Ensalada Tailandesa
Grant Achatz
Country: United States
City: 60614 Chicago,Illinois
Address: 1723, North Halsted
(+1) 3128670110
Closed: Mondays, Tuesdays and some holidays. Open only for dinner
Price: 200/350$ €
Tasting menu:: 125/220$ €

The best chef in America and one of the finest on the Culinary Planet. A man who lives with a rare passion for his work, to the point of it being his reason to live. Without this sort of obsession you can’t spend 17 hours a day thinking about your work and still have a smile on your face. His extravagance unfurls in a display of unique methods: 22 excellent waiters for 60 clients, 24 different plates as well as other devices to complement the 24 dishes which compose the large tasting menu, the staging of the dining room, the ambience… and the iron-clad discipline that is felt in the kitchen. Grant Achatz is one of those clairvoyant, stubborn people who believe blindly in what they do, fully convinced that where “there’s a will, there’s a way”. Nothing stands between him and his goals. He even beat tongue cancer, with all that implies for a chef and his palate, but it seems to have only magnified his exceptional work. At only 33 years old, he has conquered the world through palates, diverse palates that prostrate themselves before a being, better yet a hero, who gives everything he’s got and even more.
His personality is developing. It suffices to mention as a testimony, one among many: the elimination of the tablecloth in the dining room; the plates are set down directly onto the wood. It only makes an appearance at one moment in the four hours of the feast, in which the waiters ask the complicity of the guests who help to lay it out. Next, the chef and an assistant arrive in the room to paint what looks to be a normal looking plate over a “silicone tablecloth” that the guests then share (white and dark chocolate pieces in liquid nitrogen, white brush strokes, maple syrup, tobacco jelly, raspberry marmalade, etc.). This sort of “live and direct” cooking over the silicone tablecloth constitutes a new concept that breaks with all protocols and precedents. This is originality from a creator that transgresses established borders.
The assemblies are, in general, exuberant, with a tendency for an avant-garde baroque style. Taking inspirations from very distinct cultures and time periods, he offers such widely different dishes as the Thai salad with pork tripe, iceberg, cucumber, chili sauce and distilled vegetables in the same sitting as the Saint-Clair squab with onion confit-filled tartlet and potato puree that harks back to Escoffier. The proliferation of elements found in every construction, as well as the trip through time and space, helps to let the guests lose themselves at various moments, not being able to identify what they’re eating. There is no greater significance (though we admit that we are not familiar with all his work and that our palates are human after all) than when the artist reserves his right to creative license.
With so many and such seasonal proposals it serves us better to circumscribe ourselves to a few examples: the baked potato suspended by a pin over a wax pot that the guest removes from its hole, at which point it falls apart over a chilled soup of parmigiano-reggiano and truffle. Memorable. The talent is appreciated even in the more classical flavors: explosive ravioli stuffed with liquid truffle juice. Three spaces bursting with reflection and work: passion fruit jelly with Dijon mustard and dehydrated soy, translucent slices of bacon wrapped around apple and a sweet potato croquette coated with brown sugar and bourbon skewered with a cinnamon stick. Brilliant. And a minimalist exception supported by superb product to reaffirm yet again that Grant Achatz has one ideology and only one, his own: Miesaki filet mignon, potato “croquette” and dehydrated spices. Perfect.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a cuisine you must see and try for yourselves.