Friday, March 23, 2012

Charlie Trotter's

I'm slightly delayed since we went to Trotter's for valentine's day in February. It has always been on my list of places to try in Chicago and when news broke that they were closing shop in August I decided to act quickly. If I could afford more high end fancy dinners that equal the cost of rent I probably would try it more often. I enjoy the entire experience of ultra fine dining because you're there for more than just food, but also service, setting, special occasion, exclusivity, what have you. I enjoy trying the best to see what the elite in their field can produce - similar to attending a World Series or Rose Bowl. Part of the reason for my delay in writing the post is that I was disappointed in our overall Trotter experience. Some aspects were delicious and fantastic, but you need more than just a good course now and again to make a four hour dining experience remarkable. I can appreciate what the restaurant represents and how it started a revolution and set the standard for fine cuisine and service. The old house setting in the middle of lincoln park is classic and timeless. Menus from the most famous restaurants in the world line hallways and bathrooms, and the tables are well spaced to enjoy an intimate dinner without feeling abandoned in a field. But our disappointment came from the food as well as the service that did not seem to keep pace with other standouts like French Laundry, Alinea or L20. Not that we were in any rush but 45 minutes is a long time to wait to speak with the somelier to order wine. They made up for that with extra cheese courses and a dessert course, and the services or meals was very well orchestrated. However, there was an overall lack of urgency or sophistication that permeated - perhaps a talent loss due to the wind down. Whatever the reason, both Erica and I agreed it did not represent the five star service expected with five star pricing.

The food component of the meal was very good though inconsistent with significant peaks and valleys. The Grand Menu has eight courses including three desserts, as well as an additional dessert course from the vegetarian menu and cheese course. About half the courses were fantastic and beautiful, and the other half interesting but not memorable. The presentation on all of the food was fantastic and each dish had a simple mission without any gimmicks. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but our favorites include the venison loin, steamed skate wing and toffee-glazed banana financier.

Even if I don't think our meal was "worth" the money, I'm glad to have experienced a culinary icon in Chicago and the standard for the country more than 20 years ago. We had a fun and romantic experience with decent service and some memorable dishes. I might not return before the doors close  but I will be sure to follow Charlie into his next kitchen adventure.

 Celery Root Soup with Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Buddha's Hand & Shigoku Oyster

 Steamed Skate Wing Terrine with Grapefruit, Unagi &Kaffir Lime

 Coriander-Dusted Big Eye Tuna with Sunchokes, Serrano Ham & New Zealand Spinach

 Maine Day Boat Lobster with Beet Spaetzle & Horseradish

 Broken Arrow Ranch Venison Loin with Toasted Espresso, Crumbled Oats & Boudin Noir

 Granny Smith Apple & Greek Yogurt Sorbet with Meyer Lemon, Tarragon & Candied Pistachio

 Toffee-Glazed Banana Financier with Candied Hazelnuts, Date Jame & Pineapple

 Bonus round of something. Left side not good, right side good. 

Criollo Cake with Merlot Jelly, Braised Parsnips & Candied Vanilla

Charlie Trotter's on Urbanspoon


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Excellent excellent excellent... what a treat! Not only was the food and drinks are delicious, the customer service was fantastic, which is very similar to catering bristol



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