It should come as no surprise that I like people who are creative and even more unshocking that I like people who are creative with food. I was in Chicago for a night last week and treated to a fantastic dinner at EL Ideas, where creativity hit the plate. The most gorgeous of plates, in fact.
EL Ideas is a 12 course dinner where the menu constantly changes and the chef/owner Phillip Foss brings out his imagination. It's like we were being treated to play time in the kitchen and I was more than happy to join in. The small restaurant holds about 16 dinner guests and everyone is encouraged to mingle (I might have eavesdropped and interrupted the girls conversation next to us - they were talking about Stumptown!), visit the kitchen, take photos, and even help plate the food.
And the plating... that is where I was really impressed. These were some of the most beautiful plates of food I've ever seen. It's interesting to dine with John who is all about flavor, when often I am all about presentation. Give me a pretty color scheme on a white plate and I begin to swoon.
My favorite dish was the chef's take on french fries and a milkshake which ended up being vanilla ice cream in potato soup. I'm definitely one to dip my fries in my milkshakes at Shake Shack, so this creative dish was happiness in a bowl (a bowl that I wanted to lick clean like a cat, Cheshire smile at the end and all.) The last dessert was a take on an Old Fashioned that was as light as air.
The music in the dining room was played from iTunes and consisted of a few mash-ups but mostly covers of some really fantastic songs. I think this suited EL Ideas so nicely... the food is like covers themselves. Something delicious and familiar remastered in a creatively fresh and new way, presented for you to enjoy. And enjoy I did.