Grace is one of two 3-star Michelin restaurants in Chicago (the other is Alinea). My trip to Chicago was planned early enough for me to try for a reservation. They accept reservations up to 30 days in advance on OpenTable.com. But, on the day the slots became available, I was not able to secure a solo spot. I decided to call, and they had no problem accommodating a Saturday night reservation (at 5:30, but that was fine with me). On the evening of my dinner, I mentioned hat to them and they said that on weekends, they do not release a lot of seats to Opentable because they would like to chat and get to know who would be coming in. That may be, but I also think it is a strategy to prevent reservation services from booking and re-selling seats.
The restaurant is actually a little obscure. I was glad I scoped out its location beforehand, rather than trying to find it while trying to be on time. Inside, it is a bit formal looking and quiet. The kitchen can be seen behind a glass window in one corner of the seating area.
After being seated, I was asked if I wanted Champagne. I declined, but I did ask later whether there was a non-alcoholic beverage pairing. I found out there isn’t a formal one, but would come up with something. I opted for a glass of Ovum Riesling from the Oregon. They also offered the use of a Kindle with reading material for my enjoyment.
I looked over the wine list beyond the by-the-glass offerings. I was puzzled as to why there were no Burgundy wines on the list (there were no Bordeaux wines either). I asked the sommelier why that was the case. He said that with the unique food offerings on the menus, they wanted to offer wines that diners might not run across in the normal course of fine dining. I heard another diner ask a similar question later in the evening.
Diners have a choice of tasting menus. One is called Flora and focuses on use of more seasonal ingredients for a largely vegetarian experience. The other is Fauna, with more traditional protein ingredients. I went with the Fauna menu.
The dining experience started out with some snacks. The first one was razor clams in whipped cauliflower juice and chives. The center bowl contained pickled okra seeds, puffed rice, asparagus tips and daikon radish. The final bowl contained artichoke sorbet with chips and parsley. This was a nice mixture of textures and temperatures to start.
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