Food & Drink

Modernist munching in River North

It's easier to take risks when you're part of a larger operation -- you can work on alternative energy if you're part of BP, or safely heckle a mime if you're part of an angry crowd. Remaining bold outside the nest: graham elliot

Lodged in a brick-walled, wood-beamed 18th century warehouse, GE's the ballsy solo effort from America's youngest-ever 4-star chef, who gained his rep for stunt cuisine (foie gras w/ Pop Rocks, etc) while backed up by the cred of Avenues. His eponymous new spot also plays it risky, with dishes like the ode-to-WIS Aged Cheddar Risotto (w/ Pabst-glazed pearl onions, Granny Smiths, bacon "dust", & Cheez-Its), a Signature Caesar w/ brioche "Twinkie" croutons (themselves stuffed w/ Parmesan cream cheese), and a Grilled Rack of Pork served w/ collards, grits, white peach chutney, and rootbeer bbq sauce (Barq's-b-q?). GE's also monkeying with their cocktails, serving up a deconstructed Bloody w/ horseradish cream, micro celery, Worcestershire powder, and tomato-vodka sorbet, and a Piña Colada w/ coconut-milk panna cotta, dark rum ice, grilled Hawaiian pineapple, and a pineapple Fruit Roll-Up -- only exceeded in trade value by a foie gras Lunchable

Riskiest of all: the chef's pumping in his own upbeat acoustic tunes, and plans collaborations w/ musically-inclined employees in the future -- because it's easier to take a sitar solo when you can blame the idea on the busboy.