Chicago >Food & Dining > L2o
2300 N Lincoln Park W # 61715, Chicago, IL | Directions 6061441.924091 -87.636974
Mon, Wed-Thu 6pm-10pm
Neighborhoods: North Side, Lincoln Park
L20 might be the most underrated restaurant in recent American culinary history. A four-star showpiece for the brilliant Laurent Gras originally, it's now helmed by Matthew Kirkley and is as good as, or better than ever. And yet it remains neglected on the short lists of the greatest American restaurants. Which is a mistake.
This may be the seafood mecca for all of Chicago located right in the heart of Lincoln Park in the quirky and charming Belden-Stratford Hotel.
As Good As It Gets – I went here for one of my best friend's birthdays last year. My perspective might be slightly warped as I'd gone with a big group of professional cooks and had just spent the last few days before gorging on some of the best restaurants in New York City. But I must say I was totally and completely impressed with my whole L2O experience.
First of all, the decor is striking in its minimalist beauty. There was a simple palate of dark wood, grey, white and metallics. While we waited for the rest of our party to arrive, we enjoyed the lounge sipping on the wonderfully crafted cocktails. It was a little chilly for some of the girls, and the server brought out pashminas to keep them warm! What a nice touch. Once our party was complete, we moved into the dining room. They took our drinks on a tray and I wondered how they'd know who got which ones since some of us had dupes. As I'd predicted, they mixed up one set, but no big deal. It was just entertaining to see if they'd be able to keep them straight.
All of us being foodies, we'd already scoped out the menu online and we'd had a general idea of what we wanted to eat. And with the help of the sommelier, I decided on a wonderful Torrontes from Argentina. When it came to the food, we opted for the four-course prix fixe menu; and with a couple vegetarians in the party, we'd have a diverse selection of the menu on our table. I chose the Escolar, Salted Cod, Halibut and the Praline Souffle. Everything was beautifully plated, well cooked and borderline foodgasmic. I also remember enjoying the raw tuna and peekytoe crab; the warm octopus, diver scallops, and lobster bisque; the shabu-shabu, pork belly and smoked ribeye were also amazing. Oh, and I can't forget about how amazing the bread service was. Pretty much all of it was perfect. And the cheese plate, tea service and petits fours were also pretty fantastic.
I don't think I've had a better dining experience from top to bottom anywhere else in Chicago. Our service was pretty much top notch, the food was excellent, and it's always great to eat with a bunch of foodies. We spent half the night just taking pictures of the food. lol We all left remarkably full (I was pretty stuffed, actually) and very happy. And because we are all cooks, we got the opportunity to tour their amazingly beautiful kitchen. That was really a treat for food geeks like us. The server also had no problem splitting up our check, which was a nice touch. If I can scrounge up another $200 for dinner, I'd most certainly like to come back. Laurent Gras has created a gem in the crowded Chicago culinary landscape. This really is about as good as it gets.
Wow for food and decor – It was very accomplished service. The food was beautiful and tasty. You know it is expensive, but the wine list had a little surprise. The wine was priced by the half bottle, but served (as expected) by the bottle, so we thought there had been a mistake. I guess the wine was worth the $90 per bottle price, but the surprise on recieving the bill was embarrassing.
Lettuce Entertain You strikes again, this time with storied French chef Laurent Gras fashioning prix-fixe seafood in the former Ambria space. – In Short
Situated in the historic Belden-Stratford hotel, this globally minded seafood spot swaths diners in luxury even before they perch at heavily grained tables with Jetsons-esque seats. Floor- to-ceiling wires create the illusion of privacy while dividing the subdued, neutral space that's manned by unobtrusive servers wheeling sculptural carts. The menu is divided into raw, warm and main selections, and the prix-fixe approach means diners choose one from each category, plus dessert. Although the menu changes, examples might include cherrywood-scented golden eye sea bream with shiso bud or lamb tartare with ebi shrimp, pickled peach and tarragon. Every last detail, down to the bread that's served, is intricately constructed.
Photo by Katherine Bryant
World Class Fine Dining – After my dinner last night, I can still barely construct a sentance. It is that good. Go to L2O as soon as you can.
Perfect from the start – Opening night was Wednesday, May 14th. Had I not known it was opening night, I wouldn't have noticed as dinner was flawless. The dining room is fairly minimalistic but luxurious with leather chairs and wood walls. The service was gracious and attentive from my welcome at the front door until the end.
My favorite dishes were octopus with coconut foam and skate wing with a red wine reduction and asparagus. Dessert was shockingly good and the simply named "Chocolate and Raspberry" had everything from raspberry cotton candy to dark ganache on one plate.
I have a feeling this will be the hottest restaurant soon. There is something for foodies and the "see and be seen" crowd. Wow!
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