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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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03.31.08

Walking Down the Avenues One Last Time

Bites: News and Miscellany


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On the occasion of Chef Graham Elliot Bowles last night cooking at Avenues (before he leaves to open his own spot, Restaurant Graham Elliot), one of our readers, Jeannie Boutelle dropped in a sent us the following report:

I was fortunate enough to have dinner last night on Chef Bowles last night at Avenues. We sat at the chef’s bar where we could watch the chefs cook and plate each dish. I ended the evening feeling like a cooking slacker. We sat in front of Chef Jim’s fish station and he kept multiple dishes and a million little copper pots going on the stove all the while keeping a conversation going with us. Seeing all the sauces and foam he was working with, I could imagine the hours of prep time involved before he put together the dishes in what seemed like 30 seconds. It definitely motivated me to maybe once in awhile do a little thing like clarify butter.

The meal was awesome. I kind of get where Chef Bowles is going: he seems to take a lot of inspiration from childhood and comfort food classics, deconstructs them and then puts them back together.

My favorites last night were a risotto with apple, cheddar and bacon served in a little copper pot that was creamy and decadent, quail with roquefort, budweiser and celery, his take on buffalo chicken wings, a piece of hamachi that was served so artfully with cucumber in a bowl that I thought the design was part of the ceramic of the bowl and not the food, and a lobster that was light and citrusy rather than slathered with butter. It had the most amazing caramel/salt on one side. Finally there was a sturgeon with cabbage, sauerkraut and rutabaga that was a perfect balance of sour, salty and sweet. I liked just about everything.

I think when he opens his restaurant Graham Elliot in River North this May it will take his food in a new direction. The Avenues dining room is beautiful and the service at the Peninsula impeccable but I think a place of his own will be better suited to the direction of his food, especially with music that will include some of his own creations and that of local Chicago musicians.

I feel very lucky that I was able to partake in such an amazing meal and I was happy that I was still able to get up and run the Shamrock Shuffle this morning. But I am excited to try Chef Bowles new place and I now realize no matter whether it’s the simple things like a fresh taco at Tacqueria Leon to the high end of Chef Bowles up and coming creations at Graham Elliot, Chicago is a pretty cool food city.

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