L20 chef Laurent Gras' raw-fish preparations, featuring monstrous domes of Osetra caviar, gold leaf flecks and expensive mushrooms, are so luxuriant that you may never be able to eat regular sushi again. The same can be said for his meat dishes, as his pork belly, bathed in truffles and glazed with duck fat (and sporting the crispiest skin around) is so good that every time you eat a simple slice of bacon, you'll be left wanting more.
Everything at L20 is a function of attention to detail, unbridled creativity and a refusal to bow to convention. The cocktails feature house-made bitters and spirit infusions. The best bread service in Chicago features housemade pan au lait, bacon twists, anchovy croissants and demi-baguettes, served with house-churned butter (a half-orb of the stuff comes hanging upside-down).
Even the space, which features soaring ceilings, dividers made of tension wire and body-hugging white leather chairs, is an improvement on the current luxury-restaurant convention of converting cramped brownstones and former residences into dining rooms.
There's not even a pastry chef on staff. Gras and his savory team whip out deconstructed riffs on citrus, including frozen coconut air, rum cured pineapple, jalapeno topped orange squares and pineapple shaved ice.
Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant