- The intimate restaurant features three long communal tables
- Twee objects like dried herbs, porcelain pitchers and statuettes grace the restaurant
- Mismatched chairs add to Elizabeth's eclectic nature
- Iliana Regan will be your chef for the night
- Regan added touches to bring nature in from the outdoors
- Diners can watch the activity in the open kitchen
[Photo: Tim Hiatt]
Elizabeth, the "new gatherer cuisine," communal dining spot from Iliana Regan is set to open Friday and if you haven't already gotten your tickets, you're running out of time. Regan, whose restaurant is the first in Chicago other than Next or Alinea to implement the ticket system created by Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz, said that October is nearly sold out and November just went on sale.
So who is Regan and why is she using a ticketing system? She is the former underground chef who gained acclaim while cooking out of her apartment under the One Sister moniker. She has worked at restaurants like Trio and Alinea, more in the front of the house, before moving on to focus on a successful pierogi business when she realized she wanted to open her own restaurant. As for the tickets, Elizabeth, named in tribute to her sister who passed away, is intimate and Regan offers only tasting menus that involve sometimes esoteric ingredients and intricate platings and wants to keep waste low.
Regan will offer three different-length tasting menus per night with one seating for each menu, hence the need to sell tickets to keep things on track and organized. She uses foraged, organic and sustainable ingredients in her dishes and, while she may use the same ingredients in different dishes, no dish will appear on more than one menu.
As for the menus, Regan organizes them into three distinct offerings. First, the Owl menu, the least expensive ranging between $65 and $95 (depending on ingredients) for eight to 10 courses, will be more rustic and feature farm-to-table platings. The next, the Deer menu, offers 12 to 15 courses for $125 to $155, with dishes influenced by "woodlands." Finally, the Diamond menu, is more of a gastronomic experience of 20 to 25 courses for $175 to $205. Wine, being paired by Scott Noorman, will be a separate cost and can be selected at the restaurant.
The sparsely decorated space features three wooden communal tables with mismatched chairs seating eight people at each, where each table will focus on one menu each night. Elizabeth has a minimalist, rustic, Shabby Chic feeling with found books, jars and colored porcelain pitchers on shelves with dried flowers and herbs hanging on the walls. Seasonal flower boxes along the front entry will showcase branches and dried flowers, often reflecting what's on the menu. The wide open kitchen in the back wil allow guests a first-hand look at the activity, not unlike what Phillip Foss does at EL Ideas.
And Regan does want to keep this somewhat of a neighborhood spot in the sense that she'll keep open one two-top every night for a walk-in, visiting friends, older folks who may not be hooked up online to buy tickets or someone who happened to poke their head in and was interested in what was going on there. Tickets are available, but going quickly, so don't hesitate and have to wait too long. Or you may have to go out into the forest and forage your own dinner.