12/11/2012 09:58:00 AM

Five Things You Need To Know About Grace, Opening Tonight

Photo by Anthony Tahlier
How do we sum up one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year? An opening that has been documented in video, audio and print over the past months. From blueprints to flatware, few details were left unexamined. The only detail left to discover was when Curtis Duffy’s Grace would open. Well kids, tonight's the night. While the best way to experience is by calling for a coveted reservation (the next available table is sometime in 2013), here are five things you need to know about the newest power player on the food scene.

1. The Chef: Curtis Duffy rides motorcycles. Curtis Duffy is the father to two girls. Curtis Duffy has the words “Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom” tattooed on his forearm. Curtis Duffy is Grace, and Grace is Duffy; the restaurant has become more than walls, planning, ingredients and anticipation over the past year. The restaurant is an embodiment of Duffy’s elegant cooking style as well as his commitment to service and the overall dining experience. No pressure, but this place has a lot of expectations to live up to.

2. The Menu: Fine dining only begins to describe the two eight to 12 course tasting menus (one meat-focused and one vegetable-focused). Expensive is another fitting descriptor – the dining experience alone costs $185 before optional wine pairings. Time spent in the kitchens of Charlie Trotter’s, Alinea and Avenues in The Peninsula Hotel transformed Duffy into a master of elegant cuisine. Dishes such as veal cheek with red wine braised endive, black grape and black mint or cranberry with crispy rye, toasted meringue, pine ice and sage are examples of sourcing the finest ingredients and presenting them in a way that lives up to the restaurant’s name.

3. The Space: The minimalist interior was designed for maximum efficiency for both back of house and front of house teams. Multiple workstations allow for quick prep and transfer of food out of the kitchen. In addition to the 65-seat main dining room, a private dining room seats an additional 12 patrons willing to pay a minimum bill. Both dining rooms have views of the kitchen via glass windows. There is also a lounge for pre- or post-dinner cocktail and wine.

4. The Service: General manager and partner Michael Muser, who also rides motorcycles, works with a rigorously trained front of house team. From the brand of the stemware to the ingredients in each dish, the selection of wine pairings as well as information about the space and chef – the team’s knowledge of Grace is all encompassing. To further their education, a stairway lined with photos of inspirational chefs such as Grant Achatz and Thomas Keller leads to the the staff education center/lounge. It's like boot camp, with better food, and apparently an Xbox.

5. The Details: 652 W. Randolph St.; 312-234-9494

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