Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

My dinner at ZED 451

We always try to get out and have a nice dinner sometime during a con, if possible. The Hyatt Bistro restaurant is very convenient, but it's boring to eat all the meals there. We might have gone to Stetson's as we have done at previous Chicons, but they were closed for renovations, so I began tolling the Internet for interesting alternatives.

Checking first for cuisine's similar to Stetson's, I was shocked by what I found. What passes for a "chop house" in downtown Chicago has prices that put fine dining restaurants in other cities in the shade. One might not quibble overmuch at $54.00 for a steak—if that were for a steak dinner—but it's not. That's JUST the steak. A baked potato on the side is $10.00 extra. So is a salad. So is soup. Given that I'm not a subscriber to the whole "dry-aged beef" fetish, I looked elsewhere.

Elsewhere turned out to be ZED 451. They have one of the most fascinating menus of any restaurant I've seen. (You can see it here: http://www.zed451.com/pdf/ZED_chicago_dinner.pdf ) Moreover, the "ZED Experience" at $48.00 per person is a great deal. (Of course, tax, drinks, desserts, and tips are not included, but that's the same anywhere--.) The service is a modification of the "Brazilian" or Churrascaria style. At ZED 451, you first visit the "harvest tables," which are loaded down with two soups nightly, a dozen salads and vegetables, ceviche, deviled eggs, rare cheeses, several types of charcutrie, artisanal breads, and spreads (truffle butter!). When you are ready for meats, the chefs come round with small cuts on skewers, and you can sample as many, and as much as you want. Meats on offer Sunday night included several cuts of beef, Moroccan chicken, pork belly with hoisin sauce, salmon, red deer venison, leg of lamb, swordfish, and breast of duck with amaretto and pistachio. Between us, we sampled some of everything, but I think the staff was disappointed at how little we ate. However, we were saving room for desserts, and needed it, since the servings of banana cream "pie" (actually more of gateau--) and chocolate bombe with ice cream were ample and delicious.

The restaurant has an impressive wine list. I sampled the red wine 'flight' and found it very nice. (For non-foodies, a "wine flight" is a sampling of a number of wines for a single price, often paired with meal courses.)

The staff was friendly, cheerful, and helpful. One of the particularly nice perks about ZED 451 is that they have a free shuttle that picked us up at the Hyatt and delivered us back there after dinner. Not only did that make getting there and back low-stress, it makes the meal an even better deal since you save on cab fares.

Everything we had was delicious and of the highest quality. Georgie pronounced herself delighted by it. Highly recommended, we would definitely go there again.
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Tags: food
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