by Michelle Hespe
Celebrity chefs, world-renowned restaurants, ethnic dining from around the globe. Chicago’s dining scene is unparalleled and interesting even from a design and architecture point of view.
Appetite for Design is a fantastic initiative created by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, marrying great design and architecture with innovative dishes and design-conscious chefs. With well-known local restaurants such as Girl & The Goat and Sixteen on the well-researched menu, there is plenty to keep the design-hungry satiated.
Girl & the Goat, in Chicago’s West Loop, is a great design experience for those who appreciate a sustainable approach to living. Showcasing the culinary talents of executive chef and partner, and “Top Chef” season four-winner, Stephanie Izard, the 7,400 square-foot restaurant supports local farmers and has a sustainable menu featuring rustic, new American cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences. The locals and tourists flock here for the food and the setting – the interior of the restaurant has a rustic elegance, with almost everything in sight being reclaimed or refurbished. From chunky butcher-block tables to stunning Ipe hardwood floors to a cobbled European oak bar and vintage fireboxes from turn-of-the-century Chicago homes, it’s a cozy place with innovation tucked into every corner. The open kitchen and communal tables lend a warm, family home kind of feeling, ensuring diners linger and come back often.
Sixteen (photo credit: Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing) is a different designer kettle of fish altogether. As the signature restaurant at the Trump International Hotel and headed up by Chef Frank Brunacci, Sixteen truly embraces refined design. Elevator doors slide back to reveal wine rooms with floor-to-ceiling plate glass framing an iconic Chicago view – the top of the Tribune Tower. It’s all about opulence – in the 30-foot-high main dining room an enormous Swarovski chandelier reflects and refracts the shimmering grandeur. There are three dining rooms, each with an outstanding view of Chicago – one looking over Lake Michigan (where 12 million people live along its shores), another overlooking the Chicago River (which runs through the city) and the third looking directly at the landmark Jeweler’s Building across the river.
But if you want to take it to the to notch while in Chicago and get really serious about food and design joining forces in a series of clever culinary inventions, one of the most exciting restaurants in the world calls Chicago home. Alinea is considered by chefs and those immersed in the food industry to be on a completely different level. Head chef Grant Achatz is at the helm of this culinary American pinnacle, leading Alinea into the World’s top 50 restaurants year after year.
Alinea has been called a “riot of invention” and although Achatz did a short four-day stint at El Bulli that inspired him to continually create one of the most innovative menus in the world, it was his classical training at The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley that helped him to hone in and strengthen his abilities. Now at Alinea, his imagination runs wild daily for the benefit of the guests who manage to score a table. It’s not easy. But it’s a seamless, ongoing fusion of food and design that is worth every dollar spent.
To learn more about the great Chicago restaurants and to plan your visit to Chicago, visit www.choosechicago.com.
Also, be inspired by beautiful Chicago videos by Choose Chicago: