LTH Home

42 grams

42 grams
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 3
  • 42 grams

    Post #1 - January 13th, 2014, 12:02 pm
    Post #1 - January 13th, 2014, 12:02 pm Post #1 - January 13th, 2014, 12:02 pm
    42 grams, mentioned in last quarter's openings thread officially opened this past Friday. As was discussed prior this is the "legit" place from the chef and team behind the underground restaurant, Sous Rising.

    Here's a short post on their opening from Uptown Update: http://www.uptownupdate.com/2014/01/42-grams-opening.html

    I had a couple of excellent meals at Sous Rising (in terms of both cuisine and hospitality), so I definitely hope to get up to 42 grams soon. From the photos and description in the Uptown post, it looks like they are trying to recreate the in-home feel of the underground dining experience in their new setting.

    Anyone attend their opening this past weekend?

    42 grams
    4662 North Broadway
    Chicago, IL 60640
    http://www.42gramschicago.com/
    "This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn." Bernard DeVoto, The Hour.
  • Post #2 - January 13th, 2014, 12:14 pm
    Post #2 - January 13th, 2014, 12:14 pm Post #2 - January 13th, 2014, 12:14 pm
    When they switch out of communal seating, I'll be there!
  • Post #3 - January 13th, 2014, 3:52 pm
    Post #3 - January 13th, 2014, 3:52 pm Post #3 - January 13th, 2014, 3:52 pm
    I loved Sous Rising and had three wonderful dinners there. I think that Chef Jake is immensely talented and full of potential, but I had a bit of sticker shock with the pricing for 42 Grams. While I think that eventually he will be able to command $155 per/person (just over $200 once tax and gratuity are automatically assessed), personally I feel it may be a challenge to consistently fill seats at this time. There is nearly double the seating capacity at 42 Grams versus Sous Rising and far more seatings per week. For the very short term there is probably a number of fans of Sous Rising willing to shell out the $155, but I do not see this price as being sustainable until Chef Jake has established himself more.

    Since 42 Grams is a casual fine dining, tasting menu only BYOB it makes sense to compare it to Chicago's other top BYOB venues featuring tasting menus. Goosefoot's opening price was just $90; while it has gradually risen to $135 it still is $20 less than 42 Grams and Chef Nugent had far more experience and credentials at the time he opened Goosefoot. Schwa even today is around $110 (if my memory serves me correctly) and Chef Carlson is far more experienced and recognized. El Ideas pricing when it first opened was $135 - so $20 less expensive than 42 Grams. I believe it is now $145 on weeknights and $165 on weekends, so comparable to 42 Grams, but at this point Chef Foss is far more experienced and established.

    Other reasonable comparisons for 42 Grams would be Senza (tasting menu with a former Schwa sous chef, like Chef Jake) is priced at $125 (and was $100 when they first opened) and Elizabeth - a former underground chef (One Sister) which currently is $100 on weeknights and $145 to $165 on weekends. Elizabeth did start with rather high pricing, but lowered prices fairly quickly and at times has had the full tasting menu as low as $65.

    All five of these restaurants (El Ideas, Schwa, Goosefoot, El Ideas and Elizabeth) have earned Michelin stars. Based on my three meals at Sous Rising I think Chef Jake clearly has Michelin star potential, but IMHO he needs to bring prices down and make 42 Grams affordable and approachable enough to bring in a steady stream of guests, even if that means needing to cut back a bit on the menu or some of the expensive ingredients to be profitable. Perhaps even offering a shorter, less expensive menu as an option (to widen the range of people that could afford to dine here) and/or decreased pricing on weeknights (like El Ideas, Elizabeth, Next and Alinea have). The fact that 42 Grams has communal seating (none of the five other restaurants I used for comparison have this - though Elizabeth did when it first opened) further brings the value down a bit and discourages some people from dining here (as does the nonrefundable ticket policy). It is also not yet clear if 42 Grams will be flexible and efficient in making accommodations to the menu for dietary aversions/preferences (they already list on their website certain dietary restrictions they cannot accommodate).

    Hopefully I am wrong and Chef Jake is able to flourish at his current pricing, but if seats frequently go unsold hopefully he will be quick to adapt (like Chef Regan was) and adjust pricing and (if necessary) the format so that the restaurant will be busy. I am excited for 42 Grams, wish them much success and definitely plan on dining here (hopefully many times), but for the time being am taking a wait-and-see approach and will be interested in the feedback from those that do partake.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #4 - January 17th, 2014, 4:19 pm
    Post #4 - January 17th, 2014, 4:19 pm Post #4 - January 17th, 2014, 4:19 pm
    I agree charging the same price for weeknight and weekend dinners is an interesting choice (my hunch is that they are thinking if the meals are same, so should the price). I'm sure this along with a lot of other things will have to work themselves out (I also found it odd that they list the full price of $203 instead of $155 + Tax & Service. Trivial, but it can make a difference). At the Sous Rising dinners I attended, Chef Jake accommodated a pescatarian and a vegetarian (pretty amazing considering he was cooking for just ten) so assume 42 grams will welcome diners with similar dietary restrictions.

    As for the communal seating, I assume that they are trying to replicate the "in home" feel of the Sous Rising experience - the photos seem to convey this as well. Is that even feasible and more importantly will diners go for it? Time will tell. It certainly didn't last long at Elizabeth; but communal chef's tables certainly worked elsewhere.

