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May 21, 2007 11:41 PM

Charlie Trotter's Review with Pictures

Just got back from my Chicago trip and this was one of the three places I had to try. Charlie Trotter's is the name most synonymous with fine dining in Chicago and the restaurant earns every bit of this honor

My girlfriend and I had a 5:30 reservation which was a touch early, but we came to Chicago on a whim so we were happy to get anything.

The wait staff is polished and professional, well-heeled with easy smiles. I think around 5 different people worked together to bring food, clear plates, providing an extra pour of a favored wine and generally provide a seamless dining experience. They staff is knowledgeable as well, answering questions about the food, wine, and dining/visiting the Chicago area in general.

The decor of the restaurant was a touch simple to me. It did give a very homey feel along with a refined and older air. My girlfriend and I were definitely the youngest people in the dining room around us. Despite it all, I did not feel self-conscious.

The food here is excellent. We both had the Grand Menu, although we contemplated the Kitchen Table Menu. Having had a molecular gastronomy experience the night before, Trotters might seem a touch blase, but each dish that was presented to us tasted wonderful. The ingredients might not have included flavored air or liquid nitrogen, but Chef Trotter has a knack for pairing ingredients that work well together.

I mentioned to our server that I lamented not getting the Kitchen Table Menu and he was kind enough to have the kitchen create a special extra dish for us, Angus Beef.

The menu changes every night so it is difficult to predict how a return visit would be, but I am willing to bet no matter what day you go, you will leave with an unforgettable memory.

Would love to go back and get the kitchen table menu next time.

Full review with pictures at

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  1. My wife and I dined at Charlie Trotter's last Thursday, the 17th. I was an enjoyable and memorable experience, except for the couple next to us that fought the entire time we were there. On Friday, we dined at TRU, a very enjoyable dining experience better than CT. Saturday, we ate at Alinea, we found this to be the best of the 3 even giving the French Laundry a run for it's money.

    2 Replies
    1. re: marcsilva

      You sound like quite the foodie.

      My girlfriend and I went to Alinea the night before we went to CT, if we had another night we would have done TRU or Moto. Alinea was defintely an interesting experience, but there were some courses that we didnt enjoy, its to be expected with 25 courses. We preferred CT because we enjoyed each dish no matter how simply it was prepared. I thought CT gave French Laundry a run for its money, both use the sous vide cooking style which I really enjoy.

      You can check out my Alinea, and FL reviews at

      1. re: tangbro1

        I ate at French Laundry a few weeks after Alinea. I preferred Alinea. French Laundry was all-around excellent, undeniably; but I don't remember much about what I ate. Very good waygu beef dish; great the half-bottle wine selctions . . . that's it. Maybe memorability is not a fair criterion, because Alinea is more gimmicky (in a good way), but I think that counts for something. I had fun at Alinea. That's not a term I'd use to describe my experience at French Laundry.