There’s no question—Chicago has a rich dining culture, and people travel from all over the world to experiences its restaurants and local cuisine. With top chefs, sophisticated plates, and seasonal eats, Chicago creates a culinary adventure for its guests. Like most industries, trends come and go, and dining is no exception. Here are the top Chicago dining trends to indulge in now.
Designing the perfect plate, with the brightest, tastiest flavors comes from staying within season. By using the season’s freshest produce, you can improve the quality of the dish and feature ingredients in their prime. Chefs often work with farmer’s markets and local farmers to stock up on wholesome, healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables and humanely raised meat, eggs, and dairy.
There are even some restaurants that take this method a step further. For instance, our restaurant, the Albert, which is inside Hotel EMC2 in Streeterville in Chicago, integrates urban gardening into menu preparation, so guests can enjoy the freshest, purest ingredients possible, which are grown right on the roof!
By cooking root-to-stem, restaurants and chefs are helping to halt food waste and incorporate less “desirable” parts of foods into recipes. Instead of tossing out chicken bones or broccoli stalks, chefs are repurposing these scraps into brand new dishes to add flavor, nutrition, and complexity.
For instance, you can use chicken bones and scraps to make stocks, and you can use broccoli stems to add to smoothies, salads, or soups. You can also zest citrus to add tang to sauces, soups, and fish. And, leafy greens tops of say carrots or beets are great for making homemade pesto.
Even bread can be repurposed. You can use leftover bread for croutons and leftover cake for bread pudding. You can also compost your scraps for the purpose of using them as fertilizer, which can aid in gardening and creating even more fresh produce!
Getting to Know the Chef
Chicago is fortunate to have such amazing chefs in the city—those that are innovative, creative, and experimental in their menu exploration. And, each chef has his or her own personality, which often aligns with the restaurant’s overall story and ambience.
When dining in Chicago, take a moment to learn about the chef first, so you can really connect with the meal and experience. At the Albert, Chef Larry loves integrating global and seasonal ingredients to create a simple, yet sophisticated dish to appeal to guests. So, you can expect fresh seasonal produce and bold flavors.
As more people embrace eating more vegetables, chefs are introducing vegetarian entrées and complex, savory sides. Instead of serving a tired veggie burger, chefs are bringing richness and depth to veggie-centric plates. It’s not only healthy to get in more greens, but also delicious. Ingredients like miso, soy, toasted sesame oil, fresh herbs, kimchi, and sauerkraut, as well as intricate preparation which involves smoking, fermenting, grilling, or marinating, can help create a punch of flavor.
At the Albert, you can try Tempura Maitake Mushroom with Sour Peach, Nasturtium or Braised Eggplant with Sweet Soy, Bok Choy, Sesame, among others.
Interested in dining at the Albert? You can easily book a reservation.