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Graham Elliot 15 course Repertoir vs. BonSoiree 13 course?

Graham Elliot 15 course Repertoir vs. BonSoiree 13 course?
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  • Graham Elliot 15 course Repertoir vs. BonSoiree 13 course?

    Post #1 - September 29th, 2010, 5:45 pm
    Post #1 - September 29th, 2010, 5:45 pm Post #1 - September 29th, 2010, 5:45 pm
    Hi all - heading back to Chicago for SOFA in November and have 4 nights to dine - one night with my sister, 2 nights with friends, and one solo. Done Alinea twice (and would definitely go back, but the menu has not changed much since last visit,) L2o (would consider going back for luxury menu, Trotter's, TRU (dessert tasting, never dinner proper,) Spiaggia (terrible experience,) and others.

    For dinners with my buddies we are doing a Chef's designed extended tasting at Everest one evening and Girl and the Goat the other night.

    For dinner with my sister we're working on Schwa reservations - if they fall through, thinking about Boka.

    For my night alone I'm trying to decide between Graham Elliot's 15 course and BonSoiree's 13 course. I Have not seen too many reports of either - anyone done both, or either that may want to share their experience?

    Thanks!

    http://uhockey.blogspot.com
  • Post #2 - September 30th, 2010, 3:44 pm
    Post #2 - September 30th, 2010, 3:44 pm Post #2 - September 30th, 2010, 3:44 pm
    197 views and no opinions? :-)

    I happily got reservations at Schwa for 11/4/10 today, so that is awesome.
  • Post #3 - September 30th, 2010, 3:51 pm
    Post #3 - September 30th, 2010, 3:51 pm Post #3 - September 30th, 2010, 3:51 pm
    I almost posted that you seem to be into high-end joints, ignoring all the smaller, mom and pop ethic places that can offer a so-much-more rewarding experience. LTH is great at finding the best of those kinds of places. But I won't mention it, because that doesn't seem like your thing.
  • Post #4 - September 30th, 2010, 3:55 pm
    Post #4 - September 30th, 2010, 3:55 pm Post #4 - September 30th, 2010, 3:55 pm
    nr706 wrote:I almost posted that you seem to be into high-end joints, ignoring all the smaller, mom and pop ethic places that can offer a so-much-more rewarding experience. LTH is great at finding the best of those kinds of places. But I won't mention it, because that doesn't seem like your thing.


    You can offer any experience you like - I'm not opposed to such things, but generally I admit to sticking to the "high end" and "kitsch"

    I've been to Bongo Room, Lula Cafe, Over Easy, Topo, Frontera, Toast Two, Yolk, m.henry, and a number of your bakeries.
  • Post #5 - September 30th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    Post #5 - September 30th, 2010, 3:59 pm Post #5 - September 30th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    Hey, folks, shall we tamp down the judgment a tad? If someone wants to do tasting menus at high end restaurants that's his or her prerogative; for all we know, they eat at TAC every other night of the week. As to whether a mom and pop ethnic place offers a much-more rewarding experience, I again think that's up to the individual, the occasion, the time of day, the weather, and I don't think LTH has an official position on it.

    Uhockey- Statistically speaking, there are probably relatively few people who have done both the 15 course tasting menu at both Graham Elliot and BonSoiree, and have a strong enough opinion to comment on it, hence the views, but no responses. Sorry.
  • Post #6 - September 30th, 2010, 4:03 pm
    Post #6 - September 30th, 2010, 4:03 pm Post #6 - September 30th, 2010, 4:03 pm
    Sorry you didn't get any responses and had to deal with that snarky comment.

    I have been to Graham Elliot many times and ordered the entire menu (with a group) before they had the repertoire. I know you said you were going alone...so the repertoire is your best bet if you want to try many things. I always have fun at Graham Elliot, but I would rather go with a group than alone.

    I have also eaten at Bonsoiree, but didn't have the 13 course meal. I would explore other options since you are going to Schwa. I almost always find BYOB places overrated, so I wasn't bouncing off the walls after Bonsoiree. Schwa was an awesome experience, though.

    I would suggest a couple of places for your night out alone. They are Avenues in the Peninsula hotel and Ria in the Elysian hotel. Both are awesome - food, service and atmosphere. The Ria was $95 for the 7 course tasting last time I was there and Avenues was $105 or $125, depending on meat vs. veg. The Elysian is a hot new space, the Peninsula is a little more established and laid back.

