Food: Chicago

Michelin-starred chef James Sommerin has just opened an eponymous restaurant near Cardiff. Here he reveals his favourite Chicago food finds.

By James Sommerin
Published 12 Oct 2014, 11:00 BST, Updated 1 Jul 2021, 14:35 BST

Alinea Restaurant
This has to be my top place to eat in Chicago. I had the advanced tasting menu — around 27 courses and worth every penny. My favourite had to be Wagu beef with date, maple and wild mushroom. The beef had been dipped in liquid nitrogen and was brought to the table suspended from a peg. The waiter then placed a dish of mushroom, date and maple before me and removed the now-defrosted beef from the peg, laying it on the mushroom to finish cooking. Sublime.

The food at this spot is very theatrical — even the menus are edible. A standout plate here was 'road kill', and when it came to the table, that's exactly what it looked like. The signature dish, cigar and ash, was compressed pork wrapped in vine leaves, served on an ashtray with cumin ash. It's food that plays with the senses.

Buddy Guy's Legends
Chicago is bursting with great blues clubs, and this is one of its best. It's a 'spit and sawdust' locals' spot with a stale beer smell, superb entertainment and food in baskets. I can't fault the flavours — it's simple food cooked very well.

Hot dog stand
It'd be rude to go all the way to Chicago and not try a hotdog. My verdict? They're delicious. The list of accompaniments is endless — think chilli, cheese, pickles, spicy sauces — yet for me, nothing's better than a plain dog with mustard, munched down in Millennium Park.

Health kick

Jamba Juice
Delicious, healthy and filling. These all-natural outlets, scattered across the city, will make any combination of fruit or veg you desire. I had the citrus kick — a blend of oranges, apples, pineapple and ginger.

Published in the November 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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