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#1
Posted December 11th 2012, 2:25pm
Curtis Duffy (of the now shuttered Michelin Two Star venue Avenues) finally is opening his much anticipated Grace restaurant tonight in the West Loop! The menus are now up on the website (two nine-course tasting menus, one being vegetarian focused) and look really nice. I believe the price is $185 per/person. I know someone who attended a friends & family night and spoke very highly of the experience. I am heading there in mid-January myself. Grace is likely to rapidly become on of Chicago's most acclaimed restaurants.

Grace
652 W. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60661
312-234-9494 (Reservations accepted via telephone only so far as I know)
http://www.grace-restaurant.com/

More information:
http://chicago.grubstreet.com/2012/12/f ... inner.html
http://chicago.grubstreet.com/2012/12/w ... menus.html
http://blog.zagat.com/2012/12/five-thin ... about.html
http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2012/ ... onight.php
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#2
Posted December 11th 2012, 5:01pm
I read that it was $165/person...can't recall where right now. Regardless - very interested to see what people think about Grace.
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#3
Posted December 11th 2012, 6:17pm
maxbrown wrote:I read that it was $165/person...can't recall where right now. Regardless - very interested to see what people think about Grace.


I had heard the $165 price initially as well - one of the Grub Street articles today mentioned $185; hopefully the $165 is correct.
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#4
Posted December 11th 2012, 9:00pm
Gonzo70 wrote:Grace is likely to rapidly become on of Chicago's most acclaimed restaurants.


That's the interesting question, seeing as how he did not so rapidly ascend at Avenues; it took him a good year then to find his voice. Me, I'm going to wait until late spring: all y'all rushed out to Elizabeth when it was clear that she needed time and space to transition into a new working model, not to mention doing three menus; Duffy is much more seasoned than she is in terms of operating a professional kitchen, but he's surely going to be a lot better with a few months of running the show under his belt.
Last edited by chezbrad on December 12th 2012, 6:54pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#5
Posted December 11th 2012, 11:29pm
Going in mid-January and looking forward to it, as I appreciated Chef Duffy's work at Trio (with chef Achatz), Alinea and Avenues. I understand the thrill of going earlier but it's not something that appeals to me. However, a chef of this caliber should have most all of it nailed down one month in, IMO.

=R=
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"That's right - I'll combine an entree and a side into a Superdish. I don't give a f*ck!" --Beverly Goldberg

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

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#6
Posted January 19th 2013, 11:23pm
My wife and I had a mind blowing experience at Grace tonight; one of the three best meals I have ever had (right up there with Alinea and EMP). For anybody waiting for them to be seasoned, there is no need to wait, they are already a well oil machined. To sum up the experience in three words would be attention to detail. Grace has truly been designed to place the customer first and provide an elegant, special dining experience yet in an incredibly relaxed and comfortable venue. The staff is first rate and extremely accommodating; highly polished and attentive, yet down to Earth, personable and engaging.

There are two tasting menus (flora and fauna) with the former being vegetable focused and the latter including various meats and seafood; both run $185. They are very flexible with letting you mix and match from the two menus. Wine pairings run $110 (and you can share pairings, each receive about a 1.25-1.50 ounce pour in your own glass for the $110 price; there is also a massive wine list). The food is absolutely beautiful, creative and tastes amazing too (and the pairings are excellent as well). The space is elegant, gorgeous and creative; one large main dining room with a private room for parties of seven to ten; the kitchen is semi-open to the dining room. I have no doubt Grace will be receiving at least two Michelin stars this fall and they very, very possibly will be awarded three; this is already one of Chicago's two best restaurants.

