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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


L2O restaurant, Chicago
Located in the ornate, regal and conservative Belden Stratford on Lincoln Park West is an oasis of modernity, simplicity and sophistication. Chef Laurent Gras' restaurant L2O is a must-stop for anyone who loves food (especially seafood) and who appreciates culinary innovation. Everything is streamlined yet elaborate, take for example the concocting of my strawberry-basil caipirinha-a cart was wheeled out, on it a silver tray with three beautiful glass beakers, a tall, slender mixing vassel, small silver orbs holding fresh strawberries and basil leaves mixed together with friendly efficiency by our attentive but never over-bearing host. Our server, Keira, went out of her way to be helpful even handwriting a descriptive menu (along with a copy of the full menu, which is written using the most sparing of language), gave a detailed description of the dessert menu and answered all of our questions with friendly professionalism. Chef Gras sources many of his ingredients from Japan, so, although he tries mostly to use seasonal ingredients he is, obviously, not a locavore. It doesn't matter, I would dine here again in a heartbeat.
What we ate:
(spring seasonal tasting menu 12 courses +2 amuse bouche and 2 sweet treats $165/person)
- medai (japanese butterfish), ume, sudachi, fried garlic (np)
continued below...

- tuna tartar, cucmber ball, dehydrated corn, salsa verde in a gelatinous corn shell
- silken tofu, ginger, white miso sauce (np)

- fluke wrapped in cucumber, green dressing, tapioca, daikon & carrot roll
- peeky-toe crab, foie gras emulsion (np)
- halibut, english peas, ramps, arugula dumping (with sundried tomato), fiddleheads in bacon butter
- salted cod, whipped fingerling potato, smoked ribbon and caviar
- shabu-shabu: hiramasa (australian-caught hamachi), mushroom, shiso, konbu boullion, seasme, fresh-grated wasabi with miso-soy sauce (the leftover bouillon from this dish is then served with noodles in the 4 course tasting menu)
- king salmon, baked in clay, dusted with cinnamon and North African spices, grits, lemon gelé dusted with dehydrated meyer lemon crumbs, caramelized date-injected daikon
- beef short rib baked and then seared, grilled ramps, spring onion, pinot blanc vinaigrette, ginger-beef consommé
- chocolate ganache, soysalt, olive oil (np-and also the 3rd dessert we had on this trip that featured olive oil)
- Raspberries with raspberry gelé pellets, yuzu, 14K gold leaf, mascarpone, crispy white chocolate tulle

- whipped kafir sorbet with pineapple and coconut (LN2 treatment)
- Grand Marnier souffle w orange marmalade & peanut butter souffle (np)
- extras: passionfruit marshmallow and strawberry & cream macaron


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