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Charlie Trotter's Closing


Charlie Trotter's
816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. Charlie Trotter has been an iconic leader in the Chicago food scene for many years. He was one of the people responsible for making Chicago a food destination city. I am one of those people who has been uninspired by his work in recent years. I admire his choice to move on and to grow and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

    1. At a time like this, we should only be applauding Trotter for all he has done for Chicago and the food world over the years. As noted in the Sun-Times article, he was instrumental in so many ways. He was the first local (as well as the first American) to open a truly high-end restaurant here, at a time when that food scene had been dominated by Europeans such as Banchet, Trboyevic, Joho, and Szathmary, thus paving the way for Achatz and others to be taken seriously. He elevated all aspects of the dining experience (that article in the NYTimes showed admiration for what he has done with vegetables). And many of those who worked for him have gone on to establish their own reputations, both here and elsewhere. Bravo, for him and for all that he has done for us!

      9 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        On the other hand, Trotter refused to allow patrons the use of additional salt, even if they asked for it. That's not customer service....

        He did a lot for Chicago food, to be sure, but that's a pettiness that takes him down in my mind. But perhaps he changed that policy in later years.

        1. re: grimaldi

          It wasn't I that asked for the salt. It was my husband's late wife. I'm not sure whether you're saying it is silly or superfluous to ask for salt or if it's petty to deny the request.

          1. re: lemons

            I think the idea is that a dish was created to deliver a specific flavor; adding salt changes that flavor and thereby the intent of the "creator." So it may taste like what the customer wants it to taste like, but apparently that's less important than what the chef wants you to taste. Sort of a love-it-or-leave it mentality, like those places that refuse to serve ketchup with french fries or hotdogs. I've heard this attitude described as, "You wouldn't just break out your paints and add color to a Mona Lisa or a Raphael?" which I find silly but some subscribe to.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              That would be fine if we all perceived tastes identically, but there's lots of variations in individual palates.

            2. re: lemons

              How long ago did that dinner take place?

              1. re: lemons

                bwahahahaha. on a lighter note, i believe trotter is said to be the inspiration for the following "salt" clip from the bbc comedy CHEF!

                "you must try to look upon him more as an artist, than a rude, arrogant, insufferable, overbearing megalomaniac."

                ***do not play the following clip at work, or while drinking any beverages. or before thoroughly emptying your bladder, for that matter. you have been warned.


                1. re: soupkitten

                  Thank you .. that was the perfect treat after reading arguments about the true meaning of CT closing!

              2. re: lemons

                We went to Chicago specifically to go to Charlie Trotter's for my 50th. The meal was beyond disappointing. The choices on the menu that night were all fish which I don't care for. They did make something for me - I dont even remember what. Don't remember what my husband had either. The best part of the meal was an olive oil tasting they offered us because my husband is allergic to butter.

              3. re: nsxtasy

                My only trip to CT was in 2000 (or so). I was a female dining alone, and I couldn't have been treated better. My waiter brought me 3 books to amuse myself with between courses, and gave me a tour of the kitchen afterwards and obtained a chef-signed menu for me. It was a great meal and that menu still has wall-space in my kitchen.

                Even though I've been peeved w/ Mr. T over the whole foie thing, thus avoiding his restaurant on recent trips, I agree w/ nsx, he was deservedly a big deal and deserves fond well wishes.

              4. Great. Where the heck am i supposed to go to get a meal that's prepared with 489 ingredients now?

                1. Probably a good idea on his part. My last meal there was very mediocre. He's also threatened this before, as mentioned in the article. With so many options in Chicago I wouldn't be going back any time soon anyway.

                  He did a lot for the food scene in Chicago that is for sure. Still, his personality seemed to be an obstacle at times, it would seem.