    42 grams has received a good bit of publicity so far. And I know Yelp is a 4 letter word around here, but they already have 3 reviews up. I'm eagerly awaiting the first LTH review...
    "This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn." Bernard DeVoto, The Hour.
  • Post #5 - January 17th, 2014, 4:44 pm
    Post #5 - January 17th, 2014, 4:44 pm Post #5 - January 17th, 2014, 4:44 pm
    ReddiWhipSmart wrote:I agree charging the same price for weeknight and weekend dinners is an interesting choice (my hunch is that they are thinking if the meals are same, so should the price). I'm sure this along with a lot of other things will have to work themselves out (I also found it odd that they list the full price of $203 instead of $155 + Tax & Service. Trivial, but it can make a difference). At the Sous Rising dinners I attended, Chef Jake accommodated a pescatarian and a vegetarian (pretty amazing considering he was cooking for just ten) so assume 42 grams will welcome diners with similar dietary restrictions.

    As for the communal seating, I assume that they are trying to replicate the "in home" feel of the Sous Rising experience - the photos seem to convey this as well. Is that even feasible and more importantly will diners go for it? Time will tell. It certainly didn't last long at Elizabeth; but communal chef's tables certainly worked elsewhere.

    42 grams has received a good bit of publicity so far. And I know Yelp is a 4 letter word around here, but they already have 3 reviews up. I'm eagerly awaiting the first LTH review...


    It is nice to see the buzz they are receiving as well as the very positive Yelp reviews (I actually use Yelp quite a bit and think it can be very useful if one quickly dismisses the silly reviews and finds some frequent reviewers who have similar taste as you - but a lot on this forum definitely feel they are "above" Yelp).

    I think the Chef's Counter will be an easier sell than the Communal Table. I really enjoyed the Chef's Counter at Atera in New York and this seems to be set up similarly. Communal tables I enjoy, but generally at a lower price point. If I am shelling out $200+ per/person I do not want to risk an awkward experience with odd tablemates (fortunately only had one really strange person at a communal table so far and he was more amusing than a hindrance to my experience, though I was upset at how he treated the server).

    I also am eagerly anticipating a first hand review of 42 Grams here; it would be hard not to love Jake's cooking and Alexa's hospitality, but my only concern is the price point.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #6 - February 25th, 2014, 4:58 am
    Post #6 - February 25th, 2014, 4:58 am Post #6 - February 25th, 2014, 4:58 am
    Reviews have been real good
  • Post #7 - April 12th, 2014, 1:02 pm
    Post #7 - April 12th, 2014, 1:02 pm Post #7 - April 12th, 2014, 1:02 pm
    I finally had the pleasure of dining at 42 grams this past weekend. To put it simply, our meal at 42 grams was phenomenal and I cannot wait to go back. Chef Jake is one of Chicago's most talented chefs and his food continues to impress. And with the intimate, dinner-party-with-friends vibe masterfully orchestrated by wife/hostess/master-of-ceremonies Alexa, 42 grams offers a fine dining experience unparalleled in its hospitality, cuisine, and uniqueness.

    Sous Rising was an incredible experience. I remember riding the red line to Uptown last March thinking "What am I getting myself into?" We were invited into a modest city apartment and seated at a large table with 8 strangers next to the open kitchen. Alexa warmly welcomed us to their home, and Chef Jake produced a knock-out procession of a dozen or so courses that emerged from an unremarkable residential kitchen. The juxtaposition of dishes that would not be out of place at Alinea or Grace served in a cozy apartment to a communal table of ten was an unforgettable dining experience.

    Before our meal, my biggest concern was that something would be lost in the transition from Sous Rising to 42 grams. Fortunately, that concern was unwarranted.

    The 42 grams dining room is intimate and tastefully eclectic. There is the gorgeous 10-seat dining table and the 8-seat chef's counter with front row seats to the kitchen. Old wood crates and rake heads fastened to the walls function as wine glass storage. The largest piece of art in the room is a giant frame containing the wine corks from bottles brought by guests of both Sous Rising and 42 grams (42g is BYOB). The staff remains small: Chef had chef de partie, Mike and a dishwasher assisting him in the kitchen, and Alexa was assisted by Emily in the front of the house.

    We opted for the counter seating and watched as our dishes were meticulously plated (spoiler: lots of tweezing). This was an interesting change from our Sous Rising experience; there the only dining option was the 10 person communal table, and while one could see into the kitchen and watch Chef Jake cook, often the friendly discussion at the table would command attention and dishes would suddenly appear, as if by magic. Sitting at the counter at 42 grams and watching the kitchen workings was fascinating, but as we were leaving and the communal table was starting their meal I was slightly envious. I'm not sure if I'd choose the counter or the table on a return visit. Accordingly, for those who are not fans of communal dining, the counter is an excellent option.

    The meal was a perfectly paced 14-course tasting menu that hit all of the right notes. After having dined at Sous Rising just this past November, I was pleasantly surprised how many dishes were new. Roughly half were the same or very similar to previous Sous Rising dishes, but these were primarily small-bite transitional courses; the featured dishes of the meal were all new. Chef Jake clearly has a full range of gastronomic tricks up his sleeve, but skillfully shows restraint in their use. The food is gorgeous, but it's not a spectacle. Through the course of the evening it becomes apparent that Jake carefully sources his ingredients (Skuna Bay salmon, Hudson Valley Foie Gras) and has an affinity for Asian flavors.

    I should note that my wife is a vegetarian, and Chef Jake was more than happy to accommodate her. In many instances he switched up the protein (once for "the best tofu I've ever had"), but for a few courses she had a completely separate dish. Remarkable, considering they were serving only eight of us at the counter.

