February 8th, 2008, 4:31 pm
    The blog gives at least some idea of what the food will be like. If they're going for a Chicago version of Le Bernadin, nothing would make me happier. My sense is that this might be a bit more contemporary (not necessarily "molecular"), but with just as serious of a focus on seafood.

    If what's pictured in this blog post (http://l2o.typepad.com/l2o_blog/2008/02/one-on-one.html) is indicative of what they'll be serving, then I think this will be my kind of place.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #16 - February 8th, 2008, 5:13 pm
    Post #16 - February 8th, 2008, 5:13 pm Post #16 - February 8th, 2008, 5:13 pm
    jesteinf wrote:If they're going for a Chicago version of Le Bernadin, nothing would make me happier. My sense is that this might be a bit more contemporary (not necessarily "molecular"), but with just as serious of a focus on seafood.

    I feel exactly the same way, about Le Bernardin (where I ate last year) as well as L2O. That's a good description of Le Bernardin's focus, too; if I had to compare it with a Chicago restaurant, it would probably be Everest, or maybe NoMI. Not the leading edge of innovation, but food that is thoughtful and spectacularly delicious, with flawless execution and exquisite service.
  • Post #17 - April 16th, 2008, 1:17 pm
    Post #17 - April 16th, 2008, 1:17 pm Post #17 - April 16th, 2008, 1:17 pm
    According to this post on Chef Gras' blog, L.20 has a planned opening of May 14th and is now taking reservations through the summer:

    http://l2o.typepad.com/l2o_blog/2008/04 ... ns-an.html
  • Post #18 - May 16th, 2008, 7:48 am
    Post #18 - May 16th, 2008, 7:48 am Post #18 - May 16th, 2008, 7:48 am
    Longtime gawker, 1st time poster... Just wondering who went to opening night at L2O and what was it like???
  • Post #19 - May 16th, 2008, 8:53 am
    Post #19 - May 16th, 2008, 8:53 am Post #19 - May 16th, 2008, 8:53 am
    MJN had a note hungrymag (and a PDF of the menu)

    http://www.hungrymag.com/2008/05/15/first-sip-l20/

    Sounds damn good, think I'm going to try it myself in a couple weeks.
  • Post #20 - May 16th, 2008, 9:20 am
    Post #20 - May 16th, 2008, 9:20 am Post #20 - May 16th, 2008, 9:20 am
    I was going to check out the Hungrymag piece, but I made the mistake of clicking the link to the restaurant website first, and I'm too dizzy to do anything else now. Seems that high-end restaurants these days are trying to outdo each other for worst website design in history.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #21 - May 16th, 2008, 9:57 am
    Post #21 - May 16th, 2008, 9:57 am Post #21 - May 16th, 2008, 9:57 am
    I ate there on opening night and it was nothing short of spectacular. Based on my experience, I predict that L20 will very quickly take its place with Chicago's finest restaurants.

    I hope to post a longer take, along with some photos, over the weekend.

    Fwiw Kenny, I love the web site and the chef's blog, too.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #22 - May 16th, 2008, 10:36 am
    Post #22 - May 16th, 2008, 10:36 am Post #22 - May 16th, 2008, 10:36 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:I ate there on opening night and it was nothing short of spectacular. Based on my experience, I predict that L20 will very quickly take its place with Chicago's finest restaurants.

    I hope to post a longer take, along with some photos, over the weekend.

    Fwiw Kenny, I love the web site and the chef's blog, too.

    =R=

    Excellent! I have reservations in mid-June and I cannot wait.
  • Post #23 - May 16th, 2008, 11:03 am
    Post #23 - May 16th, 2008, 11:03 am Post #23 - May 16th, 2008, 11:03 am
    BR wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:I ate there on opening night and it was nothing short of spectacular. Based on my experience, I predict that L20 will very quickly take its place with Chicago's finest restaurants.

    I hope to post a longer take, along with some photos, over the weekend.

    Fwiw Kenny, I love the web site and the chef's blog, too.

    =R=

    Excellent! I have reservations in mid-June and I cannot wait.

