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The Early Word on Roister, The Alinea Group's Boisterous New Restaurant

Guests are digging the fine dining-quality dishes in a relaxed setting

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Matthew Gilson

The long wait for Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas' latest project finally came to an end earlier this month with the opening of Roister. The restaurant is a big departure from the pair's other acclaimed fine dining spots, offering a rustic-yet-refined menu in a casual, boisterous environment. Here's what diners think so far.

The Good: As expected, Andrew Brochu is delivering top-notch dishes. On Twitter, Michael Nolledo loves the bowl of beef broth with beef cheek and tongue and calls it "heaven," while Jeff Tetrault apologizes to his mom on Instagram because the restaurant "makes a better lasagna" than she does. The smoked oysters are also "to die for," according to Charles Hetzel on Facebook.

The most popular item on the menu seems to be the whole chicken that's braised, poached and fried to perfection. The Tribune dubs it "OMFCG Oh my fried chicken God," and it's served with a sunchoke hot sauce that "PACKS THE MOST PERFECT HEAT," Annie Hu writes.

The Bad: Not everyone is as impressed. Angelo L.'s Yelp review says some dishes have "unbalanced flavor profiles," such as scallop crudo with too many "overpowering spices" that mask the mollusks' "freshness." Likewise, the foie gras dessert is muddled "because of all the other sweet components." Service is also slow, with cocktails taking "very long to arrive," although he praises the drinks for having "unique tastes." Cindy G. agrees on the "lack luster [sic]" service, stating that "no one [on the waitstaff] seemed to have direction."

The Experience: The food is "still beautifully elegant and precise" despite Roister being more casual than Achatz and Kokonas' other spots, Gina B. writes. "You can wear shorts and a [T-Shirt] and feel comfortable," according to Brian Gore, while Sunil D. says the atmosphere "really elevated this experience." He enjoys the ‘90s playlist and remarks that "everyone seemed to be having fun." Brian Kim is not a fan of the music though, calling it "all over the map and a little too loud."

The Wait: While most of the tables are booked through Tock, the restaurant still accepts walk-ins. Sunil D. advises diners to not be intimidated by the "3 week wait" as he was able to put his name on the wait list and receive a text with a "prompt reservation time."

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951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 789-4896