    A few of the highlights:
    Image
    Salad - beetroot macaroon, shallot, quail yolk, fromage blanc, lettuce & herbs

    Image
    Flavors of the Sea - Skuna Bay salmon, trout roe, Veta la Plama phytoplankton, sea grape, dashi
    This dish was a tribute to one of Chef Jake's mentors Charlie Trotter, and based on Chef Trotter's wish of a last supper that included "many courses of tiny, raw, delicate seafood."

    Image
    Sweetbread - creme fraiche, horseradish, pomegranat, oxalis, apple

    Image
    Duck - umeboshi, long bean, ash-baked eggplant, red shiso

    Image
    Hudson Valley Foie Gras - pear, cipollini onion, daikon, mustard, BLiS elixer

    Image
    Sweet - dark chocolate, blood orange, BLiS bourbon maple, pretzel, yogurt, bubble gum hyssop

    42 grams was a fabulous meal and all in all, a wonderful, fun evening. Chef mentioned that he would soon be transitioning to a spring menu; we will definitely be back.
    "This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn." Bernard DeVoto, The Hour.
  • Post #8 - April 12th, 2014, 2:17 pm
    Post #8 - April 12th, 2014, 2:17 pm Post #8 - April 12th, 2014, 2:17 pm
    Thank you for the great review! We're very happy you loved your experience at 42 grams. We look forward to you guys coming back when the menu changes over soon.

    And, thank you for the awesome Italian IPA. It was so good.

    Cheers!
    Sous Rising
  • Post #9 - April 26th, 2014, 8:08 pm
    Post #9 - April 26th, 2014, 8:08 pm Post #9 - April 26th, 2014, 8:08 pm
    Just in case there is a case of underground-dining-to-brick-and-mortar fatigue going on, let me suggest that you immediately get rid of your concerns and make your way to 42 Grams in Uptown. Yes, last night's dinner was certainly the best I've ever had in a restaurant space formerly devoted to fried chicken, but more importantly one of the very best I've ever enjoyed, and in just about every respect.

    There are two seating options, the 8-seat kitchen counter and the 10-seat table. Our group of four sat at the counter but if you wanted to see what the table looks like, here you go:

    Image
    Communal table at 42 Grams



    Chef Jake Bickelhaupt worked at Alinea and there are aspects of dining at 42 Grams that may remind you of dining at Alinea. Perhaps one such area is the seating. Though this is certainly not what Alinea is noted for, I've always felt Alinea separated itself from other restaurants is with its incredibly comfortable seating. Similarly, I found the stools at the counter at 42 Grams to be among the most comfortable at any restaurant. Dinner takes roughly 2 hours, 15 minutes, so needless to say, it's appreciated.

    And from the kitchen counter, you usually get a nice view of the plating and the food prep. Here's a peek - it also let's you know immediately that modernist cooking is part of Chef Jake's repertoire:

    Image
    View from chef's counter at 42 Grams



    Perhaps another influence from Alinea was the centerpiece:

    Image
    Table centerpiece



    Only half-jokingly, I wondered allowed what parts were edible. In fact, as you've certainly experienced at both Next and Alinea, the centerpiece featured edible items. Each centerpiece provided the first course for two persons each, from front to back on both sides: an onion crisp, fish and chips and what I think was a kale chip of sorts:

    Image
    Close-up of centerpiece



    Though traditional bread courses seem less common at many modernist restaurants, this starter seemed to play that role, and very well I'd say. The brittle onion crisp was deliciously savory with great onion flavor, and the fish & chips definitely delivered that flavor with the texture of a chicharon. These were nice little snacks to enjoy while we sipped our sparkling wine.

    The next course was no less visually stunning, a cocktail unlike any other:

    Image
    "Cocktail"


    What appears to be an ice cube is actually gin jelly. There's the exploding sphere of cucumber and lime juice. And there's rosewater snow, hibiscus powder and an orchid flower. The cocktail was both fragrant and delicious. And yet, though I loved almost everything about this cocktail, I'll admit that it took some concerted effort to distance myself from the rosewater - some water and some wine as I didn't want the rosewater to affect my palate for the following courses.

    A wonderful fingerling potato soup followed. Crisp chips of tomato and potato garnished this silky smooth soup, along with caviar and the first signs of spring, greens and peas. Perhaps a small departure departure from modernist cooking, the elegant richness of this soup brought me back to the days of finer French dining at the likes of Le Francais.

    Image
    Fingerling potato soup



    I don't have many friends that are beets. We just don't get along. One of the few instances I recall enjoying beets was at the long since departed Mado, where they were raw, shaved and dressed I believe with ras el hanout. So I was naturally skeptical when served a salad consisting of a beet macaron, greens, herbs, a quail egg yolk and fromage blanc. But this salad was fantastic, thanks in no small part to the delicious beet macaron, which also added a crisp textural bite to the salad, and the sous vide-cooked quail egg yolk rich added a lovely richness to the final bites. A magnificent salad course.

    Image
    Salad with beet macaron, fromage blanc and quail egg yolk



    It's amazing how one small bite can deliver so much flavor, but that's just what the tom kha gai course did. A small spoon of coconut noodles with finger lime was absolutely delicious, and also seemed like a palate refresher, as if to signal a change in direction to a more substantial part of the menu.

    Image
    Tom kha gai bite



    A number cookbooks sit on the counter in the kitchen, but partially visible from the kitchen counter. Among the shelf of cookbooks there was the Joy of Cooking, the Manresa cookbook, A Day at El Bulli and four Charlie Trotter cookbooks. And the next course paid homage to Charlie Trotter, where Jake once worked. Salmon nigiri, garnished with trout roe and sea grapes, and resting next to powdered phytoplankton. There was also a glass of dashi, to be treated as a nigiri chaser.