Amuse Bouche; four bites served atop a segment of a whiskey barrel; the candied citrus was my favorite bite:
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Osetra Caviar in a Meyer Lemon Gel; reminded me of a sweeter version of Per Se's Oysters & Pearls:
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Nairagi; a type of marlin served inside a ginger crystal, you break everything open and mix together - my 3rd favorite course of the night:
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Carrot - various types of carrots in various textures with different sauces; best vegetarian course I have ever consumed and my favorite course of the night. If you order from the fauna menu, I highly recommend asking for the carrot course in lieu of one of the fauna courses:
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Warm Cucumber: While there were no duds, this was one of my least favorite of the courses:
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Scottish Salmon:
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In lieu of a bread basket, there are bread pairings for four courses. I had never experienced bread pairings before and this was a lot of fun and I loved the concept! Quality wise the breads were quite good, but L20 & Sixteen have the best tasting breads I have experienced in Chicago. Pictures below are the butters and one of my favorite breads of the night, a pretzel roll:
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Grilled Wagyu Beef; true Japanese Wagyu, grade A5 - one of the best courses:
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Veal Cheek: Very tender and good, but along with the cucumber course not quite up there with the other savories IMHO:
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Maitake - My wife opted for the flora option for the veal cheek course:
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Intermezzo - Caramel flavored bite. Those who have dined at Alinea will recognize the service piece as the same that is used for the Black Truffle Explosion course:
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Paoched Quince; first dessert, tasted kind of like applesauce on steroids, really tasty but perhaps just a tad too sweet:
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Carmelized Sudachi; also quite good, but the desserts overall are not quite as exquisite as the savories:
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Dark Chocolate; my wife felt the final of the three desserts were the best:
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Roasted Pumpkin; I am not a big fan of dark chocolate so opted for the flora dessert for my final course - this was quite good, but the pumpkin flavor was a tad too subtle:
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Mignardises; some caramel popcorn with a thin chocolate with liquid inside that tastes like caramel popcorn (excellent) and hazelnut chocolate (which my wife was blown away by - but due to the dark coloring picture is hard to discern):
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After dinner we received a kitchen tour, got to chat for some time with Michael Muser - the general manager/partner (a really friendly person) and met Chef Duffy!
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Grace is such a beautiful restaurant - even the bathrooms are cool. They have four unisex bathrooms each themed for a different season (the theme of nature also permeates the cuisine and decor). The "winter" bathroom is by far the best (well, of the three I saw, I am saving fall for next time) and is not to be missed - the sink looks like a glacier and the walls like ice crystals (only negative was it was really difficulty to figure out how to turn the darn faucet on - FYI pull up on the lever right of the faucet):
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Here is the private dining room, set adjacent to the kitchen. Parties of up to seven can be accommodated in the main dining room; this private room is for a minimum of seven (if I heard right) and up to ten (Chef Duffy prefers to not serve more than ten at once to prevent a dip in quality):
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Grace will be doing major changes to their menu each season and minor changes on a week-to-week basis. We will almost certainly be returning again in the spring due to having such an amazing overall experience; kudos to Chef Duffy on creating a truly world class restaurant and thank you to all the front of the house staff for providing us with such a memorable evening!
Last edited by Gonzo70 on January 20th 2013, 3:42pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#7
Posted January 20th 2013, 9:21am
Thanks for the report - sounds great!

Their website says "Cocktail attire is recommended at Grace." I assume this means jackets recommended/required for gentlemen? Were all the gentlemen wearing jackets when you were there, and women dressed up similarly appropriate? (Sorry but this is the first time I've heard the term "cocktail attire".)

Gonzo70 wrote:312-234-9494 (Reservations accepted via telephone only so far as I know)

Reservations are accepted up to two months in advance, to the day, and are taken Tuesdays through Saturdays. So this Tuesday January 22 they will start accepting reservations for Friday March 22.
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#8
Posted January 20th 2013, 9:42am
Fwiw, Grace is on Open Table--no idea how realistic it is to go that route to book, at least this early on.
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#9
Posted January 20th 2013, 10:26am
Gonzo70 wrote:The "winter" bathroom is by far the best (well, of the three I saw, I am saving fall for next time) and is not to be missed - the sink looks like a glacier and the walls like ice crystals (only negative was it was really difficulty to figure out how to turn the darn faucet on - FYI pull up on the level right of the faucet)


Haha, I also had problems with the faucet. I was really afraid I was going to break their sink on the first night. Nice tip to future diners.
Last edited by Hurdler4eva on January 20th 2013, 1:37pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#10
Posted January 20th 2013, 1:15pm
nsxtasy wrote:Thanks for the report - sounds great!

Their website says "Cocktail attire is recommended at Grace." I assume this means jackets recommended/required for gentlemen? Were all the gentlemen wearing jackets when you were there, and women dressed up similarly appropriate? (Sorry but this is the first time I've heard the term "cocktail attire".)



