- rebecca stamy Feb 28, 2000 01:37 PM
I have reservations in March for Charlie Trotters made months ago. But, I am starting to get cold feet about spending $400/couple for dinner. Is it worth it?
I find Trotter's food to be technically perfect, but cold, boring, uninventive. He has a few structures into which he plugs luxury ingredients, and after 8 or so courses I am never left wanting more. If I were spending that kind of money in Chicago, I'd either have 200 hot dogs at Fluky's or possibly a meal and a half at the spectacular restaurant the Liccionis are cooking at, Les Nomades.
You must be planning to eat at the Chef's Table in the kitchen. We did that several years ago, and that was about what it cost, but we noted that you can eat in the restaurant itself for quite a bit less than that. I think Charlie Trotter's food is some of the best I've ever eaten, and I would go back and eat dinner at the restaurant, but I would not pay the premium for the chef's table again. The food was fabulous, but Charlie is no host. He made us feel unwelcome in his kitchen. We felt that if you don't like having guests in your kitchen, you shouldn't offer the chef's table experience. He did come over and talk to us for a few minutes, but he was very stiff. (The staff all addresses him as "Chef, Sir.") We had about nine courses, plus a sampling of every dessert offered that night, and in no way were we disappointed in the food. There were four of us, and two didn't drink any alcohol. Two of us had chef-selected glasses of wine with the meal, about four different glasses as I recall. Our total cost, with tax and tip, was about $865, by far the most we've ever paid for a single meal. In any event, it was a memorable experience.
I find your experience interesting and somewhat telling. I have heard many people rave about the food but not the experience. A friend of mine was at the restaurant and ordered an old Grand Crus Burgundy that was needless to say quite expensive. My friend told the waiter he would like to offer a glass to Charlie Trotter. He soon walked by, took the glass, handed it to a waiter and said, "I don't have time for this, pour it out." I don't know if I could put up with that kind of treatment no matter how good the food.
re: jim benzian
What a story! My single dinner at CT some years ago was exquisite, and highly memorable, and my friend and I had a long, pleasant conversation, over a delicious and not overpriced NW pinot noir, with the talented sommelier. I myself would not expect a chef of such refinement to be personable too, and hobnob with customers! At least CT is still sharing his creations with us. But is seems perverse for him to intentionally set up situations, like the chef's table, that highlight his, let us say, peculiarities.
Don't do it. See other replies. Mainly, Charlie is an utter fool. An ass. And the food is not all that good. Go to Kiki's Bistro instead. The food is outstanding, the room is beautiful and Kiki is a gentleman.
While CTs is definitely a memorable experience I personally feel that it is over priced and has a certain "Stuffyness" in the air - I usually save an experience such as this for my expense report. I recently had an anniversary dinner at the Ritz Carlton Dining Room and spent just over 2 bills and was extremely impressed by the inventiveness of Chef Sarah Stegner and her staff. The service in the dining room was "hands down" the best I have ever experienced. The cheese cart featured some wonderful domestic & imported cheeses, give it a try. This Hotel dining room has truly made an effort to distinguish itself as a player in the main stream restaurant scene of Chicago. Good Luck
Of course everyone has different priorities, but, based on my one meal at CT last year, I would say go elsewhere and have three good meals.
For me, the food, while certainly inventive and at times quite tasty, was much too precious and the whole scene was definitely not "chowhound". As much as I love to taste good food and talk about it endlessly, the CT experience was altogether too serious and earnest.
And the prices are outrageous....If you decide not to go with the matching flights of wine, I believe you are dismissed by the staff. Of course, the wine flights can add another $100 or so to your already stratopheric tab.
Was it worth the experience? Not really...Would I go back? Never.
It just so happens that we are going to Chicago for the weekend....dinner tomorrow night at Topolobampo, breakfast on Sunday at Wishbone, a trip to the Southside for ribs at Lem's, perhaps another dinner at Soul Kitchen or Le Bouchon, some oysters at Bluepoint....I will give a report on Monday.
Any other suggestions welcomed.
I recently went there for my wife's birthday. And because of messages such as the ones above was expecting it to be overpriced, stuffy, and not worth it....
How wrong these people are.
If you are someone who is used to eating at fine restaurants, knows wine and food, and is there to assess the peak of the epicurian world, I think you will enjoy.
The service was unobtrusive, the waiter actually humorous. The somelier was very knowledgable and I enjoyed learning about her studies and preferences in wine. That was followed by a tour of the wine cellars and the kitchen. Everyone was very busy but smiled and made us feel welcome. But it was one of the tiniest kitchens I have ever seen for such a high end restaurant.
The food was among the most harmonious and subtle I have ever tasted. It blew away other "modern" french cuisines I have had... Tru, hailed among the best new restaurants in Chicago and the country is a pale, pale substitute for these dishes. And Tru is more expensive both a la carte and as a degustation.
Yes, if you order expensive champagne, wine, and desert wines this will be expensive... So what? You know that going in. Do it right and don't worry about the money...
The other poster is right that Kiki's bistro is wonderful... But that is apples and oranges. Kiki's is a wonderful bistro in which you eat a wonderful ragu of mushrooms, a great duck, and drink a nice wine. Trotters is what happens when you strive for perfection.