    The salmon was beautifully sliced, like butter on the tongue, and the garnishes were fantastic. I'll take issue with the rice though, which was too sticky for nigiri. But the flavors were still terrific, and the dashi was really sensational, delivering an intense and complex array of flavors, thanks in part to the salmon bones used to make it. If Jake ever decides to throw himself into the Japanese noodle trend, this dashi could carry him a long way. My only complaint with the dashi is that I would have preferred a whole carafe of it - as it was, it was just the perfect amount to finish this course.

    Image

    Image
    Salmon nigiri and dashi chaser



    If you want to make me happy, just serve me a lobe or two (or three) of uni. So suffice to say I was pleased that the next course consisted of a lobe of Santa Barbara uni topped with a sea bean, resting atop a round of toasted, buttery brioche and a yuzu and vinegar foam. Well, no complaints about the uni. And though I really enjoyed this dish, I think I would have liked just a little less vinegar kick. I always enjoy vinegar, and love contrasts in flavors, but I thought the vinegar just dominated a little too much here. Perhaps this was caused by me mostly eating the uni first. If that was the problem, perhaps an instruction to have a taste of everything in each bite would go a long way.

    Image
    Santa Barbara uni, brioche, yuzu and vinegar foam



    One interesting note is the slight apologetic tone 42 Grams took when serving a few more exotic, perhaps more polarizing, ingredients such as uni, sweetbreads and duck tongue. 42 Grams certainly encourages diners to try these items, but with a slight training wheel approach in the presentation. I guess I thought that if you're attending a set tasting menu with 10-plus courses, you go in knowing your palate will be tested. Perhaps I'm wrong and not experienced enough to judge. But I wondered whether 42 Grams was a bit too protective in the presentation, though I salute them for serving a number of these ingredients throughout the evening (which are very expensive too), which I thought really elevated the experience. And I hope they never let a few diners' fears of trying new items steer them away from the incredibly unique menu they're offering. But I digress.

    So speaking of perhaps exotic ingredients, sweetbreads with horseradish and pomegranate. The sweetbreads were beautifully crisped, moist, tender and delicious. And I really thought this dish was excellent, though I though that there was too much horseradish, such that with a few bites, the horseradish (wonderful as it was) really overwhelmed the other flavors.

    Image
    Sweetbreads



    The next course was a unique palate cleanser, and one which I thought really set up the following course. A small round tamarind-flavored taffy sat on the end of a eucalyptus stem. Tamarind is tart and this taffy was certainly tart, and I enjoyed how the eucalyptus gently perfumed the air.

    Image

    Image
    Tamarind taffy on eucalyptus stem



    Anticipation was building up, and the main course of the evening would not disappoint. Duck breast with duck cracklings, crisped duck tongue, long beans, umeboshi and powdered eggplant was sensational. The duck was so perfectly cooked, just tender enough, and so flavorful. As rich and hearty as this dish was, I was happy how it was set up by the tart tamarind taffy, and also contrasted by the umeboshi. I love duck and I cannot recall ever tasting a better duck course.

    Image
    Duck with umeboshi



    Continuing on the topic of things I love, foie gras, and 42 Grams does this rich, fatty treat proud. It's served atop a roasted cipollini onion and pear with daikon and a syrup I can't recall well enough. But I know it was great.

    Image
    Foie gras, cipollini onion and pear



    Another unique palate cleanser, calamansi juice encased in white chocolate and topped with cherry sage blossom. The very tart juice was also interesting, slightly citrus-like yet with other flavors I couldn't quite detect, but with the tartness offset some by the thin white chocolate exterior.

    Image
    Calamansi juice in white chocolate



    I've complained about high end restaurants that forego traditional pastry chefs and turn out desserts not worthy of the savory portions of their menus. I get a little more frustrated each time this happens and honestly, I expected to have the same complaint here. I'm happy to say that the main dessert course at 42 Grams was terrific. A dense, dark chocolate terrine, with maple-bourbon ice cream and pretzel crumble (can't remember what the fruit glass was on top). The chocolate was rich and fantastic and the ice cream had the smooth texture and intense flavor of a great gelato. The crisp pretzel crumbs and fruit glass added the perfect textural twists to this dessert, and hyssop added some beauty. I hope that 42 Grams can continue to develop great dessert courses. They proved to me last night that it's not impossible.

    Image
    Dark chocolate dessert with maple-bourbon ice cream and pretzel crumble



    Back to modernist cooking for the cheese course, an intense burst of excellent Pecorino but in the form of an overgrown chicharon with Pecorino foam and fondue. Perfection.

    Image
    Pecorino



    And what would an exotic meal be without an exotic coffee to finish it off. Here, a chicory coffee mousse is topped with a fragrant cardamom foam that reminds me of something I might find in Africa or India. More amazing and unique flavors.

    Image
    Coffee mousse with cardamom



    This really was one of the best meals I've ever had. Of course not every one of the fifteen courses was perfect, but I was dazzled by the eclectic array of ingredients, unique and beautiful presentations, exotic flavors and different cooking techniques. And obviously, the vast majority of the courses thrilled me. In fact, minor complaints with a few dishes aside, there was not a single course I did not enjoy. In my experience, that's really remarkable with such a large tasting menu.

    And service was fantastic from the minute we walked in the door to the minute we left. Alexa, Jake's wife, manages the front of house and describes courses with the skill of a seasoned restaurant vet, and two other servers capably seat diners, fill water glasses, chill wine, and pick among your wines to select the appropriate ones for each course. Jake and his sous chef happily interact with diners and are proud to discuss the various courses, really making for a great interactive experience.

