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:
Osetra Caviar in a Meyer Lemon Gel; reminded me of a sweeter version of Per Se's Oysters & Pearls:
Nairagi; a type of marlin served inside a ginger crystal, you break everything open and mix together - my 3rd favorite course of the night:
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:
Warm Cucumber: While there were no duds, this was one of my least favorite of the courses:
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:
Grilled Wagyu Beef; true Japanese Wagyu, grade A5 - one of the best courses:
Veal Cheek: Very tender and good, but along with the cucumber course not quite up there with the other savories IMHO:
Maitake - My wife opted for the flora option for the veal cheek course:
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:
Paoched Quince; first dessert, tasted kind of like applesauce on steroids, really tasty but perhaps just a tad too sweet:
Carmelized Sudachi; also quite good, but the desserts overall are not quite as exquisite as the savories:
Dark Chocolate; my wife felt the final of the three desserts were the best:
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:
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):
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!
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):
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):
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!