    I wish I could take the day off work just to go home and get my post together. Not only were the dishes delicious (we did the 12-course, plus) but the preparations were playful, inventive and visually stunning. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), ingredients were of superior quality and freshness. I've never before experienced this level of cuisine applied to fish and seafood. It was, I have to say, levels beyond anything I've ever experienced at Spring, which is the only place in Chicago that I can even begin to compare it to. And I agree completely with what Mike Nagrant posted at his site regarding bread service . . . it was the best I can remember having at any Chicago restaurant. There were 6 fantastic varieties served, including one which contained lardon and another that was essentially mini anchovie croissants. The mini baguettes were fantastic, too. Butter, as is widely known from the chef's blog, is made in house and utterly (forgive the pun) delicious.

    Service, including course-specific wine pairings, was extremely polished, especially given that it was opening night. Coffee, produced with Clover machines, is outstanding.

    The room, which was pretty damned gorgeous as Ambria, is completely new, and it's very well-conceived and breathtaking. Form follows function in service of the restaurant's overall goals and mission. It's contemporary, elegant and comfortable, with very subtle, elevated nods to the aquatic nature of the restaurant. Every detail, it seems, has been carefully considered.

    More soon,

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #24 - May 16th, 2008, 11:07 am
    Post #24 - May 16th, 2008, 11:07 am Post #24 - May 16th, 2008, 11:07 am
    This is very exciting. I can't wait to go. The pictures on the blog have been absolutely stunning, and it's great to hear that everything tastes as good as it looks.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #25 - May 16th, 2008, 11:22 am
    Post #25 - May 16th, 2008, 11:22 am Post #25 - May 16th, 2008, 11:22 am
    I had the good fortune of visiting L2O last night and came away very impressed.

    The food was excellent, with some courses more memorable than others. We went with the four course prixe fixe with two additional sashimi courses to start.

    The sashimi was fluke, kinemedai, and Kanpachi, as well as another platter w/ Ishidai which was explained as parrot fish. Having moved from NYC over a year ago, good sushi is the #1 thing I miss. All of these white fishes were pristine quality, but part of me wished he had mixed in a heavier fish such as a mackerel, toro, salmon, etc... even the Ishidai which contained pieces from the back and the belly was rather bland. All the sashimi was served with dots of yuzu and soy salt.

    Amuses included uni/grapefruit and a mussel in a coconut curry broth. Both excellent. However I love uni and thought it was completely overwhelmed by the grapefruit. My date however, doesn't love uni the same way I do so she was happy w/ the cloaking.

    First courses were more sashimi, the Shimaaji was better than the Kimedai. Both were very good but not extremely inventive. Second courses were the highlight. I had the "gold egg." This was a piece of yellowtail slightly grilled, a great piece of pork belly, and an egg yolk almost like a squirt of icing in the shape of a caterpillar. This looked like an Alinea dish and tasted like it too! On the side was a little cup of green apple applesauce with a pork bullion poured over it table side. (they did this a few times.) This was my fave. Who cares about Motts anymore when you have porky green applesauce? The octopus was the other course and was very well received and perfectly cooked.

    For my entree I subbed the dover sole. It featured three nice size chunks cooked medium rare/rare. Thought it was good/very good but a bit on the boring side (what was I to expect.) The lobster was visually stunning and also on the rare side (which I like but others may not) and was paired with the ubiquitous vanilla that I simply don't care for.

    A dessert amuse was a green tea granita which was amazing. Dessert was grand and includeda very good cheese plate and a fabulous praline souffle.

    Laurent Gras Is not messing around at all. The room was about 20% full by design as they ramp up. The service thus was very good but a tad off at times as expected. They have all the premium touches: From the second you pull up in the car and they check your name, to when you walk in and have already been notified of your arrival, it is first rate. Bread service was over the top and included mini bacon rolls and mini anchovy croissants. And yes, their is an aquarium in one of the Wcs...

    Wine list was extensive and the sommelier was great- knowledgeable yet still down to earth. Helped us select an incredible Pinot Gris (Rolly 04) and then poured us a few glasses from what was open for the pairings. Martini to start was great but the $20 price tag felt like gouging.

