Chicago

L2O, Chicago

Update: As of 19 November 2010, L2O, along with Alinea in Chicago, have been awarded 3 Michelin Stars

 

I recently visited Chicago(Note: I do not blog in chronological order) which (I assumed would) give me an opportunity to try Alinea, unfortunately, it was closed on all the days that I was there. So began the look for an alternative, and I finally decided on L2O. Reservations were simple enough, made on opentable, no problems whatsoever, probably because this was on Christmas eve at 6pm. Nonetheless

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Upon entering L2O, which can be extremely hard to find if you don’t know what you are looking for, we were greeted by 2 members of staff wearing Japanese Komonos, which really confused me because it wasent a Japanese restaurant and everyone else was in a suit. Possible geisha services for ballers?

The menu: You are  given a choice of either a 12-course tasting menu($165) or a 4-course prix fixe menu ($110) where you choose 3 dishes from the following categories: Raw, Warm, and Main. Both my mum and I chose the prix fixe

Amuse 1: Gruyère cheese puffs

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Cheese puffs were surprisingly light, crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. Nice

Amuse 2: Tuna

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This was actually a combination of tuna, orange gelée, tomato, olive oil foam. I think it was supposed to be a ceviche-like appitizer. It wasen’t particularly good, but it was pretty refreshing. And god damn, only the french can make jelly sound so pompous.

Bread Service

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Bread was outrageously good. Favourites by far were the Bacon Mustard Seed Bread, which had a nice chunky cube of bacon in the center of a dome shaped piece of bread, and the Anchovy-Basil Broiche. Bread was served with a housemade butter in a gratuitously-futuristic container.

Raw Set A: Shimaji, Red Miso, Radish, Soy Salt

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This was my raw course. Fish was very fresh, had a nice bite to it. Red Miso had a subtle flavor to it, too subtle for my liking. I wish they had given more of it. It was okay

Raw Set B: Peekytoe Crab, Avocado, Kaffir Lime, Lemon Oil

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This was my Mums dish. The peekytoe crab meat is all in the center of the dish, the avocado was cut into a dome to cover it completely, and the Kaffir lime was made into a gelée surrounding the avocado dome. Crab was nice and sweet, and crab+avocado always makes a good combo, lime gelée was not too biting. Good

Warm Set A: Foie Gras, Port, Cocoa Nibs, Pear, Celery

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This was mine. I can’t remember all the components of the dish. But the odd looking spaceships on the left are sliced pears with topped with a jelly. The odd looking statues on the right are celery cubes fried in a wantan skin. Foie gras was topped using a crisp dark chocolate wafer, which I had problem with. When eaten separately they both tasted very good, but the crunchy-ness of the chocolate wafer overpowered the softness of the foie when eaten together. Otherwise, everything had good flavor, foie was cooked nicely, it was very good.

Warm Set B: Salted cod, Fingerling Potato, Smoked Gelatin, Caviar

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The salted cod was minced finely and placed at the bottom of the serving cup, it was covered with puréed fingerling potatoes, topped with smoked gelatin and caviar. My mum had trouble with this because she found the fish too salty. When I tried it, I didn’t disagree with her. But otherwise the texture of this is amazing. The potatoes were so finely puréed that they were barely viscous on a spoon, and the gelatin strips added a nice bite to the smooth texture. Good dish apart from the slightly overpowering saltyness.

Main Set A: Arctic Char, Champagne, Zucchini, Chanterelle

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The Arctic Char, which to me is quite similar to salmon but has much softer meat, was raw on one side, and cooked on the other. The play of the raw/cooked meat was very interesting, chanterelles were well seasoned. It was okay.

Main Set B: Pork Belly, Truffle, Potato

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I told my mum when she was deciding her main that I heard this dish was good, so she went with it. When my mum saw this she immediately said: Siew Yuk!(Roasted pork) Wow, this was over the top. Kurobuta pork belly roasted perfectly, served with a black truffle sauce, and potatoes done 3 ways. My mum had 2 slices and decided that she couldnt take anymore, I couldn’t let it go to waste. The pork was amazing, meat was tender, fat had that melt in your mouth goodness, skin had a nice cunch but immediately dissolved in with the rest of the fat porky goodness, truffle sauce complimented the pork well. Potatos didnt need to be there, they were way too heavy for the dish and the cylindrical-shaped potato wedges were somewhat undercooked. Great dish apart from that minor drawback. Very Good

Amuse 3: Frozen Marshmellow

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I wasnt paying attention to the server as he was explaining the dish, but I did get the words “frozen marshmellow”, which made me somewhat intrigued, but worried that it would be too sweet because i was fairly stuffed at this point. It was actually tart, and according to the L2O blog, Im going to assume its  ginger-lemon combination, quite refreshing. And whats it like to eat frozen marshmellow? It has a texture I cant quite describe, not as sticky or gummy as you would imagine, kind of like a heavier version of ice cream.

Dessert Set A: Chocolate and Raspberry done 16 ways

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After we were done with the mains, the server came to our table and started rattling off a long list of dessert choices, but the moment he mentioned this, I knew I was sold. In the center is a Raspberry sorbet, chocolate and rasbperry sauce around it. To the side, an actual raspberry(omg), a raspberry meringue, and “chocolate air”, topped with  cotton candy and raspberry powder. Theres not much to say about this, it was pretty heavy, often abit too sweet, but yummy nonetheless. Good

Dessert set B: Soufflé with praline

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I only had a small bite of this but from what I could tell it was pretty good. Praline wasen’t too sweet.

Amuse 4: Passionfruit Marshmellow

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That treehouse-looking base is made from sugar, notsupposed to be consumed unless you enjoy being diabetic. I don’t like the gummy consistency of marshmallows, so I like my marshmallows roasted. Passionfruit flavor was definitely shone through.

Amuse 5: (What once was) Chocolate Ganache

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For some reason I completely forgot to take a photo of this. Well, it was good. You could taste the quality of the chocolate, had a nice bittersweet-ness that lingered on the tongue. Overall, it was a good meal, food was very satisfying, some dishes were confusing and didn’t quite fit in the the overall meal, but others were great. Service was very good, our server was very friendly and never had a problem answering any of our questions. My mum offered to show him around Singapore since he said that he has always wanted to visit. However, if I ever go back to Chicago(which I probably wont), I’m heading over to Alinea.

After the meal the server offered to take us on a tour of the kitchen, we jumped at the chance.

Prep Room

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Kitchen: Sweet foods on the left, Savory on the right

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Spice Rack Cabinet, Each container meticulously labeled. Interesting note: My server, seen in this photo, actually ended up at 2am Dessert bar in Singapore! Talk about a small world.

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