Somerset — Chicago, USA
Long before Grant Achatz unfurled his New American menu at Alinea, Chicago’s inventive dining scene was already something of an open secret.
The arrival of Lee Wolen’s new Somerset restaurant on the ground floor of the Viceroy in the city’s Gold Coast quarter serves only to confirm that reputation. Designer firm AvroKO has disciplined a tricky double-volumed space with bold panels of deep marine blue, white piping and brass trims, the ensemble meant to recall the halcyon Kennedy era of country clubs and sail boats.
In the kitchen, Wolen – a Cleveland native who is also executive chef at Boka and who booked his credentials with celebrated stints at New York’s Eleven Madison Park, and Chicago’s The Lobby – works an all-day seasonal menu.
The showstoppers though emerge at dinner with smoked beet tartare with goat gouda, and duck leg gnochetti. Seasoned regulars will save room for pastry chef Meg Galus’ butterscotch pudding with coffee Kahlua ice-cream.