October 1, 2010

L2O Creates Consumable Art

by Sun

All the restaurants I go regularly in Chicago, are good but not fantastic. Almost every time I try a new restaurant, I think the food is okay but easily forgettable. I know I'm being tough on my own city when it comes to food. Also it can be the case of "It's dark under the candle light" or "Grass is always greener on the other side".

That's why I was surprised when I was told by some people that Chicago has been known for having many great restaurants. I'm more than happy to be told that I'm wrong about Chicago restaurants. Here is one restaurant that I can say with confidence that is truly great.

For some years now, I've been getting my birthday treats from my husband to fine restaurants offering tasting menus. There are quite a few in Chicago like Alinea, Tru, Moto, Charlie Trotters, etc... but one that we keep going back to is L2O, which specialize in seafood. The name comes from L for Laurent the chef and 2O from H2O the chemistry of water.



L2O is owned by Rich Melman who is a restaurant tycoon (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise) in Chicago and Laurent Gras, award winning chef originally from France. It is situated in beautiful Lincoln Park, inside the Belden Stratford Hotel. The minute you pull up to the front of the building in your car, they know your name and they are ready to serve you like you own the world. Then again maybe we shouldn't expect anything less when you go to this type of restaurant where they offer the finest food and charge us accordingly?

I do have mixed feelings about the ambience, because while it is quite modern which we love, it is also a bit on the dark side. It's a very clean and simple execution, but I have to wonder if it gives off a cold feeling

We ordered the twelve course from the tasting menu and 4 course from the salad-sashimi, warm, and main menu. Each course was presented with amazing artistry which were all presented on different shapes of plates, much like their own canvas. We hesitated a little with the feelings of disappointment and excitement of the anticipation before we dove into destroy and devour each piece of art work.



Several times throughout the multi-course meal, the savor, texture, and visual sensation made my eyes wide open and nodding my head acknowledging the artistry and it's tasteful accomplishment. Each time a plate came to us, it began with a detailed and lengthy explanation, but half of the ingredients and preparation methods they explained to us I had never even heard of, so I decided to stop asking questions otherwise the 4 hour eating time could have easily extended to 5 hours.

The difference between L2O and some other restaurants we've been to that offer tasting menus is that when you look at each course of the other places, you can tell how the ingredients are put together and placed on a plate. The element of surprise is gone before you even taste it. Often times the presentation is excellent, but the taste isn't so great, so the impact is diminished.
When I go to L2O, I'm pleasantly surprised and mystified by many of the courses and are often wowed by the both presentation and taste. Some of our friends prefer Alinea, but L2O is our choice for this level of restaurant, especially if you are a seafood lover.

After dinner we were given a tour of the kitchen and where encouraged to ask any questions we may have. It is just astonishing how much unseen effort goes on in the back of the house. I salute chef Laurent Gras for his creations and his pursuit of perfection in art and science of food as well as keeping us on edge with delightful anticipations.

4 comments:

  1. OMG! I have to visit you Sun!!!!! The pictures were amazing! I love to try this restaurant.Thanks for the recommendation.

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  2. Enjoyed your post, Sun! Hope to visit you in Chicago and eat at L2O soon.

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  3. I had a great time (& good food!) in Chicago last time I visited. Looking forward to another visit & trying your suggestion!

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  4. Please come and visit me girls! But try coming in June or September for a perfect chicago experience :). I'll be waiting!

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