Into The Wind
Even fairytales contain less magic than the story of Chicago’s Iliana Regan. Once upon a time, there was a front-of-house server at a string of the city’s most celebrated fine-dining establishments (including Trio and Alinea) who also happened to love upscale cooking by sustainable and organic means. After honing her adopted craft through a series of dinners given out of her Andersonville apartment-cum-private kitchen, the self-taught chef thumbed her nose at the wicked Ugly Critics who laughed at her inexperience and lack of professional training by opening her own fully-fledged restaurant, Elizabeth, in Lincoln Square this past September – with herself on the roster as head chef.
With a foraged-focused philosophy not unlike that of Noma’s Rene Redzepi, Regan offers three tasting menus (via advanced ticketing system) in her dining room of white-washed walls, rough-wooden communal tables and earthy accents – the gastronomic-focused, 22-course ‘Diamond’, 14-course, woodland-inspired ‘Deer’ and the farm-to-table, 10-course ‘Owl’. Each is typified by contemporary cooking techniques and peppered with self-scavenged wild plants and game, and curious course names like ‘terrarium’, a dish made up of edible malt soil, pickled elderberries and preserved rose petals. It’s a pricey affair, and even more so if you choose the wine pairing option developed by sommelier Scott Noorman, but with Regan’s wild imagination and an already burgeoning fan-base, this fairytale come true makes for an exceptionally interesting woodland sojourn. When you wish upon a star...