    Also, though I'll admit that my wine knowledge, particularly stemware knowledge, is somewhat limited, I was amazed to see the number of different shaped glasses offered, in our case different ones for each of the five wines we brought. The fact that no detail was overlooked was also evident in the large, nicely decorated bathrooms. In my experience, that's a rare occurrence in this type of restaurant (i.e. lightly staffed, limited seats).

    With respect to my descriptions above, I'm operating a little on memory as I accidentally left my menu at the restaurant. I guess that just means I'll have to return sooner rather than later. I can't believe what 42 Grams is accomplishing at such a young age. You'd really be foolish to sit back and not give them a try. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, there are so many fantastic restaurants in this city. But without question, 42 Grams is exceptional and operating at a level that only a handful of restaurants in this city can achieve. Go, and go now.

    And here are a couple more random pictures I took:

    Image


    Image


    note: minor edits, none to substance
    Last edited by BR on April 27th, 2014, 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #10 - April 27th, 2014, 6:59 am
    Post #10 - April 27th, 2014, 6:59 am Post #10 - April 27th, 2014, 6:59 am
    Thanks for the report BR, gonna try to make it over later this summer.
  • Post #11 - April 27th, 2014, 10:13 am
    Post #11 - April 27th, 2014, 10:13 am Post #11 - April 27th, 2014, 10:13 am
    $200 for foams and jellies at a communal table?

    Maybe 8 years ago.
  • Post #12 - April 27th, 2014, 11:30 am
    Post #12 - April 27th, 2014, 11:30 am Post #12 - April 27th, 2014, 11:30 am
    disagree wrote:$200 for foams and jellies at a communal table?

    Maybe 8 years ago.


    I can't think of a tasting menu I've done recently that didn't involve some sort of foams or jellies at some point in the evening.

    Nice pictures of what looks and sounds like a great meal at 42 Grams. The favorable reviews keep pushing this up higher on my list of places to try the next time I venture over to Chicago for a food retreat.
  • Post #13 - April 27th, 2014, 11:45 am
    Post #13 - April 27th, 2014, 11:45 am Post #13 - April 27th, 2014, 11:45 am
    pepsican wrote:
    disagree wrote:$200 for foams and jellies at a communal table?

    Maybe 8 years ago.


    I can't think of a tasting menu I've done recently that didn't involve some sort of foams or jellies at some point in the evening.


    Indeed.
  • Post #14 - April 27th, 2014, 11:49 am
    Post #14 - April 27th, 2014, 11:49 am Post #14 - April 27th, 2014, 11:49 am
    disagree wrote:$200 for foams and jellies at a communal table?

    Maybe 8 years ago.

    To fill in a few of the details from BR's lovely description and photos, the "crispy snacks" that we started with were a Vidalia onion parchment (intensely concentrated onion, slightly sweet and fragrant), a flax crisp with kale and the fish n chip.

    The "foam" on the uni course consisted of yuzu, Bluegrass aged soy and BLiS maple syrup--it was really more of an emulsion--it was definitely more substantial than what I think of when I hear "foam". To me, it was a delicious contrast to the rich, sweet, fatty uni which I ate by itself, followed by the brioche dredged in the sweet/tart/salty/umami sauce.

    I agree that the horseradish in the Veal Sweetbread course was very prominent--but I liked the boldness and thought that, again, the rich sweetbread was complimented by the sauce, rather than overwhelmed by it.

    In all three of the "protein" courses leading up to the main (the salmon, uni and sweetbread), I can't recall having a more pristine example of that item--and the accompaniments may have included some strong flavors but were all "lighter" preparations. All told, this was the least over-full I've felt at one of these meals and I mean that in a very good way.

    The fruit glass on the main dessert was blood orange and another element that I enjoyed was the hyssop garnish. Interestingly, this course probably had more components than any other on the menu but it never seemed like one too many, as so often seems to happen with the tasting menus of places that don't have a dedicated pastry chef.

    Since I think disagree seems to enjoy throwing flames more than making substantive commentary, I hesitate to even address his silly jibe but I do want to make sure no one else comes away from this thinking that this was about jellies and foams. It's really good food. Exceptionally high quality ingredients. Best service I've had in a similar setting (BYO tasting menu-style spot). Attention to every detail from glassware to seating to what you get to see and hear about what the chefs are creating.

    And if you don't want to interact with anyone disagree, just book a spot at the counter and tell them you want a seat at the end. Problem solved.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #15 - April 27th, 2014, 12:20 pm
    Post #15 - April 27th, 2014, 12:20 pm Post #15 - April 27th, 2014, 12:20 pm
    Thanks Jen for filling in the gaps and for some very worthwhile thoughts for those concerned with communal dining. There are two end seats for those concerned, and if you're in a group of 4 with one person on the end, only 1 of the 4 is exposed to a potentially diseased, felonious, unknown diner.


    pepsican wrote:
    disagree wrote:$200 for foams and jellies at a communal table?

    Maybe 8 years ago.




    I can't think of a tasting menu I've done recently that didn't involve some sort of foams or jellies at some point in the evening.

    Nice pictures of what looks and sounds like a great meal at 42 Grams. The favorable reviews keep pushing this up higher on my list of places to try the next time I venture over to Chicago for a food retreat.

    Thanks pepsican and very true - Disagree, I see that like me, you have also enjoyed your meals at Alinea, where foams and jellies occasionally appear during every meal. In fact, jellies and pates de fruits have been around for eons . . . much more than 8 years. And dense soups like 42 Grams' fingerling potato soup can be recalled from the days of classical French dining. Is that now out of style, inappropriate?

    In any event, I loved just how many cooking and presentation techniques were employed at 42 Grams. I too would be annoyed if foams and jellies were part of nearly every course. But no part of this meal ever seemed monotonous, and the timing of the meal was exceptionally executed. If I ever felt that 42 Grams was just copying what others were already doing (or had done), there's no way I would have enjoyed the meal.

    I should also note that the chef seems to have made the conscious decision to cook a few items sous vide, but not the duck breasts. If you are familiar with, and a fan of, sous vide cooking, you'll notice a lot of people complaint that they don't like the texture of duck or how the skin is rendered when it's cooked sous vide. And these duck breasts were beautifully cooked in a pan. So from what I observed, Chef Jake is very well versed on both modernist and classical cooking techniques. I imagine having worked at Charlie Trotter's, Alinea and Schwa helped in this regard.

    As for the cost, yes it's expensive, but not unreasonable when you consider the ingredients served (for example, caviar, uni, sweetbreads, duck breast, foie gras). So if you decide to pass on 42 Grams based solely upon looking at some pictures and reading some descriptions, that's too bad. You'll be missing out on one of the very best culinary experiences Chicago has to offer.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #16 - April 27th, 2014, 1:12 pm
    Post #16 - April 27th, 2014, 1:12 pm Post #16 - April 27th, 2014, 1:12 pm
    disagree wrote:$200 for foams and jellies at a communal table?

    Maybe 8 years ago.

    And they use forks, too. That's so 4,000 years ago.

    Actually eating there will undoubtedly result in a more informed opinion because until you've tasted the food, you really cannot form a meaningful opinion.

    I ate at 42 grams earlier this month and thought it was terrific. I didn't find anything about it particularly revolutionary but it was a well-prepared, delicious meal from beginning to end. While some of the technique is most definitely Modernist and used by other chefs, that isn't really where the story begins or ends. Eggs are cooked on griddles all over the world and we all know that they don't all taste the same. The same can be said for foams, emulsions, etc. That's simply the mode. It's the execution that matters. Some cooks are just better than others. And to evaluate that, you have to actually eat their food.

    As someone who has had more tasting menus than I can count over the past 10 years, this one stood out for a few reasons. First, the courses were consistently delicious. I never felt like any course was style over substance. And this especially stood out for me in the way the ingredients were showcased via their cooking methods. Proteins were expertly cooked. Compositions combined ingredients in ways that helped accentuate each other, often resulting in dishes that were more than the sum of their parts. The foams actually enhanced the dishes in which they appeared. The progression of courses was also well thought out. The pacing of the meal was excellent. I never felt hurried but it did move along. We were in and out in about 2 hours, not 3 and that was a delight. And that's taking into account the fact that detailed descriptions were provided in advance of each course.

    So, 42 grams might not be entirely new ground but it's a most definitely a worthy dining destination. Chef Bickelhaupt has a great palate, a distinctive culinary vision and some very refined skills. Even though my friend paid, my only complaint would be the pricing, which I think it a bit high. But the byo aspect mitigates that a bit. I look forward to returning as the menu changes and evolves.

    =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 #17 - October 14th, 2014, 10:25 am
    Post #17 - October 14th, 2014, 10:25 am Post #17 - October 14th, 2014, 10:25 am
    Had an excellent meal at 42 Grams over the weekend. They have been serving the current menu for a few weeks now. Every dish was delicious and executed to perfection.

    Below are some highlights.

    SweetPea.JPG Mojama de Atun

    Mojama de Atun: Sweet pea gelato atop of salt cured tuna, sea buckthorn, apricot kernal, oxalis

    FlavorsOfTheSea.JPG Flavors of the Sea

    Flavors of the Sea: Sidestripe shrimp, smoked roe, caviar, phytoplankton, sea vegetables, prawn head froth

    GreenCurry.JPG Green Curry

    Green Curry: White sturgeon, jasmine rice broth, chicken skin, grated cashews

    Salmon.JPG Skuna Bay Salmon

    Skuna Bay Salmon: Tea smoked with fallen pine, matsutake mushroom, spent grain, miso butter, dashi

    Porridge.JPG Cultured Barley Porridge

    Cultured Barley Porridge: Crispy pig heat, pork jowl, enoki, grains, grapefruit, mugolio

    Sweetbread.JPG Veal Sweetbread

    Veal Sweetbread: Foie gras, black truffle, ash-baked eggplant, ground cherry
  • Post #18 - October 14th, 2014, 10:27 am
    Post #18 - October 14th, 2014, 10:27 am Post #18 - October 14th, 2014, 10:27 am
    Wagyu.JPG A5 Miyazaki Wagyu

    A5 Miyazaki Wagyu: triple seared, bone marrow and beef tendon powder, umeboshi, baby bok choy
  • Post #19 - November 16th, 2014, 2:31 pm
    Post #19 - November 16th, 2014, 2:31 pm Post #19 - November 16th, 2014, 2:31 pm
    My dinner at 42 grams last night was fantastic and even better than my first visit. My very favorite courses were:

    Tea-smoked Skuna Bay Salmon with fallen pine, matsutake mushrooms, spent grain and a matsutake dashi. The salmon was like butter and delicious. The spent grain took the form of crunchy toast below the fish that when drizzled with the dashi, softened some. And of course, matsutakes and a fantastic dashi. This was easily the best thing I've eaten this year, and dare I say better than anything I ate in Japan.

    A5 Miyazaki Wagyu, triple seared and served with bone marrow and beef tendon powders, umeboshi and baby bok choy. I was impressed by how much beef flavor the powders delivered, but make no mistake about it, the A5 Wagyu was clearly the star of the dish, and it was sensational. Honestly, I usually don't love the texture or flavor of wagyu as much as a heavily dry aged, funky cut of beef. But this was the best wagyu was the best preparation I've had -- cooked perfectly and better than my recent version at Cut in Vegas and better than the Kobe beef I enjoyed last year in Kyoto.

