A Front Row Seat at EL Ideas

One of the most incredible dining experiences I’ve ever had was in Chicago when I had dinner at EL Ideas. The Michelin-starred restaurant located in the little known neighborhood of Douglas Park makes fine dining fun and approachable. It’s also BYOB, so my first stop was Eataly for a couple bottles of wine.

With a bottle each of a red and a white, it was time to head to the restaurant. I was lucky enough to reserve a “front row seat” where you actually sit inside the kitchen in the middle of all the action!

The other diners sit at the few tables in the dining area near the entrance. When I walked in, I was shown to a small table inside the kitchen and immediately welcomed. I knew this was going to be very different from other Michelin meals I’ve had in the past.

Chef and owner, Phillip Foss, emphasizes adventurous cuisine and encourages unqiue creations from the small culinary team. It all began with a tasty amuse-bouche of parmesan and parsley that you lick off the plate. It was followed by a plump oyster with egg, miso, umeboshi (Japanese salt plum), cucumber, and radish.

The vibe was laidback and far from stuffy. Diners are welcome to walk around, take pictures, and interact with the chefs. The next couple dishes were delightful – octopus with broccolini and lemon and a scallop puff pastry with king crab.

The next course was Chef Foss’s signature dish – French fries & ice cream. The dish, inspired by his daughter’s love for dipping fries in vanilla ice cream, consists of liquid nitrogen ice cream with creamy potato soup and bits of French fries underneath. Good stuff!

EL Ideas Ice Cream

Next up was pheasant with rutabaga, escarole, and a maitake “cigar”. It was so cool to watch everything being prepared directly in front of me and chat with fellow diners.

The pheasant was followed by a delicious rib with hoisin, black sesame, limequat, and cabbage.

The last savory dish was a tender beef strip with sour cream, beet, rye, and dill.

Moving on to dessert, it began with a unique dish of foie gras, milk, cranberry, and Cap’n Crunch cereal. Nice!

It was all concluded with a plate of chocolate, quince (lumpy pear-shaped fruit), guajillo chile, mascarpone, and rose.

One final bite of a piece of chocolate and then everybody was welcome to pour a cup of coffee or tea and hang out for a bit.

What an amazing ding experience! I had a wonderful time sitting inside the kitchen, watching each dish being skillfully prepared, talking to the chefs, meeting fellow diners, and the freedom to walk around the prep area. The creative dishes were fabulous. It was such a fun and relaxed Michelin-starred dinner.

EL Ideas - Chicago

A big thank you to Chef Foss, Chef Price, and Chef Mutchnick!

Chef Phillip Foss

EL Ideas - Chicago

The night eventually ended with some colorful bucket drinks and intense bubble hockey competition. Oh, Chicago!

EL Ideas
2419 W 14th Street
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-8144

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