Atwood, the seasonal American cuisine restaurant housed inside the historic Reliance Building and home of newly the re-concepted Alise Hotel Chicago, recently appointed a new executive chef, David Fingerman. Allison and I were so kindly invited to a private media dinner to preview the new menu concept created by Chef David and his team. I came in tow with my fellow blogger gal, Erika.
Nominated for “Best Chef-de-Cuisine” at the 2016 Jean Banchet Awards, Chef David was most recently executive chef at Graham Elliot’s acclaimed bistro in the West Loop. Interestingly enough, David has worked at the Atwood before, so this is essentially a homecoming for him.
I had eaten at Atwood a few years ago, and I was delighted to find that the space had been totally renovated and updated. The old look was colorful and busy, with the bar in the corner, but the new space is completely sleek and modern. The restaurant takes advantages of the floor-to-ceiling windows and allows for lots of light. It was the perfect setting for dinner inside on an oh-so-glorious summer evening, while looking out onto bustling Michigan Avenue.
Using spring’s finest local ingredients, Chef David was eager to share with us many of his new and exciting dishes. I began with a light and refreshing cocktail from their menu, the sinesi maxima, made with Tito’s vodka, grapefruit, lemon, amaro Montenegro and St. Germain. It was absolutely delish. Little did I know that each course would accompany a wine pairing, which was even more delightful.
Our first few courses consisted of some wonderful light bites and appetizers, including a parsnip soup with asparagus and black olive oil, morcilla with a ramp aioli, egg yolk cream, and asparagus, and my favorite, a beet toast with goat cheese and pistachios on sourdough.
When the entrees rolled around, I was in absolute awe. First was a halibut topped with American caviar, and served with Parmesan gnocchi and an arugula creme. This dish was fantastic, and the wine with this course paired perfectly.
The second dish was a coffee rubbed filet with a parsnip puree, which was interesting and fantastic as well. The coffee intensified the flavor of the meat and complemented the red wine nicely. The overall favorite of the table, though, had to be the spoonbread. Made with honey butter, lardo, and dehydrated corn, this dish was absolutely heavenly and comfort food at it’s finest.
Dessert and coffee followed, a sweet finish to the incredible meal. The Atwood is so much more than just a hotel restaurant. Elegant and inviting, it is the perfect spot for post-work cocktails, dinner dates, and brunch, which I am looking forward to checking out in the near future. Chef David’s reconcept of the menu is fantastic and it very cool that he has returned to the Atwood to bring a fresh take on things.
1 W. Washington St.