|ruffle cardigan||–||Bebe (similar)|
|bracelet||–||The Limited (similar)|
|ring||–||family heirloom (similar)|
|earrings||–||Nordstrom Rack (similar)|
|necklace||–||The Limited (similar)|
You may recall that the last time I featured this dress I emphatically declared that it was the perfect dress to wear to a nice, big dinner. I’m happy to report that I was right. A few weeks ago this dress got its chance for a night out, and what a night out it was. I took it to El Ideas, a Michelin starred restaurant in Chicago’s Douglas Park neighborhood, for a night of decadence.
Before we get to the food, lets talk fashion. This is one of those perfect dresses that can be transformed with the right accoutrements to fit any season. As I was poking through my closet, wondering what to wear this evening I spied this ruffled cardigan I nabbed at Goodwill years ago and knew they’d pair wonderfully together. You can never have too many ruffles or too much flair, I say. Plus, this cardigan is a winter favorite of mine because it’s nice and thick and warm.
I decided to keep things cool-toned for this look, pairing my ruffly cardigan and dress with glittery silver accessories, including an heirloom ring from my grandma, and a vintage silver clutch.
Shop the look:
But enough about the fashion. Let’s talk about the food.
This was our second trip to El Ideas, and they were both stellar evenings. The restaurant is small, only seating something like 20 – 30 people in a night, and you book the whole thing as an experience. They sit you down, give you a wine opener (it’s BYOB) then proceed to feed you 12-15 amazing courses. Many of them are new takes on old favorites, like pot pie or steak, and all of them are gorgeously plated and exquisitely prepared. The preparation is also part of the experience–the dining area is open to the kitchen and you’re encouraged to head back and talk to the chefs and watch them making and plating your food. We took this opportunity by the horns and spent the interim between each course sipping wine and chatting with the chefs about what was coming out next, often trying to guess what they were meticulously tweezing onto each plate.
My photos don’t capture the entire experience and every course (though I did post each course on my Instagram now feed that night, in case you’d like to follow along) but they do highlight the best of what we experienced.
On the right you can see the first course in preparation. It’s a quail egg on a bed of white creamy sauce and popcorn.
Here’s the finished first course with caviar and a dried flower on top. It was served without silverware. Foss, the owner and head chef, informed us that he wanted our meal to feel like an informal dinner party, and beginning with licking the plate was a good way to set the tone for the evening. We happily obliged him.
On the left, an oyster course with creamed spinach and pureed squash, amongst other tasty morsels. On the right, wagu beef cooked perfectly and served simply. It was the best steak I’ve ever tasted by a long shot.
As hunters and midwesterners, my husband and I were happy to see this venison course come out. It was extremely tender and juicy for venison.
Among my favorite courses of the night was this shake, prepared with a dry iced topping that smoked when mixed in with the rest of the shake, which we did at the table. Foss told us that the shake was meant to evoke the taste of dipping french fries in a frosty at Wendy’s. They had put bits of crispy fried potatoes in with the the shake, which was based on parsnips of all things, and it was maddeningly good.
Above and below we have a trio of desserts: lemon tart (the one thing we had that night I wasn’t overly fond of), deconstructed sweet potato pie (stupendous), and meat pie with candied fruits (quite good). We left feeling full and happy. It was well worth the price tag.