    Good luck and let me know if you want more details on either of those places.

    Matt

    @whatsmatteating
  • Post #7 - September 30th, 2010, 4:07 pm
    Post #7 - September 30th, 2010, 4:07 pm Post #7 - September 30th, 2010, 4:07 pm
    I wasn't offended - people are free to their snarkiness and smart ass opinions. My blog describes my eating philosophy - I do all my own cooking at home and never go out to eat, thus when I travel I go to places "worth going out for." I don't offend easily - if he/she wants to recommend the best taco truck in town he/she can - doesn't mean I'll go.

    Avenues was/is intriguing to me, but the current menu doesn't wow me as much as it has in the past. I have to look into Ria.
  • Post #8 - October 2nd, 2010, 5:16 pm
    Post #8 - October 2nd, 2010, 5:16 pm Post #8 - October 2nd, 2010, 5:16 pm
    I haven't done either of the dinners you describe, although I have eaten at both restaurants. I've only been to Bonsoiree once and did the 5-course menu. I thought it paled in comparison to Schwa, and although there were some very good courses, there was also some very middle-of-the-road items. I'm not that excited to return, although I enjoyed the meal.

    On the other hand, I really like the food at Graham Elliot, although I've typically just had three courses (and tastes of dining companions' food). I just find the cooking at GE to be more polished, more guaranteed to please. I also enjoy many of his whimsical preparations.
  • Post #9 - October 2nd, 2010, 7:29 pm
    Post #9 - October 2nd, 2010, 7:29 pm Post #9 - October 2nd, 2010, 7:29 pm
    BR wrote:I haven't done either of the dinners you describe, although I have eaten at both restaurants. I've only been to Bonsoiree once and did the 5-course menu. I thought it paled in comparison to Schwa, and although there were some very good courses, there was also some very middle-of-the-road items. I'm not that excited to return, although I enjoyed the meal.

    On the other hand, I really like the food at Graham Elliot, although I've typically just had three courses (and tastes of dining companions' food). I just find the cooking at GE to be more polished, more guaranteed to please. I also enjoy many of his whimsical preparations.


    Thanks for the thoughts - I'm still debating the two choices, but the folks at Bonsoiree have been most helpful in answering questions. I don't really like the fact that ge is so rarely in his kitchen these days since he only has that one restaurant, but I must admit the menu has a lot of high points currently. :)
  • Post #10 - October 3rd, 2010, 12:17 pm
    Post #10 - October 3rd, 2010, 12:17 pm Post #10 - October 3rd, 2010, 12:17 pm
    Hi uhockey,

    I must agree with some of the previous posters who have indicated that Bonsoiree had not knocked their socks off, but instead created a pleasant dining experience while providing some ethereal courses wedged between the ho-hum. At the fear of sounding rash, Schwa will comprehensively outshine both Graham Elliot and Bonsoiree in terms of execution and over-all experience. Many of the dishes that I have had a Bonsoiree were fine, adequate, and perfunctory. But some were victims of poor execution, such as a creme brulee that did not set and over-cooked duck breast.

    While I have appreciated many of the courses that I have received from Graham Elliot, the flavors in many of them where not particularly balanced; many of the components that worked well together were cumbersomely composed. Particularly of note where the Kung Pow sweetbreads -- the thymus was exceedingly bitter until combined with the peanut brittle. My least favorite dish of all time at Schwa, the bottega with chocolate and cheese, still prevailed because each element was delicious on its own yet still amplified each other in harmony. Furthermore, I simply didn't feel comfortable at GE's restaurant, found the service inadequate and disinterested while I dined with my fiancee and parents.

    While tasting menus may be your thing, I strongly suggest you look to some of our middle of the road destinations. I recently had a memorable meal at North Pond (despite this site's lukewarm reception). Another place I enjoyed recently was Arami and Chizakaya if you're in a Japanese sort of mood. The nature of each restaurant sort of allows you to create your own tasting menu. Le Nomades also has a wonderful tasting menu, even if it is over priced for what you get. The Bristol would also go on my list of 'must trys' when in the city.
  • Post #11 - October 3rd, 2010, 1:45 pm
    Post #11 - October 3rd, 2010, 1:45 pm Post #11 - October 3rd, 2010, 1:45 pm
    vinyl endive wrote:Hi uhockey,

    I must agree with some of the previous posters who have indicated that Bonsoiree had not knocked their socks off, but instead created a pleasant dining experience while providing some ethereal courses wedged between the ho-hum. At the fear of sounding rash, Schwa will comprehensively outshine both Graham Elliot and Bonsoiree in terms of execution and over-all experience. Many of the dishes that I have had a Bonsoiree were fine, adequate, and perfunctory. But some were victims of poor execution, such as a creme brulee that did not set and over-cooked duck breast.