    Sweet pea gelato with mojama de atun, sea buckthorn, apricot kernel and oxalis. The gelato had a wonderful texture and the combination of the gelato and dried tuna was fantastic.

    White sturgeon with green curry, chicken skin, cashew and jasmine rice. This dish delivered both a terrific green curry flavor and a delicious and perfectly cooked sturgeon. The rice too was so fragrant and delicious.

    Flavors of the sea tribute to Charlie Trotter - carabineros prawn, smoked roe, caviar, phytoplankton and sea vegetables. The prawn delivered magnificent flavor and every other component was perfect, including the hint of lemon that finished the dish. It was so good I'm even willing to overlook the fact that I didn't have uni on this visit.

    Canelé with tamarind, brown butter, roasted banana, hazelnut and bubblegum hyssop. So someone else in Chicago makes a fantastic canelé. Every other element on the dish made the dessert even better.


    Overall, another fantastic meal at 42 Grams and even better than my first meal. To me, the two Michelin stars was an easy call. I've eaten at three-star restaurants where the food wasn't this good. Frankly, I'm stunned just how great the food is considering the minimal staffing. I could understand people being skeptical, but this place is truly special and you really need to check it out. And if you're wondering how 42 grams compares to similarly small restaurants, 42 grams really sets itself apart in its use of high end, exotic foods: A5 wagyu, matsutake mushrooms, carabineros prawn, foie gras, sweetbreads, etc. Those high end ingredients, coupled with great knowledge of how to bring out their best flavors, makes for a perfect dining experience.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #20 - November 17th, 2014, 7:02 pm
    Post #20 - November 17th, 2014, 7:02 pm Post #20 - November 17th, 2014, 7:02 pm
    Looks like they have taken a 20% increase in price to $185 for 2015. This brings it to $243 after tax and mandatory 20% service fee. They've also recently stopped honoring any food restrictions. The food is top notch but it was already a bit pricey for a forced communal BYO for me. As much as I want to go back, I don't see 42 Grams on my list in 2015. Glad to have gone a few times this year, chef Bickelhaupt has been doing great things with food.
  • Post #21 - November 17th, 2014, 9:28 pm
    Post #21 - November 17th, 2014, 9:28 pm Post #21 - November 17th, 2014, 9:28 pm
    brokenspatula wrote:Looks like they have taken a 20% increase in price to $185 for 2015. This brings it to $243 after tax and mandatory 20% service fee. They've also recently stopped honoring any food restrictions. The food is top notch but it was already a bit pricey for a forced communal BYO for me. As much as I want to go back, I don't see 42 Grams on my list in 2015. Glad to have gone a few times this year, chef Bickelhaupt has been doing great things with food.

    42 Grams is by no means inexpensive, but I also have to wonder whether the prior pricing was really at all feasible, especially given the quality of the ingredients they're using, and also considering that they're not getting any revenue from alcohol sales. Anyway, the A5 Wagyu alone is selling for $30 or more per ounce at most restaurants. Add in the matsutakes, sweetbreads, foie gras, black truffle, etc. So I see 42 Grams as the perfect place to bring some really great wines and actually pay less than you would at similar type restaurants.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #22 - November 17th, 2014, 10:12 pm
    Post #22 - November 17th, 2014, 10:12 pm Post #22 - November 17th, 2014, 10:12 pm
    If you break down the minimal seating and cost points multiplied by days open per year, you get they were already due for a price increase, but at $155 it was still the priciest of the BYOB's. At $185, I'll take a more refined and experienced wait staff, better decor, and the option to not have to pick my own beverages. Something can be said for the value in places like Schwa, Goosefoot, and El Ideas, but when you're damn near doubling the price I'm looking for something a bit higher end on all points beyond the food. I go BYOB often to take a group of four without breaking the bank, in this range I'm expecting full luxury in the Chicago area. 42 Grams just hasn't quite captured that for me from an ambiance or service point of view. I wouldn't argue against the food being on that level, because it is and from a strictly food viewpoint, Chicago has worse values than 42 Grams. I'm sure they will flourish riding on the 2* ranking and wish them the best of luck going forward.
  • Post #23 - November 17th, 2014, 10:57 pm
    Post #23 - November 17th, 2014, 10:57 pm Post #23 - November 17th, 2014, 10:57 pm
    Interesting perspective. I consider BYO to be an advantage because I can bring wines that I might never be able to do justice to at home--AND if I selected something at that level off a wine list it would only be more notable for the amount of the mark-up which I don't consider to be an enhancement to the overall experience :)

    As for 42 grams' service, so far, I've only been there once but the service I experienced was as high level as what I've received at Alinea. Not sure that's saying much--Alinea hasn't been close to exemplary in service during my few meals there, mega-stars notwithstanding (to date, the service at Tru back in its heyday was the best I've enjoyed in a restaurant in Chicago). But 42G's service was quite professional and, in particular, I felt Alexa and her team handled everything from the explanations of the courses to the coordination of wine service flawlessly.