    L20 is a very expensive experience, certainly pushing the envelope, but it is on par with the other local and national gems. While the menu feels a lot like Le Bernardin in NYC (great raw dishes and more variability and less of excitement in the entrees) the vibe is modern meets eighties (I could do without the serene music.)

    While I will not be returning soon, I think it is a good choice for a special occasion or a fish lover's treat. In NYT ratings I think it could garner consideration for a 4th star, but I would have to return 2 or 3 more times to confirm that.

    Chico
  • Post #26 - May 16th, 2008, 11:23 am
    Post #26 - May 16th, 2008, 11:23 am Post #26 - May 16th, 2008, 11:23 am
    made a reservation for the 31st

    one note - $50 per person cancellation fee (In the 24-hour window, nothing if before).
  • Post #27 - May 16th, 2008, 11:29 am
    Post #27 - May 16th, 2008, 11:29 am Post #27 - May 16th, 2008, 11:29 am
    And I just made one for the 29th.

    Their reservation system is linked into the rest of the LEYE system. They already had all of my contact information and also knew that my wife doesn't eat chocolate. Very slick.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #28 - May 16th, 2008, 7:51 pm
    Post #28 - May 16th, 2008, 7:51 pm Post #28 - May 16th, 2008, 7:51 pm
    How is this possible :? I was under the impression that this was a LEYE project :P
    Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.
    Woody Allen
  • Post #29 - May 16th, 2008, 9:47 pm
    Post #29 - May 16th, 2008, 9:47 pm Post #29 - May 16th, 2008, 9:47 pm
    misterchico wrote:L20 is a very expensive experience, certainly pushing the envelope, but it is on par with the other local and national gems.

    How expensive, if I might ask? "Everest expensive" (say $175-250/pp including moderate alcohol and tax/tip)? "Avenues expensive" ($200-300/pp)? "Alinea expensive" ($250-350/pp)?

    EDIT: Never mind. I found my answer elsewhere; it sounds like there is flexibility in the menu:

    There are going to be three type of menus that planned once everything is up and running; lounge menu, main dining room menu, and the tatami room menu. The main dining room menu, will be presented in their private rooms. The menu offerings for the main dining room are:
    12-course tasting ($165)
    4-course prix fixe ($110)
    à la carte, snack size (range $15-$110).
    à la carte, super sized (range $45- $140)
  • Post #30 - May 18th, 2008, 1:23 pm
    Post #30 - May 18th, 2008, 1:23 pm Post #30 - May 18th, 2008, 1:23 pm
    Below are some pics from our opening night meal at L.20. I wasn't exactly sure how to organize them, so I decided to begin with the design elements, which one does experience first, and finish up with the food . . .

    Image
    The restaurant is laid out symmetrically, with each table being unique or distinctively-located in some way. Frame left you can see an alcove and 2-top which are made completely from onyx. Behind the frosted glass, in the back of this shot, is the private dining room which, iirc, seats 8. It'll be about 2 months before private dining is available.


    Image
    Another perspective, looking across the back of the large dining room, which is intended to call to mind classic, fine-dining rooms which are traditionally associated with hotel dining. In the distance, in the back of the shot are 2 modular tatami rooms, which can be completely closed off from the main dining room and serviced entirely via a separate doorway directly from the kitchen. Because of their modular nature, these rooms can actually be configured to different sizes and seating capacities, depending on what is required.


    Image
    A view of the banquette that is situated at the back, center of the dining room. This bench seating faces the door and as someone in our party noted, it's the perfect vantage point for people watching.


    Image
    In the center of the dining room is the oblong 6-top at which we dined. Visible throughout the room are many subtle nods to the 'under the pier,' nautical theme of L.20. I really love the double cables that ran from floor to ceiling. They evoked an underwater feeling and defined the space around our table without closing it off.


    Because the design of the restaurant is so intertwined with its mission and theme (and because the restaurant is so new), I want to show some of the specific design details here . . .

    Image
    An overview of our table. At first glance, a couple of notable elements include the onyx slabs, the round, frosted glass containers (the purpose of which would be revealed shortly after we were seated) and the blue-tinted water glasses, which again evoke the nautical theme in a room where there are very few other color accents.


