Ever since the Seasons Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Chicago was renovated into Allium, I have wanted to try it out. And Restaurant Week was the perfect time to do so. Thanks to our waitress, we tried practically half the menu amongst the four of us. Warning: DO NOT order as if the dishes are small plates if your waitress suggests it because they are not (unless you have the appetite of a sumo wrestler). In any case, I started out with a Purple Haze (Figure 1), which is a St. Germain based drink with lychee milk. The best part about it was the hibiscus, which was some of the freshest I’ve ever had. Definitely recommend, and they have the non-alcoholic version too!
For the rest of this post, I’ve categorized the food by menu sections:
The descriptions of the breads on their menu were so enticing that we ordered three. The soft pretzels (Figure 2) were little baked perfections dipped in a thick foie gras and Medjool date mustard. Mustard is normally not my thing, but this tasted nothing like it – it was sweet and actually satisfying.
When the cheese lavosh (Figure 3) was brought up my eyes were popping like a loris. This originally Middle Eastern bread was topped with a layer of cheese that was crisped. It was a bit messy to eat, but every piece was a flaky flawlessness.
And my favorite bread of the night was the brioche pull apart (Figure 4), a warm and fluffy bread the pulled apart like cotton candy. With it came goat and cow butters, which were some of the best I’ve ever had.
Smaller (but compared to what?)
Naked cowboy oysters from New York were matched with hoppy pickled radishes and chicharrones (Figure 5). I am not a big fan of raw oysters so I left them to the rest of the party, who enjoyed slurping them up immensely.
As I saw the crab fritters with a side of lobster caviar dip (Figure 6), I was in seafood paradise. The spherical crab fritter was a crispy sphere filled with a burst of soft, fresh crab.
The bison tartare (Figure 7) is perhaps the best appetizer on the menu. With a 62 degree egg mixed in and some waffle chips to dip, this dish is absolutely refreshing. I could not get enough of this.
Bigger (they sure were)
At this point, I was already getting pretty stuffed, and for me (and maybe others) there seems to be a negative correlation between fullness and how food tastes. So I may be a bit biased about these next couple dishes…
The foie gras with a duck carnitas tamale (Figure 8) was a large portion with an overly flavorful foie gras and a somewhat bland tamale. Perhaps this far into the meal, a giant piece of fatty duck liver was not the right choice… But the duck cracklings and roasted persimmon in this dish were scrumptious!
One of our friends ordered the suckling pig flatbread topped with sweet potato, apple & cranberry giardiniera, and lamb chopper cheese (Figure 9). The bread was superb since it tasted like a crisped puff pastry. Altogether, it was yummy, but it didn’t blow me away.
The cutest dish of the night was perhaps the two little towers of Wagyu shortrib sliders (Figure 10) with white cheddar and horseradish aioli. At this point, I literally could not take another bite so I left them to everyone else. Apparently they are delicious!
This menu section suggests that whatever you order you will want to keep for yourself. Well, it’s pretty true. We got the Chicago style hot dog with a side of homemade everything (Figure 11). And I would get it again. And again. And again.
The crispy brick chicken (Figure 12) was just what its name says it is: crispy and a brick. It was pretty dense, but with the crispiness, polenta and chicken jus, it surpassed my expectations.
The black walnut carrot cake with brittle (Figure 13) looked like some of the best carrot cake I’ve seen, but I couldn’t take another bite of straight up carbs. So I went for the carrot sorbet on the side, which cleansed my palate. It was delicious.
Allium also serves cheesecake sundae (Figure 14) with huckleberries, graham cracker crunchies, cream cheese mousse and grapefruit, not to mention the ice. In essence, the toppings were like a mini mountain of Taiwanese shaved ice.
And finally, I had the flaming banana foster (Figure 15), and honestly, I should have let if flame longer than 30 seconds. Even after I mixed the rum in a little, my first bite was a mouthful of rum. After I thoroughly mixed it in, though, it was a rich dessert with a kick.
- If your waiter/waitress tells you that the dishes are small plate, tapas style, they are probably going after the tip.
- The breads are out of this world, and I highly recommend them.
- Seasons Restaurant was good, but somewhat old school. Allium gives everything a new twist (although I do miss the lamb chops from Seasons).
I had to lower the rating a tad bit because of the service – I can’t believe we were told that the dishes were small plates which led us to order so much, but in the end, I’m glad we had a well rounded tasting of everything.