Chicago’s Grace Awarded Two Michelin Stars; Next Snubbed Again

Curtis Duffy, an ex-chef de cuisine at Alinea, Chicago’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant, was awarded two stars today for Grace, his year-old tasting menu spot, the Red Guide announced.

Grace, in Chicago’s West Loop, charges $185 for about nine courses of “flora” or “fauna.” The restaurant’s website describes the fare as “micro-seasonal” and “thoughtfully progressive.”

Sixteen, helmed by Joel Robuchon protege Thomas Lents, was the only other Second City restaurant to enter the two-star category. Promoted from one star, Sixteen serves set dinner menus from $98-$210. Richard Melman’s L20 and Graham Elliot’s eponymous restaurant kept their two-star honors, though Elliot will close at the year’s end.

Elizabeth Restaurant, which uses the online ticketing system developed by Grant Achatz’s Alinea and Next, earned a star just a year after opening. The award adds Iliana Regan to the small but growing ranks of Michelin-starred female chefs in the U.S.

“We love giving stars. We love giving stars to women especially because it creates role models for other women,” said Michael Ellis, international director of the guides, in a telephone interview.

Elizabeth serves “New Gatherer” cuisine, focusing on “nose-to-tail, root-to-branch, and farm-to-table Midwestern bounty,” per its website. And like at Next, guests pay for their meals in full at the time of booking, including optional wine pairings, tax and service charge.


The 17-to-20-course dinners at Elizabeth range from $75- $165, with prices being lower midweek than during weekend slots.

Achatz’s Next, a restaurant so popular that tickets for dinner can sometimes fetch multiple times their face value in secondary markets, failed to receive a star again.

“We went there a number of times,” Ellis said when asked about Next. “Some things worked really great, and some things didn’t work. We certainly found some wonderful food, but it wasn’t consistently starred, and it has to be consistent if we’re going to give them a star.”

Other new members of the one-star ranks include EL Ideas, a BYOB restaurant; The Lobby, a somewhat mundanely named restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel; North Pond in Lincoln Park; and Senza in Lakeview.

Three stars mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey; two stars are for excellent cooking, worth a detour; one star denotes a very good restaurant in its category.

Michelin & Cie is Europe’s largest tire maker. It produced its first guide in August 1900, distributed free (until 1920) and intended for chauffeurs.

The “Michelin Guide Chicago 2014” goes on sale Wednesday for $18.99.

The Chicago restaurants awarded stars are:

Three Stars:

Two Stars:
Graham Elliot

One Star:
EL Ideas
The Lobby
Longman & Eagle
North Pond

(Ryan Sutton writes about New York City restaurants for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.)

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