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Oct 6, 2008 08:19 AM

Graham Elliot

After delaying a visit, I finally checked out Graham Elliot this weekend...and was pretty let down.

Overall, the food was forgettable, the place mediocre and the final tab higher than I thought at $185 with tax and tip for two.

At our table we had a couple of great cocktails, the foi gras rice krispie appetizer, the buffalo chicken appetizer, the pork belly, halibut, molton carrot cake and pumpkin creme brulee.

The stand out was the pork belly with root beer sauce on it that was really wonderful. The buffalo chicken was one chicken piece that tasted like one you would get a high end bar. The foi appetizer was unique but tasted like a dessert with almost no foie gras flavor when all elements were combined. halibut was boring.

I was SO excited about seeing this place open up and now don't think I will even head back. I guess they all can't be winners.

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  1. Wow. We have reservations there for a special occasion later this month. I'm wondering if we should cancel them and go someplace else like Blackbird.

    Thoughts? Ferris? Anyone?

    2 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      I hate to say it but I had a similar experience. I went in June shortly after the restaurant opened and was really excited to try GE based on the menu and hype. Not only were we seated an hour and half after our reservation time (I had made the reservation weeks in advance and even called the day before to confirm) but then our waiter was condescending and inattentive as well.

      When we ordered a bottle of wine and then realized that we had accidentally indicated the wrong bottle (wanted a red burgundy and ended up with a white) we asked if we could order a different wine instead. he had already opened the bottle and refused to take it back and bring us another bottle. Yes, the mistake was ours, but most restaurants with good service would have allowed us to choose another bottle.

      The food was OK, but did not live up to expectations and was overshadowed by the rude service. I had the skate as my entree and found it to be flavorless. We had the gnocchi appetizer which was decent. Someone in my party had a lamb chop dish that they enjoyed. I can't even remember what the dessert was because it was so run of the mill.

      I would like to think that they have worked out the service kinks of being a new restaurant over the summer, but I will not be heading back to find out ...

      1. re: chicgail

        We decided to go there to find out for ourselves. Here's the report.

        We arrived early and sat at the bar for a drink. The restaurant was definately buzzing.

        Mr. CG had a nice martini. I ordered something called Tainted Love 0r something like that. It was very red, very sweet, on the rocks and not worth drinking. I should have asked about it.

        The hostess came to us at EXACTLY our reservation time and took us to our table.

        The food was fascinating: hgh concept de-constructed comfort food, for the most part exceptionally was prepared.

        We shared a variety (4) oysters, one with champagne foam, one with mignonette gelee, one with a radish/cucumber salad and one with a cocktail foam (looked more like a light sauce). Good, but not woth raving about.

        We also shared sweetbreads skewered on rosemary, which was probably the most successful dish. Perfectly prepared on top of finely chopped turnips, apples and pumpernickel croutons.

        Our main dishes were the pork belly so many have said good things about and the lamb ruben-- deconstructed ruben. with lamb instead of pastrami. The lamb was a excellent and really rather fun with rutabaga sauerkraut, a thin slice of pumpernickel (yes, a theme) and a swatch of 1000 island dressing on the plate. The pork belly was, in my opinion, dry, but I really liked the turnips and kale on which it was bedded. When I told the waiter, he offered to take it back and replace it with anything else,which I declined.

        For dessert we had the molten carrot cake, which again, was a deconstructed delight. The carrot cake was filled with cream cheese frosting and rum soaked raisins and raw carrot strips decorated the plate.

        Our waiter was friendly but not unctuous, knowledgeable, and was always there when we needed him and not there when we didn't. He suggested wines that were perfect for our meals.

        I don't think GE is for everyone and you need to adjust your expectations when you go. This is nothing ordinary, nor is it Alinea. The food is experimental and will not be everyone's cup of tea. I do understand why the reports are a bit mixed. Glad we tried it.

      2. Recently read that they are changing up the menu and format of the restaurant...

        1 Reply
        1. I ate there last night, actually, and was very underwhelmed. The foie parfait with rice krispie treat was not good at all, and didn't taste like foie. The buffalo chicken had a unique beer foam, but you could hardly taste it, and the chicken itself tasted no different from what you can get at any wing place. The waitress encouraged use to get small plates and share, but these plates were not really enough for more than one person to try.

          The steak was good, but I wouldn't call it memorable, and again, small portion size. The pork belly was great, and the root beer bbq sauce was surprisingly not super sweet but more like black licorice, which was interesting. The scallops on the their were delicious, but setting them on top of sweetened oatmeal (which I eat every day for breakfast) sort of ruined it for me.

          Desserts were a little better, and I liked the pumpkin brulee best. The cream cheese filling in the molten carrot cake was great, but the cake itself didn't really taste like a carrot cake. The reconstructed Snickers bar was really rich and heavy on the chocolate, which overwhelmed the other flavors for me. The apple fritters were good, but again, nothing special.

          I was really confused, because the website for the restaurant describes it as "bistronomic", making fine cuisine accessible in a comfortable atmosphere. The food was overpriced for the taste and portion size, and the atmosphere felt like your typical, trendy new restaurant, not a place I would feel comfortable in. It really looked like they decorated the place with Ikea stuff.

          I was sad, because I really wanted to like this place and ended up leaving a bit hungry and confused.

          2 Replies
          1. re: foodrocks

            your experience sounds just like mine!

            1. re: Chargenda

              I've eaten there three or four times and have enjoyed many more dishes than not (but didn't like some). Clearly they are going thru some growing pains. Let's all hope GE makes it work. I think it has the potential to be both a great and important restaurant for Chicago.