Last week we told you about the upcoming collaboration between Claudio Aprile and Curtis Duffy, a preview of the latter’s highly anticipated Grace restaurant in Chicago and a look at where the former hopes to take his flagship Colborne Lane. Over two evenings, the chefs tantalized the palates of food aficionados and industry folk in a culinarily ambitious and visually striking nine-course menu that gave diners a taste of what was to come for both projects. It also showed off the difference in the approaches between the two chefs.
“Having a Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen brings up the energy level,” Aprile told us, “Healthy competition and professional pride pushes us to be on the top of our game.” Although the courses were described in detail, diners were left in the dark about which chef was responsible for each creation, leading to a bit of a guessing game. Most of the ingredients were sourced locally, although we were told that some of the herbs Duffy used were difficult to find (like the root beer–flavoured hoja santa). Closer inspection of the menu pretty much revealed the answer to the seasoned culinary sleuth, however: while both chefs list the key components of their plates separated by plus signs, only Duffy’s dishes highlighted the main herb featured in all-caps (his menu-writing signature).
Diners familiar with Colborne Lane’s dark, dramatic atmosphere were surprised to find the room had been refreshed with a new coat of white paint. After the dinner, Aprile told us, the room will undergo a complete overhaul: the wall that currently divides the dining room from the front bar area will be knocked down, the bar will get a lot smaller and the big communal table will be removed entirely. The Bradley Denton design will feature a front lounge area that will extend from the entrance down two-thirds the length of the current bar, resulting in a much more intimate dining space.
As for Grace, partner, general manager and sommelier Michael Muser shared wtih us a couple updates on the Chicago restaurant. Located at 623 West Randolph, the space will cater to under 80 guests, and despite being nearly 5,000 square feet, a majority of it will be taken up by the kitchen, an impressive room that’s being custom-built by Quebec’s Sani Metal Ltd. Having arrived only the afternoon before the dinner, Duffy and his crew agreed that they were more confident with the dishes presented on the second evening. Check out the entire stunning menu from the second night, and some behind-the-scenes moments, in our slideshow.