    While I have appreciated many of the courses that I have received from Graham Elliot, the flavors in many of them where not particularly balanced; many of the components that worked well together were cumbersomely composed. Particularly of note where the Kung Pow sweetbreads -- the thymus was exceedingly bitter until combined with the peanut brittle. My least favorite dish of all time at Schwa, the bottega with chocolate and cheese, still prevailed because each element was delicious on its own yet still amplified each other in harmony. Furthermore, I simply didn't feel comfortable at GE's restaurant, found the service inadequate and disinterested while I dined with my fiancee and parents.

    While tasting menus may be your thing, I strongly suggest you look to some of our middle of the road destinations. I recently had a memorable meal at North Pond (despite this site's lukewarm reception). Another place I enjoyed recently was Arami and Chizakaya if you're in a Japanese sort of mood. The nature of each restaurant sort of allows you to create your own tasting menu. Le Nomades also has a wonderful tasting menu, even if it is over priced for what you get. The Bristol would also go on my list of 'must trys' when in the city.


    North Pond was "decent" - I've been there. Les Nomades appears very similar to Everest but most consider it inferior. Arami requires looking into while Chizakaya seems "too new." I agree the Bristol is a place I need to get to - so is Publican.

    I'm excited for Schwa to say the least.
  • Post #12 - October 3rd, 2010, 4:39 pm
    Post #12 - October 3rd, 2010, 4:39 pm Post #12 - October 3rd, 2010, 4:39 pm
    uhockey wrote:
    Thanks for the thoughts - I'm still debating the two choices, but the folks at Bonsoiree have been most helpful in answering questions. I don't really like the fact that ge is so rarely in his kitchen these days since he only has that one restaurant, but I must admit the menu has a lot of high points currently. :)


    Just wanted to chime in here about Graham Elliot. We've been maybe 3 times in the last year, and Chef GEB was onsite 2 of those 3 nights. The bartender (who was really knowledgeable and amiable) also mentioned that the Chef is present for service pretty frequently. Btw, we've always really enjoyed our meals and the service at Graham Elliot and we're anxious to get back and try the more recent changes he's made to the menu. I definitely recommend it quite enthusiastically.

    Can't help you on Bonsoiree though, I still haven't been.
  • Post #13 - October 3rd, 2010, 10:59 pm
    Post #13 - October 3rd, 2010, 10:59 pm Post #13 - October 3rd, 2010, 10:59 pm
    Have you done Publican? Or Hearty? I was really surprised by Hearty when I went for brunch and think that someone with your tastes could be happy... Also, go to The Violet Hour, belly up to the bar and order some of their bites.
  • Post #14 - October 4th, 2010, 12:59 pm
    Post #14 - October 4th, 2010, 12:59 pm Post #14 - October 4th, 2010, 12:59 pm
    vinyl endive wrote: My least favorite dish of all time at Schwa, the bottega with chocolate and cheese, still prevailed because each element was delicious on its own yet still amplified each other in harmony.


    Bottarga? Just asking 'cause I love bottarga, a rarely seen and misunderstood ingredient that I can't imagie combining with chocolate....
  • Post #15 - October 4th, 2010, 1:48 pm
    Post #15 - October 4th, 2010, 1:48 pm Post #15 - October 4th, 2010, 1:48 pm
    I'll chime in, having gone to Graham Elliot for the first time on Saturday and had the BonSoiree tasting about six months ago. BonSoiree was pleasant but forgettable -- the only dish I even recall was a dessert composed of several small bites of different chocolate/banana combinations. Cute space, super-chummy server, no compelling reason to go back.

    I liked Graham Elliot quite a bit more. Excellent cocktails and a great bartender-- we sat at the bar until our table was ready. My dining companion and I both had the Experience , which is 10 courses (the Repertoire is 20+ courses and includes a taste of everything on the menu, I think). My favorites included a curried squash/coconut bisque with a lemongrass marshmallow; a dish of char with pumpernickel crumbs, dill and tiny spaetzle; a chunk of braised short rib with housemade kimchi; and a pistachio panna cotta with sour-cherry gelato.

    As I think about where GE falls in my Chicago pantheon, I've decided that it feels like Schwa Lite to me. GE specializes in fairly conventional flavor combinations executed in ways that look amusing on the plate: the lemongrass marshmallow in the soup, for example, or the pile of finely ground pumpernickel crumbs with the whitefish. My heart belongs to Michael Carlson and Schwa for the truly innovative combinations he comes up with: the bottarga with blue cheese and chocolate mentioned above, or veal heart with Taleggio and huckleberries. Graham Elliot (the chef) is aiming for a wider audience, and I think he achieves what he sets out to do, but that meal was less of an adventure than I would have liked. Every time I go to Schwa, on the other hand, I leave grinning and shaking my head and saying "god damn."

    One note on atmosphere: The vibe at GE is energetic, but the room is pretty noisy and the two-top kept us far enough apart that we felt like we were shouting our conversation. Chef GE was on site Saturday night, but he wasn't working the room.

    I'm glad to have tried GE and will likely go back, probably for cocktails and to eat at the bar. I'd recommend GE over BonSoiree, for sure.
  • Post #16 - October 4th, 2010, 4:17 pm
    Post #16 - October 4th, 2010, 4:17 pm Post #16 - October 4th, 2010, 4:17 pm
    SMT - Thanks. I see they just changed to the fall menu. Nothing really blowing me away on it save for the Sweetbreads and desserts. I've heard the place is a lot of fun, but as I'll be dining alone I rather wonder if it will be the same.

    JeffB - yep, Bottarga - there are pics on Flickr. Seems insane but I have it on good word that it "works." He is currently doing a beef mole served with marshmallows and graham crackers as a "S'more."

    ll982 - like I said about Publican, it looks like a great dinner, but that brunch menu seems so......I don't know, uninspiring. Hearty looks pretty freaking awesome though - had heard of them but never really looked into it. Do they serve desserts at brunch?

    watson - did you do the 13 course at Bonsoiree? How were portions and quality of prep? Did they do Duck Duck Goose or the Smoking Bacon Box? How was bread service? As I'm doing Schwa the day before, is GE still worth it?
  • Post #17 - October 4th, 2010, 4:58 pm
    Post #17 - October 4th, 2010, 4:58 pm Post #17 - October 4th, 2010, 4:58 pm
    I would certainly consider Avenues under Curtis Duffy. Putting aside Alinea (which no one should do), I think that Avenues is now preparing the best food in Chicago. I would certainly rate it higher than either Graham Elliott or Bonsoiree (both of which I enjoy, but they are in different culinary worlds from Avenues).
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #18 - October 4th, 2010, 8:14 pm
    Post #18 - October 4th, 2010, 8:14 pm Post #18 - October 4th, 2010, 8:14 pm
    GAF wrote:I would certainly consider Avenues under Curtis Duffy. Putting aside Alinea (which no one should do), I think that Avenues is now preparing the best food in Chicago. I would certainly rate it higher than either Graham Elliott or Bonsoiree (both of which I enjoy, but they are in different culinary worlds from Avenues).

    Great suggestion Gary . . . I would say Avenues under Duffy far exceeds what's being done at both Graham Elliot and Bonsoiree.

    As for Hearty, I've been a few times for brunch, only once for dinner. For the most part, I've enjoyed the brunches but wouldn't put it in my top creative brunch places in the city. My only dinner there was on the disappointing side (viewtopic.php?p=334316#p334316), but I know others have liked it. I don't know if they serve any of their desserts at brunch, however.
  • Post #19 - October 5th, 2010, 4:48 am
    Post #19 - October 5th, 2010, 4:48 am Post #19 - October 5th, 2010, 4:48 am
    GAF wrote:I would certainly consider Avenues under Curtis Duffy. Putting aside Alinea (which no one should do), I think that Avenues is now preparing the best food in Chicago. I would certainly rate it higher than either Graham Elliott or Bonsoiree (both of which I enjoy, but they are in different culinary worlds from Avenues).


    As I stated above - Avenues sounds nice, but the current menu (which I'm sure will change) doesn't really inspire me at all. I liked when they had the multitude of different tastings.
  • Post #20 - October 5th, 2010, 6:42 am
    Post #20 - October 5th, 2010, 6:42 am Post #20 - October 5th, 2010, 6:42 am
    watson - did you do the 13 course at Bonsoiree? How were portions and quality of prep? Did they do Duck Duck Goose or the Smoking Bacon Box? How was bread service? As I'm doing Schwa the day before, is GE still worth it?


