Over the summer, I spent a lot of time watching TV. I suppose that’s not entirely surprising, as everyone who knows me knows I live on Netflix. But this summer, I watched the entirety of Chef’s Table, Season 2. And Grant Achatz, Chicago’s favorite poster child of fine dining, was first up to bat.
From Alinea, to Next, Aviary, and the Office, Achatz’s empire has grown since he first opened Alinea in 2005. Most recently, he opened Roister in West Loop (for those who are unfamiliar with Chicago, this has been the growing “it” food destination for the past few years). The concept, compared to the fancier fine dining sets of Alinea and Next, is focused on communal dining.
Roister lunch (November 2016):
Address: 957 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL
Hours: Currently Wednesday – Sunday, Lunch & Dinner
Price range: $29 for lunch prix fixe, $85-95 for dinner sets, and a la carte available
Reservations: As with all of Achatz’s restaurants, the reservations operate as ticket sales. https://roister.tocktix.com/
Getting to our scheduled Roister lunch was a nightmare. Normally, the West Loop area is super accessible – close to the Green/Pink lines, or a short & cheap uber ride. What we did not predict, was that the Cubs were going to win the World Series for the first time in 108 years, and we lived on the wrong side of the parade! We had to wade through an insane number of fans decked out in blue.
I ran out of the house in the morning to catch the parade, and didn’t realize that I hadn’t put a memory card in my camera. So excuse the lovely iPhone quality photos down below… haha
First up! Beet & red endive salad, topped with pistachio & and blue cheese crumbs. I normally hate beets, and I’m surprised they would serve beets in a prix fixe menu, given how many people don’t like them? I was pleasantly surprised that the salad didn’t have that really distinctive beet taste, and ate the entire plate. But I would never order this on its own. The red endive, blue cheese and pistachio combination was pretty good.
Fried Chicken sandwich: Roister is supposed to be famous for its fried chicken (also its whole roasted chicken on the a la carte menu), so this was meant to be the highlight of the meal. The chicken sandwich version is only available for Roister Lunch menu. The breading on the chicken was awesome, there was just too much of it. It took a 2 bits into the sandwich before I got any chicken. The mayonnaise is delicious, although the pickles are very sour (even for someone who loves anything sour).
Yukon Fries: My favorite part of the meal! Gold yukon potato wedges topped with bonito flakes and tofu mayo. It was a little on the salty side, but I feel like that’s how I feel about most fine dining restaurants these days. The wedges were crispy and wonderful.
Foie Gras Chocolate: Very, very rich. The inside is a marshmallow & foie gras mousse, which was delicious. But combined with the heavy fried chicken & fries, I would have loved a lighter dessert.
Roister has a short cocktail / drink menu, and for lunch with fried chicken – I chose a cider. It was light and provided a great counter balance to the richness of the overall meal. Roister has a pretty small drinks menu, but like with most Alinea Group restaurants, they try to control the majority of the experience. The inside of the restaurant is quite dark, although I enjoyed sitting at the counter top looking over the kitchen. I probably won’t be returning to Roister for lunch again, but I am still looking forward to trying the a la carte for dinner!
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