Graham Elliot Bistro, GEB / Chicago

Dining at a celebrity chef’s restaurant can be exhilarating, or incredibly disappointing.  For a Sunday lunch at G.E.B. (Graham Elliot Bistro), my dining partners and I experienced the latter.

We arrived right at open and were greeted with the inviting aroma of a promising hearty breakfast.  Biscuits graced the open line and the smell of bacon wafted into the air.  Seated right away on the trendy back patio, Michael and I awaited our third dining guest, Kyle.  Ordering a coffee, orange juice, and sampling of breakfast pastries to tide us over, we looked over the menu.

Our waitress arrived in spurts, and this continued throughout the entirety of the meal.  Sometimes she was attentive, most times she was not.  We often waited over ten minutes for a water refill, and were rarely greeted by the same server.

Our breakfast pastries certainly got us excited for the rest of the meal, though.  Chocolate zucchini bread, cherry pots de creme, cheese scone, and cornbread were each individually delicious.  The zucchini bread was soft and moist, conjuring up memories of something a thoughtful grandmother might make.  The whipped cream on the pots de creme was good enough to be eaten alone, and I certainly took advantage of that fact!  Once Kyle arrived, we eagerly awaited our entrees.

Ten minutes later, a salad that we had chosen to split arrived.  Crisp romaine was topped with a yogurt dressing, golden raisins, and pistachios was entitled the “gem” salad.  Unfortunately, we all thought it was quite the opposite of a gem.  The dressing left a bitter taste in our mouths and the pistachios were smashed, leaving them almost impossible to be picked up by a fork.  There were also a few bits of asparagus, but those were sliced in such a strange way that it seemed like they weren’t even there!

Finally, twenty minutes later our entrees arrived.  I opted for the three egg skillet, as did Kyle.  Farm eggs topped with black beans, salsa roja, and avocado, I was a little disappointed to find that the black beans were under cooked and the flavors, surprisingly, didn’t go together.  Instead of complimenting each other, they seemed to compete, leaving the dish to feel a little jumbled.  The plate of homestyle potatoes had the same effect, biting into some potatoes that were raw.  Michael, diving into the rabbit hash, fared similarly, commenting that many of the vegetables accompanying his rabbit were raw pieces of zucchini and carrots.

Having all fell in love with the Parmesan-truffle oil popcorn indulgence at Graham Elliot’s even smaller scale place in the loop-Grahamwich, I was accepting the same caliber of delicious food for breakfast.  I would like to say that maybe it was a case of ordering the wrong thing, but considering we sampled one of each category, I would say it was a case of bad representation.   I am sure Graham Elliot is a wonderful chef, and can put out a great meal, but I certainly did not see it at GEB.


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