That is a good question and I do not have a definitive answer; I think that it is jackets recommended and not required (as when they called to confirm the reservation they did not mention needing a jacket as venues that require jackets generally do). That said the dining room is extremely elegant and everybody I noticed was wearing a jacket or a suit - though there may have been a couple people dressed more casually that I did not notice. Most (but not all) women were sporting fancy dresses.

I guess I have to plead guilty to paying a bit more attention to what the women were wearing than the men as I did some people watching. :D

With regards to Open Table it seems as though there is ample availability on weeknights, but zero availability on weekends; not sure if weekends are already completely booked out for the next two months, or those may be booked via telephone.
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#11
Posted January 20th 2013, 2:27pm
I would estimate that 75% - 80% of the men had jackets. The women were dressed up too, many wearing cocktail dresses.
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#12
Posted February 14th 2013, 6:28pm
Today's Tribune featured a stunning long-form profile of Grace chef/owner Curtis Duffy. No words - other than to say that Kevin Pang is a terrific writer. Essential reading.
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#13
Posted February 14th 2013, 8:41pm
Thanks for pointing to that article - it's really quite a moving tale.

So many folks who cook talk of rough earlier years and discovering the kitchen as a real haven ... there surely is something superbly healing in both the necessary order and the act of making food for guests .
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#14
Posted February 14th 2013, 10:25pm
I think restaurants are also a haven for people that are high-strung and/or are adrenaline junkies. A couple of people I know crashed and burned in multiple arenas of life before finding their niche as a line cook.

That article deserves a Pulitzer or other high honor.
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#15
Posted February 15th 2013, 4:10pm
sundevilpeg wrote:Today's Tribune featured a stunning long-form profile of Grace chef/owner Curtis Duffy. No words - other than to say that Kevin Pang is a terrific writer. Essential reading.

Agreed.
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#16
Posted February 16th 2013, 12:29pm
TomInSkokie wrote:That article deserves a Pulitzer or other high honor.


He's gotta be the early front runner for the James Beard.
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#17
Posted February 16th 2013, 6:10pm
jfibro wrote:
TomInSkokie wrote:That article deserves a Pulitzer or other high honor.


He's gotta be the early front runner for the James Beard.


Pang should be the Tribune's restaurant critic. He writes from a place of passion and knowledge.
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#18
Posted February 16th 2013, 8:49pm
Pang should be the Tribune's restaurant critic. He writes from a place of passion and knowledge.


From Kevin's Tumblr blog:

"...Chicago Tribune features reporter, writing about food, comedy and pop culture. He has written for the Los Angeles Times and has contributed to Lucky Peach, ESPN the Magazine and public radio's "This American Life." Kevin has been nominated for three James Beard Awards..."

Somehow, I don't think that being a restaurant critic is his goal. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but The Panger's got a lot more in mind, I'd guess.

Also, speaking of Trib restaurant critics, Phil Vettel replied to me on the Beard award question: ". . . because the story was published in Feb 2013, it'll will be eligible for next year's Beards."
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#19
Posted February 18th 2013, 1:55pm
Add me to the list of those who loved Kevin Pang's article about Curtis Duffy. Wow, what a memorable piece. I am looking forward to seeing his documentary. If you haven’t read this yet, read it now. It is one of the longer pieces I’ve ever seen in the Trib, but worth every minute of your time. Pang brings passion to everything he writes. He handles this powerful story about Grace with grace.
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#20
Posted February 18th 2013, 2:45pm
It is one of the longer pieces I’ve ever seen in the Trib, but worth every minute of your time.


Maybe if the paper actually invested in stories that long and well-written they'd actually start getting some readers back.
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#21
Posted February 24th 2013, 12:08pm
Coming to this late but oh my god this is an awesome essay.
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#22
Posted February 24th 2013, 1:10pm
Apparently (and strangely) it wasn't universally beloved. From Time Out Chicago's Frank Sennett's twitter feed on Feb 21:

"If you want uncritical treacle, go see Pang."
"He is the worst feature writer in Chicago, easily. And you love him because he is uncritical pap."
"The underlying story of his latest piece is amazing. The writing is Hallmark."

