Summary: Recommended with reservations despite a very bad night.
2300 N Lincoln Park W
Chicago, IL 60614
After a few rather disappointing meals at this and other 2011 Michelin rated spots, first I must say that a restaurant may get great reviews by critics but the best way to truly judge a place is to go for yourself. Alas, Michelin thus far has proven itself unreliable in my book. Under no stretch of the imagination could I see L2O deserving all three of the stars it received. MAYBE two stars. It merits a return visit but ONLY because there is no way service could consistently be as bad as what we experienced.
Continuing on my Michelin star restaurant quest and admitting up front that this review is biased based on comparison to the other Michelin star restaurants at which I have dined. See all reviews of the list here
Most relevant comparisons: Alinea (cost, presentation, length of meal), Ria (Chef from L2O plus staff from Ria would be a PHENOMENAL restaurant), Spiaggia (personality of the staff), Naha (decor)
– Bread was awesome, especially the milk bread and bacon filled yumminess they served (Note: bread is better at Girl and the Goat)
– Food was really amazing. Every course of the 8 course tasting menu was fantastic, well prepared and presented. Good looking plating but not so much emphasis on appearance that the food is crappy or cold. The chef rocks (but the house staff fails)
– Wine pairings ok but definitely not stellar. Better wine pairings for less at Ria and sadly, we never even saw the sommollier. Further, our server not only did not know how to pronounce the wine but she really did not have a clue why the wine worked well with each course.
Abysmal. Amateur. SOMEONE IMPORTANT was off that night. Honestly, there is no way this place could be this amateur on a regular basis. The four of us have been to dozens of the world’s best restaurants … Le Bernadin, Le Bec Fin, Ria, Everest, etc … so we know good service. And this was not good service. Out of 8 courses, only one was clearly explained. We sometimes waited ages for water refills and replacement linen napkins. For desert, one of my friends had cheese while the rest of us had the souffle from the tasting menu. Her cheese arrived with our desert wine. We waited and waited and drank the wine and shared the cheese. Then the souffles came out. It was the TASTING MENU. Were they surprised we were having the dessert on the tasting menu?
Sommelier was absent and server could not begin to describe wines
And NONE of the staff seemed to have a personality. There was nothing friendly about any of them. (Actually, the two women at the host station were very friendly but besides pointing me to the restrooms, that did not do much for me.)
Felt like I was in a hotel lobby restaurant. Boring with a few hanging things to spice it up and give semi-privacy. Clean and elegant, but boring.
The Tatami room concept was ODD. At around 10pm, after we had been there for about 3 hours, we started seeing women in kimonos. They were greeting people at the host station and taking them to tables right near us. And occasionally they were taking them to a side room. We finally asked and they explained this was a private dining experience in the Japanese style. I don’t get that AT ALL as there is no link to the restaurant.
Same price range as Alinea but overall package nowhere near as memorable. For 4 people, our bill including tip was $1300+.
Overall : 3
I suspect that this was a very off night for L2O and the food alone would make it worth you trying it out. It merits a return visit because there is no way service could consistently be as bad as what we experienced. However, it is too expensive for what you get and there are at least five other restaurants I would go to first before returning to L2O. And under no stretch of the imagination could I see L20 deserving all three of the stars it received.
In relationship with #foodies,
Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections
For more reviews, go to my yelp profile here or find me on TripAdvisor with username ALSWharton.