    I believe we did the seven-course; no Duck Duck Goose or bacon box. Portions were small, as I expected, but not minuscule, and I don't recall any preparation missteps (nor any presentation knockouts). Bread service: so unmemorable that I can't say for sure whether there actually was bread service.

    As long as you go into GE with different expectations than you have for Schwa, I think it's worth the comparison trip. I'd love to read your take on the two dinners, frankly. I just don't think Bonsoiree is in the same league as either of those two places.
  • Post #21 - October 5th, 2010, 5:25 pm
    Post #21 - October 5th, 2010, 5:25 pm Post #21 - October 5th, 2010, 5:25 pm
    BR wrote:
    GAF wrote:I would certainly consider Avenues under Curtis Duffy. Putting aside Alinea (which no one should do), I think that Avenues is now preparing the best food in Chicago. I would certainly rate it higher than either Graham Elliott or Bonsoiree (both of which I enjoy, but they are in different culinary worlds from Avenues).

    Great suggestion Gary . . . I would say Avenues under Duffy far exceeds what's being done at both Graham Elliot and Bonsoiree.

    As for Hearty, I've been a few times for brunch, only once for dinner. For the most part, I've enjoyed the brunches but wouldn't put it in my top creative brunch places in the city. My only dinner there was on the disappointing side (http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=334316#p334316), but I know others have liked it. I don't know if they serve any of their desserts at brunch, however.


    Booked Hearty.

    Anyone know a place that does an excellent Saturday breakfast/brunch - we prefer sweet to savory. Have done both Bongo Rooms, Lula, Over Easy, m.henry, Yolk, Toast Two, Frontera Grill, others.

    Any thoughts on Bakin n' Eggs? Perennial? Big Jones? Meli?
  • Post #22 - October 6th, 2010, 5:38 am
    Post #22 - October 6th, 2010, 5:38 am Post #22 - October 6th, 2010, 5:38 am
    uhockey wrote:Anyone know a place that does an excellent Saturday breakfast/brunch - we prefer sweet to savory. Have done both Bongo Rooms, Lula, Over Easy, m.henry, Yolk, Toast Two, Frontera Grill, others.

    Any thoughts on Bakin n' Eggs? Perennial? Big Jones? Meli?



    Mixteco has a terrific brunch on the north side.
  • Post #23 - October 6th, 2010, 8:04 am
    Post #23 - October 6th, 2010, 8:04 am Post #23 - October 6th, 2010, 8:04 am
    Sola is one of my favorite places for Sunday brunch these days. I was there a week ago and everything was really stellar, my eggs were poached perfectly and the mini donuts were hot and delicious. I definitely recommend trying it if you can get in before they close shop on the north side in order to move to new digs in River North.
  • Post #24 - October 6th, 2010, 8:13 am
    Post #24 - October 6th, 2010, 8:13 am Post #24 - October 6th, 2010, 8:13 am
    M.Henry and Bongo Room always roll out new seasonal items for the "sweet" side of the menu. I was at Bongo Room last weekend and some new Fall items include Banana Oreo Flapjacks and Pecan Pumpkin Flapjacks. However, if you want to try something new, I would also throw Nightwood and The Southern into the ring. If you enjoyed Lula Cafe, Nightwood is a logical choice since it also owned by Jason Hammel.
  • Post #25 - October 7th, 2010, 5:53 am
    Post #25 - October 7th, 2010, 5:53 am Post #25 - October 7th, 2010, 5:53 am
    Just wanted to thank all for their opinions here - I'll eventually write reviews in the blog and cross post them here or at Chowhound. I decided to go with Bonsoiree largely because their customer service man, Dozzy, is potentially one of the best reservationists I've ever spoken to on the phone. Bonsoiree will be my one meal alone, the rest will be 2+ persons.

    Dinners booked are Schwa, Bonsoiree 13+ course, Everest extended tasting, and Girl and the Goat.
    Lunches will be Henri, Coco Pazzo, and Purple Pig.
    Breakfasts scheduled are Hearty and Southport Grocery and cafe - may consider Jam and Sola, or Meli depending on satiety and time.
    Going to try to order and pick up something from Great Lake for my co-travelers to eat after their conference - if not, probably go with Uno - ideally I'll get to taste one or the other.

    Thanks all.

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