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May 13, 2008 09:35 AM

Charlie Trotter's

I plan to be in Chicago for Independence Day weekend later on in the summer. And I am interested to check out Charlie Trotter's (I heard reservations are months in advance - is that true?) I must admit I'm a little intimidated because his website makes no mention of the tasting menu prices or how the whole dining experience works.

Can anyone tell me how much his Grand Menu is? As well as the wine accompaniment? Is it appropriate to discuss price point with the server at his restaurant before the meal or should I just show up with a gym bag full of cash?

Very confused. Please help.

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  1. It's been a loooong time since I've been (a Democrat was President) so who knows how much the prices have changed; back then I recall the Grand maybe being around $130 and I don't have a good grasp on what the upcharge was for the wine pairings. Honestly just call and ask - they are extremely helpful and want you to enjoy your experience, not be intimidated by it. Months in advance for a res if it's a Friday/Saturday or there's something big in town (like the restaurant convention) but you will find more flexibility for weeknights.

    1. We went with a party of four a few years ago and sat at the kitchen table. The bill came to around $1200 including wine pairings for three of us.

      4 Replies
        1. re: blackbookali

          Is $400 per person typical for fine dining in Chicago? That's more expensive that I had expected.

          1. re: josamania

            $400 per person is the high end. We've done it, but rarely.

            Tru Trotter's kitchen table; Alinea's Tour tasting menu; Tru's Market Collection and maybe a few others -- all with wine pairings.

            But don't let that throw you. You can easily have an extraordinary meal in Chicago for a lot less than that.

          2. re: blackbookali

            $300 per person for four tasting menus and three wine pairings. This was a graduation/birthday present for me, so I never actually saw the check. We were offered the kitchen table since we were the first party to arrive after the original group who had reserved it cancelled at the last minute, I'm not sure whether they charged us the full price for the 18 course kitchen table menu, or if they charged us the lower price for the 8 course grand tasting menu which we had originally made reservations for.

        2. You can make reservation online at Open Table.

          1. Charlie Trotter's is one of the very best restaurants in Chicago, along with Alinea, Everest, tru, and Avenues. Pricing at all of these depends on both food and alcohol; each offers a choice of tasting menus and I believe Everest also offers a la carte selections. Everest can be slightly less expensive, typically $175-250 per person including moderate alcohol, tax, and tip, and can be even less than that if you go for the pre-theater special (3 courses for $50 at 5:00/5:30 every night they're open except Fridays). At the other four, you can typically expect to spend $250-325 per person. Of course, you can spend significantly more, too, depending mostly on wine/alcohol (and you can spend less than this range if you order the least food options and no alcohol).

            Website links:
            Charlie Trotter's - Charlie Trotter -
            Alinea - Grant Achatz -
            Everest - Jean Joho -
            Tru - Rick Tramonto -
            Avenues - Curtis Duffy -

            1. As of mid-January 2008, I believe the Grand Tasting Menu was $155 pp and the Vegetable (note - not vegetarian or vegan, since they use some stocks) was $130. Wine pairing was $125pp and I think $150 for the premium flight.

              Having reviewed the menu, my wife and I opted for an interesting half-bottle of white for the seafood courses for around $80 (first 3 of 9). We then went with a special Burgundy (about $430) for the next courses. The pairings sounded interesting, but we really wanted to indulge and try something special.

              And special it was. It was my birthday, so they prepared for us a special menu to take home. The waitstaff was spectacular and the personal service was wonderful. Since we chose by-the-bottle rather than the pairings, the waiter worked with the kitchen to adjust some flavors to maximize the subtlety and effect of the wines we chose. Moreover, our waiter ensured that our glasses were perfectly topped off, such that I literally washed down the last bite of the last seafood course with the last sip of the white wine.

              We had a wonderful meal - creative but not overly fussy or pretentious - he lets the ingredients do the talking. Great tour afterwards too (make sure to ask for it).