Elizabeth

I just declared my 30 by 30 13 days ago and I’ve already managed to cross something on it off the list.

Already?!

I work fast, friends. Get ‘r done!

I completed #16 on my list: Dine at a restaurant with at least one Michelin star.

Before I moved into the grand ole city of Chicago, I had no idea what a Michelin star was or that it had to do with restaurants. Apparently, it’s a big deal to have one of these puppies. And while on a normal day I’m all “Escargot? Does it come with cheese sauce?”, I am totally drinking the KoolAid on this Michelin thing. I mean, after reading about Alinea (the only three-star restaurant), hearing first-hand accounts of Moto and Grace, and having been to places that I found superb and didn’t even rank on the Michelin scale… how could I not?

So on my list it went.

And crossed off my list, it is. That said, I would absolutely love to experience another ranked restaurant.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about Elizabeth.

I have to preface that eating at swanky places isn’t the norm for me. Usually I’m lucky if John and I get up the gumption to light up the Foreman and toss a salad for dinner in lieu of greasy takeout (cheese sauce!!!). But, my very best good friend is moving from Chicago to Dallas and we decided to do something super-Chicagoy for her going-away.
…or to go to on a double date to a restaurant with a Michelin star if we could talk our respective boyfriends into the very costly idea.

And it seems like our boyfriends were both in good spirits when we popped the question!

Elizabeth FRONT

From the outside, you would never know you’re looking at a restaurant, let alone one of the best in Chicago that requires pre-purchasing tickets to enter. I guess that’s the cool thing, now and always: to be so cool, you don’t even want to draw attention to how cool you are.

Cool.

And I could take you on a walk through all 12 courses (and 40 pictures…) of the tasting menu, but since this post is a stand-in for my newly-announced Friday Five, let’s just look at the 5 best things I had at my first Michelin star experience.

I’ll give you a picture, the menu description (provided at the meal’s end), and what I actually remember about it because the menu descriptions are hilariously vague.
All in the name of being cool, I guess.

First, two staple items that will always be on the menu:

Elizabeth 11SHRIMP NOODLES

That is a bite-sized serving of noodles made from shrimp. Not flavored with shrimp, made from shrimp. (HOW?) Atop the noodles are a slice of fresh parmesan and a sprig of parsley.
Check, please!

Elizabeth 15MUSHROOM TEA

That about sums it up.
And even though this tea cup was tiny, it took most of us at least 10 minutes to sip this amazingly rich and flavorful tea (John basically took his like a shot and proclaimed “WHOO BOY!”).
I want the recipe so I can marinade my pork roasts in it and have it for those sniffly winter days. I bet it works 200x better than chicken noodle.

Next, three items that were new to the 2014 Summer menu:

Elizabeth 6HOUSEMADE CHEESE and SMOKED INGREDIENTS

This was AMAZING. I literally wanted to ask for an entire plate FULL of this. The top white and green bits you see are a grilled cabbage ensconcing a soft, smoked, and seasoned cheese. Not to be outdone by the lower red bit which was a jerky beet (which, even considering the CHEESE, was the best part of the whole dish).
It’s what I imagine a chef might cook at his 4th of July barbecue.

Elizabeth 26.2Fried INDIANA SHRIMP with BOUQUET of the FIELD and FARM

Just like it says, that’s a HUGE fried shrimp. The sauce is an aioli (I would say garlic butter, but I might just be making that up), and it is topped with a garlic kimchi.
I have never appreciated a jumbo shrimp for its size more.

Elizabeth 34CHAMOMILE and SASSAFRAS

Best for last, the dessert that put the table in that non-awkward silence where we all know everyone else is quietly enjoying the amazingness that was this dessert. This is sassafras gelato sprinkled with chamomile. Below that is a chamomile custard, a smoked honey granola, with a drizzle of honey around. I never thought I would rave about plant-flavored ice cream, but here we are.
I wonder if Haagen Dazs is on this, yet? They’d make a fortune (more than they already do).

And there you have it, readers, the beginning of my 30 by 30 and one of the best (and most expensive) meals I will ever eat.

Are you into the “fine dining” scene? Why or why not?

What is the best meal you’ve ever had and what was the occasion?

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