My last supper of this trip was also the most memorable: this was my 20th Michelin Stars where I’ve dined at in this year alone. L2O was one of the finest dining spots in Chicago that once stood toe to toe with Alinea with 3 Michelin Stars. Although it received 2 Michelins Stars during my visit, it was only one of the two restaurants in the city with that rating. L2O featured some of the most intricate dishes I’ve ever seen in my travels and its tasting menu was eye opening.
L2O (or Lake to Ocean) first came to my attention during an old episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. The chef back then, Laurent Gras, seemed to make artwork out of premium ingredients from the ocean. After Gras’s departure in 2010, the restaurant reverted back to 1 Michelin Star, although it gained another one by the time of my visit. Seeing how I couldn’t score a reservation at Alinea (no one would go with me), L2O was the dining destination I look forward to the most in this trip. To commemorate this event, of course I have to arrive in style…
Note: This post will mostly contain pictures.
Crab Chip, Crab Cream, Corn Custard, Condrieu, Chive
Foie Gras, Strawberry, Brioche, Lillet – Foie gras is always welcomed in my books and here I loved that balance of the heavy foie and the light, dehydrated strawberry with the brioche to cut down any signs of richness.
Percebes, Grapefruit, Tarragon – I was told this was somewhat of a delicacy in Spain. They were hand picked by divers in the stormy seas just off the coast of Portugal. They tasted like mussels and the shells cracked easily when bitten on which left an uncomfortable texture in my mouth. Sorry Spaniard divers…
Striped Tortellini, Razor Clam, Zucchini, Garlic – Another creative looking dish which hit that umami spot.
Stuffed Quail, Celery Root, Smoked Cherry, 23-Flavor Gastrique – This was the highlight of the night. It was a de-boned quail stuffed with foie gras. The meat itself was very tender and was accentuated by the foie. The sweetness from the gastrique balanced out the meat well. Insanely good.
It was only an hour into my tasting menu that made me realize everything about this place screamed class and elegance…they were definitely not messing around. Front of house staff were noticeably knowledgeable and provided 5-star service. Dishes looked like they came from a modern art museum and often accompanied by sophisticated and impactful flavors. They even have a live aquarium in the washroom:
At the end of my meal, I was given a tour of the kitchen and a sent off by some of the staff members. What a grand finale to end my trip off.