More Birthday Dinner: Graham Elliot / by Alice Zhao

For day 2 of Alice's week long birthday celebration, we head over to Graham Elliot. Graham Elliot was the former executive chef of Avenues, at Pennisula Hotel in downtown Chicago. After leaving Avenues, he opened Graham Elliot, a casual fine dining restaurant. (oxymoron?!?!) We heard some good reviews, so we decided to give it a try. I apologize for the photos. The lighting in the restaurant was very dim and yellow.
Graham Elliot Restaurant

Daily popcorn offering with garlic and chives. The popcorn came to our table cold but still very tasty.

The steak tartare was a little bland, but it came with a strong balsamic reduction; This was the best foie I've ever had. It was so smooth and rich that it melted in your mouth. It went really well with the sweetness of the coulee. I would go back for this dish alone.
Perfectly seared scallops with shredded ham hock on top; Kung pao sweetbread.
This would be our second serving of sweetbread 2 days in a row. This was tasty, but we felt that the fried breading and sauce covered up the taste and the texture of the sweetbread.
Main Courses: Skate and Monkfish. Overall they were good dishes. The sweetness of the fruit and sauce was a good balance to the skate dish. One thing however was that both of the fish were over seasoned. It was a little too salty for our taste, otherwise, it was a nice dish.
Deconstructed Strawberry Shortcake and Floral Sorbet. We did not find anything special about the strawberry shortcake, but the floral sorbet was supremely excellent! It was served on top of an ice disk with a candied flower. Our waitress did not explain to us which one was which, but from my taste, the rose was a little overpowering. However, it was such a light and refreshing way to end the meal.

We asked for a kitchen tour and again Alice clammed up while I chatted away with the kitchen staff about Graham Elliott's Top Chef Master's taping.

Gotta love an organized kitchen.

The cold and hot line.
And last but not least, Graham Elliott also signed a menu for a little extra birthday gift for Alice. I thought it was a really nice touch!
Graham Elliott
217 W. Huron
Chicago, IL 60610