    I'll only add that I've been kind of turned off by Chef Bickelhaupt's Twitter chatter lately. Maybe it's stress or maybe he's just one of those folks that shouldn't be tweeting "after hours" but he's said some pretty dumb stuff. Hopefully, the rest of his team will help manage that--I was an unabashed fan before but reading that stuff has made me reluctant to go back, even though I'd been planning on it. Silly, probably, but a reaction is a reaction. When you're sitting a few feet away from the guy, you don't really want to be preoccupied with thinking about some of the petty, nasty stuff he's said about some of his colleagues and customers . Most, if not all of it has been deleted now...
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #24 - November 21st, 2014, 8:31 pm
    Post #24 - November 21st, 2014, 8:31 pm Post #24 - November 21st, 2014, 8:31 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:Interesting perspective. I consider BYO to be an advantage because I can bring wines that I might never be able to do justice to at home--AND if I selected something at that level off a wine list it would only be more notable for the amount of the mark-up which I don't consider to be an enhancement to the overall experience :) .


    I agree 100% on this. BYOB at 42G, EL, Goosefoot, etc is an opportunity, not a detriment. This may sound arrogant, but I can pair wine and food as good as most of the Somms in town, and the ability to pull stuff from my cellar that isn't going to be on most wine lists to enjoy with spectacular food is a great opportunity. Why would you prefer pay an outrageous markup from a wine list? It's not more sophisticated, just more expensive.
    John Danza
  • Post #25 - November 27th, 2014, 2:22 am
    Post #25 - November 27th, 2014, 2:22 am Post #25 - November 27th, 2014, 2:22 am
    Mentioning wine pairings ... any suggestions for what to bring to 42 Grams? Have friends going next year and thinking of getting them a wine for their meal for a Christmas present. Ideas - aiming for the $50-75 range if possible. Not sure they like champagne or I'd have some good ideas.
  • Post #26 - November 27th, 2014, 3:03 am
    Post #26 - November 27th, 2014, 3:03 am Post #26 - November 27th, 2014, 3:03 am
    Siun wrote:Mentioning wine pairings ... any suggestions for what to bring to 42 Grams? Have friends going next year and thinking of getting them a wine for their meal for a Christmas present. Ideas - aiming for the $50-75 range if possible. Not sure they like champagne or I'd have some good ideas.

    Not sure when the menu switches over, and I imagine the pairing recommendation will switch with each menu... but for reference, here is the recommended pairing for the current menu:

    White
    For the first third of the menu, we recommend something seafood friendly, but with a little character like a Viognier. House favorite: 2012 Penner Ash. Note, the balance of the new menu is towards red wine, so one bottle of white wine (or champagne) per couple should be more than enough.

    Red
    We suggest something with a little spice and smoke for the heartier courses, like the 2011 Acustic Montsant...

    ...If you would like to do a separate pairing for dessert, our suggestion is a 20-year-old Tawny Port. If you don't care for port, Tokaji would also work well.

    On average, most guests go through about one bottle per person.

    Hope this helps.
  • Post #27 - November 27th, 2014, 10:46 am
    Post #27 - November 27th, 2014, 10:46 am Post #27 - November 27th, 2014, 10:46 am
    Thanks Core!

    That's really helpful.
  • Post #28 - November 27th, 2014, 11:18 am
    Post #28 - November 27th, 2014, 11:18 am Post #28 - November 27th, 2014, 11:18 am
    Siun wrote:Mentioning wine pairings ... any suggestions for what to bring to 42 Grams? Have friends going next year and thinking of getting them a wine for their meal for a Christmas present. Ideas - aiming for the $50-75 range if possible. Not sure they like champagne or I'd have some good ideas.

    You could always give them a gift certificate for whatever wine/liquor store with a good selection of wines is close to them, and let them make the final decision.
  • Post #29 - November 27th, 2014, 12:47 pm
    Post #29 - November 27th, 2014, 12:47 pm Post #29 - November 27th, 2014, 12:47 pm
    core1521 wrote:
    Siun wrote:Mentioning wine pairings ... any suggestions for what to bring to 42 Grams? Have friends going next year and thinking of getting them a wine for their meal for a Christmas present. Ideas - aiming for the $50-75 range if possible. Not sure they like champagne or I'd have some good ideas.



    What a thoughtful gesture! Almost every time I have gone to a byob tasting menu, the general recommendations have been along the lines of sparkling wine to start, an unoaked white (such as a white Burgundy), a balanced, not-too-big red (again, Burgundy is a good bet), and a dessert wine to finish (I tend to go Sauternes, which also goes well if there's a foie course amongst the savories, or sometimes Port). About the only seasonal changes I make are perhaps another white (e.g., Riesling) in the summer or a bigger red (e.g., Bordeaux or California Cab) if hearty meats are included in the winter. I've also learned, and certainly it holds at 42 Grams, that many of the courses/portions are quite small, so I tend to choose something I want to sip more than trying to perfectly pair each bite, and the wines I mentioned above are unlikely to overwhelm most foods. If you want to get one bottle in the $50-75 range, and don't know if they like Champagne, I'd suggest a red Burgundy.
  • Post #30 - December 3rd, 2014, 1:17 am
    Post #30 - December 3rd, 2014, 1:17 am Post #30 - December 3rd, 2014, 1:17 am
    An acquaintance had a seat to fill, so I'm going to 42 Grams* tomorrow for my first, hellza expensive degustation menu in Chicago. I haven't done many of these, and I'm still a little wary of the exoskeletal delicacies of the sea, but hell... It's a rare opportunity, so I'm bringing a nice Muscadet and Fleurie for the occasion. Based on the invaluable reports I've read in this thread, it seems like sake would work really well where white wines are recommended, so I guess I'll stash the fancy junmai I've been sitting on forever and call it a science experiment. If anyone here's going Wednesday night, I guess look for the dude with all the bottles, and I'll pour you some.


    * I'm familiar with the conceit behind the name, but all I can hear in the iPod in my mind is a deafening rendition of "Hickory Wind" when I read it.

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more