    Image
    These small onyx slabs, each cut from the larger slabs that comprised the alcove, are placed in front of each diner and moved about depending on which utensils are provided with a given course.


    Image
    Here, the slab is readied with a mother of pearl spoon in preparation for our caviar course. Frame right, you get a closer look at the blue-tinted water glass.


    Image
    For some courses, the fork was placed, tines down, on these onyx chits. I'm told that one reason they were selected (along with the slabs) is because of their general uniformity and their individual uniqueness.


    Image
    Chopsticks were provided with a few courses, as well.


    Image
    Elements of L.20's coffee service which, I'm told, are produced in Germany.


    Image
    The frosted glass cylinder opens to reveal house-made butter, which is showcased beautifully.


    Image
    As I mentioned in my post upthread, bread service was phenomenal. Here, pictured left to right are the miniature baguette, bread stuffed with lardon and anchovy bread, which was actually a masterfully-produced croissant.


    Image
    In all, 6 breads were served. Here, pan au lait, wheat baguette and one other wheat bread, the name of which I regretfully, cannot recall, are pictured.


    Image
    We opted for course-by-course wine pairings but I really didn't take very good notes on them. Pictured above is a tremendous, single-vineyard Gonet Medeville Champagne, which was served in an elegant coupe that showcased the nose and again, evoked a classic fine-dining feel.


    The 12-course tasting menu, which was comprised exclusively of fish and seafood preparations, was immensely impressive on many levels. We also added 3 courses (caviar, pork belly, cheese course) and the kitchen sent out a few amuses, pre-desserts and mignardise, too. In all, I'm told that we were served 23 courses. Of course, I myself lost count. What follows are pictures of the courses with some fairly rough notes and descriptions (with profuse thanks to yellow truffle for inviting me to his table and for passing his notes on to me) . . .

    Image
    Amuse 1 - Oyster


    Image
    Amuse 2 - Fluke


    Image
    Amuse 3 - Crab Ceviche


    Image
    Ossetra Caviar, Toro, Avocado with lobster gelee and accoutrements.


    Image
    Interior view of the caviar course. You can see some edible flowers in the background, under the ribbon of lobster gelee.


    Image
    Hokkaido Scallop with yuzu and shiso leaf.


    Image
    Shimaaji with soy salt, daikon, breakfast radish, lime and olive oil. I loved these meaty bites. There was a subtle heat here which came in at the end. Very nice.


    Image
    Tuna and Hamachi with soy, olive oil and chive. Aside from the obvious artistry here, the glorious fish was the star. Like so many of the dishes we enjoyed, chef used a light hand on this one. His stamp is clear but it's applied in a way that highlights the ingredients without obscuring them.


    Image
    Baby Octopus, slow-cooked with coconut emulsion and soy-infused salt. This may have been my favorite dish of the meal. The octopus had an extremely satisfying texture. It was dense without being chewy. I was surprised by how well the coconut went with the octopus. It was an inspired combination.


    Image
    Morels with asparagus, parsley, egg yolk and parmesan. A very successful riff on a classic Spring combination. The morels were succulent, the asparagus perfectly tender and the additional elements unified them deftly.


    Image
    Codfish with fingerling potato, green olive, lemon, Ossetra caviar and white grits. This liquid-form play on brandade was fantastic. The caviar was a nice accent, too.


    Image
    Lobster with lobster dumpling, chestnut and lobster bisque. This was another great combination of flavors. Unfortunately, by no fault of the kitchen, the lobster itself was a bit chewy but still very delicious.


    Image
    Lobster bisque is poured over the lobster and the dumpling.


    Image
    The entire dish is then finished with a emulsified, creamy topping.


    Image
    Halibut with trumpet royale-tomato water gelee, tomato heart, golden spinach, Chablis-tomato bouillon and (not pictured) potato emulsion. I was a bit stunned when, this late in the meal, a portion this large came out. It was one of those moments when I was able to happily rely on my training. This fish was immaculately tender and the tomato accents highlighted it's clean flavor wonderfully. The tomato emulsion was served separately, as a miniature side dish and it was fantastic, too.