                  1. The following local chefs have previously worked at Trotter's during their career:

                    Grant Achatz: Alinea, Next
                    Homaro Cantu: Moto, Ing
                    Michael Carlson: Schwa
                    John Des Rosiers: Inovasi
                    Curtis Duffy: Ex-Avenues, Grace (opening summer)
                    Graham Elliot: Graham Elliot, Grahamwich
                    Bill Kim: Urban Belly, Bellyshack
                    Matthias Merges: Yusho
                    Mindy Segal: Hot Chocolate
                    Michael Taus: Zealous
                    Giuseppe Tentori: Boka, GT Fish & Oyster

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      He also had a number of really good Sommeliers, too. Larry Stone, Joe Spellman and Belinda Chang immediately come to mind.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        Wow, impressive list! Trotter definitely has massively influenced the Chicago fine dining scene.

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          >> The following local chefs have previously worked at Trotter's during their career:

                          Grant Achatz: Alinea, Next <<

                          Very misleading to imply that Trotter had much influence over Achatz. Grant only worked there a short time and thought that Trotter was a dictatorial ass. The experience was so negative and soul-sucking that Grant actually considered giving up working as a chef. Trotter told him that since he didn't work there long that he would deny that Achatz ever worked there and to not bother asking for a reference, ever.

                          Fortunately Grant had second thoughts about quitting cooking and bombarded Thomas Keller with daily letters asking to be taken on at The French Laundry, and the rest is history. I'm sure it was very gratifying to Grant to open Alinea a short distance from CT's and become so well-known.

                        2. Chef Trotters influence on the culinary world is tremendous . Any “ worlds best list “ is always debatable but any seasoned foodie would rank Charlie Trotters on his short list . Chef Trotters understanding of complex layering of flavors and the beautiful synchronicity of his multi course feasts are spectacular . It is an Amazing dining experience

                          1. I never ate at his restaurant, but when I watched his TV show several years ago I found Charlie Trotter to be pretentious and annoying.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: John E.

                              I find him to be pretentious and annoying, too. In its time, CTs was one of the best in the country, IMHO. However, if fell off in its later years, CT's personality rubbed people wrong, and it faced a lot of quality competition in Chicago. My last visit was o.k/good but far from great. But he did set the bar pretty high for Chicago's food scene at one point.

                            2. I went there in 2002. I brought several bottles of 2002 Bordeaux to drink with my meal and then after we all ate and were taking a tour of the cellar I let it slip that the wine was my birth year wine and they weren't very impressed because I was only twenty. Before that, they made me a 10+ course pescetarian dinner that was one of the best meals of my life however. It cost us over $700 each including wine but in hindsight it was worth it. A great experience. Ah, the good old days.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: porky pine

                                >> I went there in 2002. I brought several bottles of 2002 Bordeaux to drink with my meal and then after we all ate and were taking a tour of the cellar I let it slip that the wine was my birth year wine and they weren't very impressed because I was only twenty.

                                Did you mean a 1982 Bordeaux?

                                1. re: porky pine

                                  When I was 20 the only things I ever spent $700 on was my car and college tuition. My roommate and I occasionally split a $5 pizza.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    I lived off a combiation of Lipton's Pamesean Rice and Sauce and Chicken Ramen Noodles. You mix those two together and you get a carbo load that could get you through a marathon.....and it didn't taste half bad either.

                                    Trotter's will be missed. Like a great athlete, it may have lost a step with age. But in it's prime, it brought the town to a whole new level in terms of cuisine. Just like we only remember MJ during his days with the Bulls and not the Wizards, we should strive to do the same with Charlie Trotters.

                                2. Very sorry to hear that Charlie Trotter is closing his restaurant. I had been to his Chicago restaurant only once in 2003 and his Bar Charlie in Las Vegas in 2009. Both dinners were excellent. I do recall my dinner in 2003 when my sister and I were reviewing the menus, and decided that we liked the offerings of the vegetable menu better. Our waitperson asked whether we were vegetarians, and we said that while we were not, we preferred the vegetable menu. Our waitperson asked if it would be okay if Chef added proteins to the dishes, and we were delighted with our specially created menus. After dinner we were given a tour of the kitchen.