For my birthday, Michael got us tickets to dinner. Yep, tickets. A few restaurants here in Chicago are now doing things this way. Reason being, they are not turning over any tables. They only do one seating per night and the menus are already set. If someone didn't show up for a regular reservation, they would be out however much it costs per person. I know that's how most places operate, but the menus here aren't never-ending pasta bowls. They are extensive, creative, and expensive to make. The ticketing system allows them to make these menus while keeping the costs down because each night they know exactly what and how many of each item they are making. Got it? Great. Moving on.
Elizabeth opened up in our new neighborhood back in September and was recently named one of the best restaurants in Chicago. So, tickets in hand, off we went. First, the place is small. But cute-small. Kind of like you are in a little house except for the professional kitchen at the end of the room. They offer three menus that you have to choose from in advance. They then seat you at one of the three harvest tables in the room, so yes, you are sitting with a table of strangers. I don't hate this. Our table was the "deer menu", which is described as having a "woodland and forest influence" and would take about 3 1/2 hours. We also got the wine pairings.
Here was our menu for the night:
I really wish I had taken pictures of everything that night, but I didn't want to be that girl for 3 1/2 hours. Here are a few of the highlights...
"Terrarium of Grandfather's Farm"
From what I remember, this included malt, hazelnuts, pickled olives, pickled hibiscus, and a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting. This was one of our favorite dishes of the night.
"Brioche, Prosciutto, & Fiddlehead"
The prosciutto was a foam inside the brioche and the fiddleheads were pickled. Also amazing.
This is hard to see but on top of those weeds or whatever was this ball that was kind of like raw Ramen with some roe on top. Not bad, but not my favorite. Also, with all the wine and the diverse food, I was this close to eating the dirt at the bottom of the weeds. I thought it was part of the meal. You can't really blame me because later on we're served tree. Kind of (see: dessert). Carry on.
"Rabbit Loin & Stinging Nettles"
That white stuff is bacon powder. This dish was incredible. I don't have a picture of the next dish, but it was bear. Yes, bear. The guy next to me wouldn't eat it, something stupid about teddy bears or whatever. So I ate it off his plate.
"One Pill Makes You Larger"
This was kind of like mushroom tea and started a recurring theme of the head chef, Iliana, coming to our table and explaining that "these mushrooms I foraged from my Grandfather's farm" and "these nettles I collected from my backyard" and so on. Keeping on with the whole "one pill makes you larger" theme, they brought speakers to our table while the tea was prepared and played Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit".
"Berries & Milk"
One of several creative desserts. We also had porcini brownies (so yes, mushroom brownies) and...
..."Birch and Rosehip"
This birch log had been sitting in front of us during the meal and we were told at the end we could eat it. Well, eat the malted twigs on top. Maybe you can now excuse me for trying to eat dirt earlier.
There were other highlights that I didn't get pictures of. Deer heart with acorn gnocchi being a huge standout (I don't know how one makes gnocchi out of acorns but I want more of it). Chef Iliana was lovely, the atmosphere was intimate, and the food was outstanding. One of the best meals (and experiences) I have ever had. Get yourself a ticket (and invite us along).