    Image
    Halibut after being sauced at the table.


    Image
    Black Bass topped with brioche, with mussels, manjari-pasilla chili gelée and duck bouillon. I loved this preparation because the buttery, razor-thin sheet of brioche added so much to the bass, both texturally and flavor-wise. Again, this was a seriously large portion but it was so delicious it was impossible to stop eating it.


    Image
    Shabu Shabu Medai with daikon and Matsutake, kombu bouillon, ponzu-dashi dipping sauce (not pictured). I didn't do a great job of documenting this service-intensive dish. Shabu shabu is always fun (a bit like Japanese fondue) and again, the flavors were pure, unobstructed and distinctive.


    Image
    Kurabota Pork Belly with caramelized Yukon gold potato, potato emulsion and black truffle pork jus. Out of curiosity, we added this course and even though I was really full by the time it was served, I'm glad we did. As many pork belly preparations as I've had and made, this one was distinctive and new to me. The belly is cured for about 24 hours, then braised and then, somehow, handled in a way which makes the top layer of fat intensely crispy -- almost like cracklings. The potato and truffle accents worked perfectly here. Delectable proof that chef Gras is indeed amphibious.


    Image
    Cheese course . . . don't remember them all but the one of the left was creamy and mild, the middle cheese was nutty and pungent and on the right is the intense Stilton.


    Image
    Carrot Meringue . . . a wonderful bite which bridged us further from savory to sweet. The meringue was tasty.


    Image
    Under the meringue was an intensely-flavored carrot and orange liquid, topped with pop-rock-type granules. A really delicious and effective palate cleanser.


    Image
    Green Tea Shaved Ice . . . aromatic, cool and soothing.


    Image
    Mango Sorbet with 'Exotic Fruit' consomme, lemongrass meringue, pineapple, mango and papaya seeds. This dish was a tropical paradise on a plate. It was very complex, with many fruit elements in a multitude of forms.


    Image
    The herbs accentuated and amplified the tropicality of the fruit elements. The papaya seeds, used as a garnish, provided bright accents and crunch.


    Image
    Miniature Harpoon (as described by one of the diners in our party) . . . a service piece used for only one dish of our meal . . .


    Image
    Passionfruit Marshmallow . . . I believe this delicious, pillow-soft, made in-house marshmallow was covered in some sort of passionfruit powder.


    Image
    Harpoon meets Passionfruit Marshmallow . . . a delicious one-biter on the way to dessert . . .


    Image
    Soufflé, Praline, Praline. It was quite a sight seeing 6 perfect souffles standing tall on their way to the table. Here, the souffle is actually flavored with almond and the sauce is hazelnut. This was another huge portion and I'll admit that even though it was perfect, I couldn't finish it.


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    Pistachio Macaron. Simply put, the best French macaron I've ever eaten. Ever.


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    Coffee Ganache . . . this intense bite, along with coffee from the Clover machine, was a great way to end the meal. This was actually served from a cart, tableside. The beam from which it was cut was a perfect rectangular bar.

    As I posted upthread, I think L.20 will immediately take its place with Chicago's other finest restaurants. I read the mildly snarky comment about it being a LEYE property but this restaurant is (already) operating at such high level, such comments are completely irrelelvant. Service was friendly, polished and extremely knowledgeable. As was posted above, dinner was not inexpensive but very much in line with other top-tier restaurants in town. Before tip, our meal came out to about $380 per person. Of course, we added several courses (including 2 orders of the Ossetra appetizer), selected full wine pairings, etc. Still, for the experience we had, I'd call it a value.

    I'm thrilled to have L.20 in Chicago and we're extraordinarily lucky to have it here. Not only do we now have a world-class fish and seafood restaurant but regardless of the menu, we'd be fortunate to have such easy access to any restaurant with this level of quality. They're so rare. The amount of vision, thought and care that have been invested in L.20 is completely impressive. On top of that, this is delicious, distinctive, artistic food that is an experience unto itself, and one that should not be missed.

    =R=

    L.20
    Belden Stratford Hotel
    2300 Lincoln Park West
    Chicago, IL 60614
    773 868-0002
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French

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