Woah.
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#23
Posted February 24th 2013, 5:01pm
jfibro wrote:Apparently (and strangely) it wasn't universally beloved. From Time Out Chicago's Frank Sennett's twitter feed on Feb 21:

"If you want uncritical treacle, go see Pang."
"He is the worst feature writer in Chicago, easily. And you love him because he is uncritical pap."
"The underlying story of his latest piece is amazing. The writing is Hallmark."

Woah.


Okay class, can we say "bush league"? You want to think all that, be my guest; but when you are the editor-in-chief of a competitor, it comes off as, oh, sour grapes, juvenile, you name it. Reminds me of another...oh, never mind.
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#24
Posted April 21st 2013, 7:41am
I really, really wanted to love Grace. Chef Duffy's story is both heart-breaking and inspiring. I like the idea of the restaurant and the look of the restaurant. I was ready to be wowed.

It wasn't very good. The food was fine, I guess - not exactly what you want to think for 185/pp. Some decent ideas, but for the most part each course had too many things going on and were overwhelming. Nothing was left to shine on its own. The service was pretty amateurish (for example, three times they brought courses when a person in our group was using the restroom, descriptions were either lacking confidence or rushed through like a bad line-reading). It's weird being in a room with dudes wearing business casual and others dressed as if going to Alinea.

After dinner not a single person in our party of six referenced the food itself as great. We all had a great time chatting and being together, but we didn't have a great meal. No "oh my god the so-and-so was AMAZING" or "I want more of that such-and-such."

Bummed.
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#25
Posted April 21st 2013, 10:10am
disagree wrote:It's weird being in a room with dudes wearing business casual and others dressed as if going to Alinea.



I thought they enforced a dress code here?
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#26
Posted April 21st 2013, 10:29am
mgmcewen wrote:
disagree wrote:It's weird being in a room with dudes wearing business casual and others dressed as if going to Alinea.



I thought they enforced a dress code here?

Jackets are not required for men at Grace.

=R=
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"That's right - I'll combine an entree and a side into a Superdish. I don't give a f*ck!" --Beverly Goldberg

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#27
Posted April 21st 2013, 10:30am
mgmcewen wrote:
disagree wrote:It's weird being in a room with dudes wearing business casual and others dressed as if going to Alinea.



I thought they enforced a dress code here?
Website says "Cocktail attire is recommended."

I saw a diner wearing a long-seeve polo shirt and khakis. Lots of no jackets.

I wore a suit and tie because I like to look good. :D
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#28
Posted April 21st 2013, 10:36am
Not saying this is the case with disagree but I always LOL when some diners make what other diners are wearing their business, especially when the other diners are in compliance with the dress code restaurant sets forth. If that's all it takes to diminish a meal for someone, it's really unfortunate. The tables at Grace are so large and so far apart from each other, when I ate there I could barely determine what the other people at my table were wearing. :wink:

I was at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Paris last October and someone in the dining room was wearing jeans. No one seemed to care, least of all chef, who came out and chatted with the diner for quite some time.

=R=
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"That's right - I'll combine an entree and a side into a Superdish. I don't give a f*ck!" --Beverly Goldberg

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

Twitter: ronniesuburban
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#29
Posted April 21st 2013, 10:55am
ronnie_suburban wrote:Not saying this is the case with disagree but I always LOL when some diners make what other diners are wearing their business, especially when the other diners are in compliance with the dress code restaurant sets forth. If that's all it takes to diminish a meal for someone, it's really unfortunate. The tables at Grace are so large and so far apart from each other, when I ate there I could barely determine what the other people at my table were wearing. :wink:

I was at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Paris last October and someone in the dining room was wearing jeans. No one seemed to care, least of all chef, who came out and chatted with the diner for quite some time.

=R=

I think the only reason it was noticeable was because I was under the impression that part of grace's ethos was an attempt to be more formal. Recommending cocktail attire is a pretty strong statement to that end. I think they should either require it, or just drop it from their site.

By itself it wouldn't have diminished the meal, but the rest of the experience was so disappointing that it was just another thing that bugged me.
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#30
Posted April 21st 2013, 11:46am
ronnie_suburban wrote:I was at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Paris last October and someone in the dining room was wearing jeans. No one seemed to care, least of all chef, who came out and chatted with the diner for quite some time.

=R=


To be fair, I've seen plenty of people wearing jeans look much, much better and "put together" than people wearing suits.
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