Night Out: Graham Elliot

Whenever I'm in the mood for a good dinner out, I turn to PBS for "Check, Please!" a restaurant review show that features three locals recommending their favorite Chicago restaurant, which is then also visited and reviewed by the other two guests. They meet to discuss their meals with host, Alpana Singh. (You might know her from her wine world accolades.) The best episode was when they resurrected an unaired episode of Check Please! featuring then state senator Barack Obama.

Upon the recommendation of Check Please! (and also recently featured in Time Out Chicago) we dined at Graham Elliot last Saturday night. It was inspired by Jason after he watched me puzzle over doing our condo association taxes the other week. (Ugh.)

The chef, Graham Elliot Bowles, has a reputation as a rock and roller (he knows the Kings of Leon and was chef to Lollapalooza) and the dining experience is meant to be a little irreverent. Instead of bread, you're served popcorn tossed in white truffle oil, parmesan, and chives. Yummy, and probably better for my new diet. The restaurant's website is even funny when you click to turn off the music, little headphones go on the carrot at the top of the page.The chef offered Foiellipops, foie gras circles rimmed with pop rocks and served on a stick. I had to try them. We did pause when Jason said, "Foie gras makes me kind of sad." Yeah.My cocktail "Ruby Slippers" was okay, since it had a bitter/bland finish, when I'd hoped for more sweet, fun, and fizzy since it included ginger ale. But we rallied when the Caesar salad came with a brioche twinkie filled with cream cheese. (Not on the diet plan.) As I enjoyed the scallops and Jason the lamb we could name the music in the background: Phoenix, then Queen. Another characteristic of the casual and hip ambiance. I'm not sure if this is why I woke up the next morning with "Pretender" by Madonna in my head.

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