Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Oct 17, 2012 03:07 PM


Who has been?
Worth the $175/pp price of admission?
Currently holding tickets to Alinea (would be my 4th visit) but debating changing it up a bit.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. To compound your question: Has anyone been to more than one menu and willing to give opinions regarding relative value? The Diamond's (gastronomic) price scared me until there is more data, so we have Deer tix in November. I am excited since I love game and fall, will appreciate it for what it is, and will not consider "what might have been". I am curious, however, if the three gradations succeed as separate entities and are likely to stay in effect without tweaking.

    1. I think you would like the experience based on reading a lot of your reviews; I know you are high on El Ideas and Elizabeth most reminds me of that venue in terms of the chef presenting most of the courses and a highly visible kitchen. The food also bears some resemblance to the type of cuisine at El Ideas in terms of complexity and unique presentations. I have not yet done the Diamond menu, but have done the Deer and Owl menu as well as dined at Chef Regan's underground dinners (One Sister) she held before she opened Elizabeth. Despite the resemblance to El Ideas, Elizabeth is still fairly unique so it would not feel too similar to hit both venues in one trip.

      If you switch Alinea for Elizabeth do make sure you are not expecting an Alinea like experience. The service is very friendly and attentive at Elizabeth, but not as polished as Alinea and Elizabeth is still new so you may encounter a glitch here and there. Totally different ambiance as well; Elizabeth is rustic and much more casual - still a great space but completely different vibe. The food is definitely at a high level, but I would not quite on the same level as Alinea. Still it is a wonderful meal and experience and Chef Regan is really talented and I love that so much of the food she either grows, gathers, hunts or fishes for herself.

      The LTH Forum has some good information on Elizabeth; I posted pictures of the Owl and Deer menus and another poster there did a great photo review of the Diamond menu. I am probably going to be back for the Diamond menu in December.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Gonzo70

        I did see that. I kind of wish the menus did not differ so much. Still weighing pros/cons as I have done Alinea multiple times. I rather wonder if the variance in menus will lead to "plate envy" for tables enjoying different dishes.

        1. re: uhockey

          The advantage of the diversity between the menus is so that guests who love the venue but do not like to repeat the same menu can go three times per quarter if they want rather than have to wait three months for a new menu. Also Chef Regan is so creative I think she enjoys being able to churn out such a vast array of different dishes and might become bored if she was constrained to a single menu with longer and shorter versions. I think she has done a good job with having the shorter menus still have some outstanding dishes - they are not lower quality meals, just less courses. I can see how it may eventually become too much work to have no overlap between the courses, but for the short term I think she is really passionate about having the menus remain unique from one another.

          1. re: Gonzo70

            Yep - I looked at LTH and e-mailed them - decided the Deer looked most like something I'd like. Going to go there the day before EL Ideas, so should be interesting to compare/contrast.


            1. re: uhockey

              Nice; look forward to hearing your impressions!

              I really enjoyed reading the entries on your blog on New York restaurants before my recent trip to New York.

              Hope you have a great time back in Chicago!

              1. re: uhockey

                I'll be posting a detailed report on my experience with the Diamond menu shortly. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Deer menu. With respect to the plate envy, I found that I was so focused on what was going on with the group I was eating with that I didn't even notice what the other tables were being served.

                Short answer with respect to whether the cost is worth it - to me, it was. I will concede that value is rather a personal concept, though. I plan on going back in the spring when I return to Chicago, perhaps to try another menu.

                1. re: gourmandish

                  i did the diamond menu about a week ago and was thrilled with the overall experience. all 22 courses weren't over the top delicious, but most were, and the ones that weren't at least brought something unique to the table. there is a detailed report with pics on my blog.


                  1. re: streaksinthesky

                    Thanks for your review, and I really enjoyed seeing your blog. One question, as yours is the second time I've seen reference to ordering a Champagne cocktail prior to dinner at Elizabeth: Do they really charge extra for this rather than include it as part of the pairings? I have come to expect pairings to include all the alcohol the staff thinks I might want to drink, and most tasting menus I've experienced do start with sparkling, either by the glass or as a cocktail. I realize that in the overall scheme an extra $20-30 might not be missed, so it's more about opening the meal and setting the tone for the evening. Thank you.

                    1. re: streaksinthesky

                      Nicely done, both the post and the blog. I used you as a resource when traveling west back in July (specifically for St. Louis.) Heading to Chicago in 10 days and really looking forward to Elizabeth - plus I already had Glazed and Infused on the menu, so that's nice too. :-)


                      1. re: uhockey

                        the champagne cocktail was an additional charge of $19 on top of the wine paring which was $105. i think that including it with the pairings and charging maybe $120 would probably be more palatable to most diners.

                        uhockey, did you make it to any places in st. louis? i am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on elizabeth as you are obviously a much more experienced diner than i. btw, i will be in the bay area for the first time next week, and your site was of great help to me, even though i am going against your recommendation and booked meadowood as one of my three dinners.

                        1. re: streaksinthesky

                          Went to Half & Half, World’s Fair Donuts, Ted Drewes, Jilly’s Cupcakes, Park Ave Coffee, Niche, and Sidney Street Café.

                          I gave up a seat at Alinea (would have been my 4th time) for Elizabeth, so I hope it wows.

                          I'm sure Meadowood can but out a great meal - but I'm not willing to risk that kind of money again to find out.


                          1. re: streaksinthesky

                            Thank you for the information. Perhaps they will heed the suggestion and add a champagne cocktail to the pairings, even if it means increasing the price of the pairing. Glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to the Deer menu next weekend.