Ria—Best New Restaurants
In the luxurious Elysian Hotel, Ria proffers serenity in dining.
Elysian Hotel, 11 East Walton Street; 312-880-4400
Remember when Tru opened in 1999 and we jammed its phone lines for months, then tripped over one another to declare it a modern classic? Ria isn’t like that. The Elysian’s upscale splurge opened quietly last December, and if you picked up the phone right now you could probably have any table you wanted. Pick up the phone. Ria is destined for greatness. The details are all in place, from the striking décor and polished service to endless gifts from the kitchen. (Free macarons filled with foie gras? Unheard of!) Servers push around a giant wheel of 36-month-aged Comté, and the sommelier bends your ear about the weekend he spent with the vintner who made your wine. Most important, though, is a dedication to challenging flavors and presentations. Jason McLeod, a veteran of Four Seasons restaurants, is still experimenting with the menu, but he’s hit his stride in the poached lobster/Osetra caviar combo with cooked celery and intense blood orange sauce. You’ll see omens of future brilliance in the beautiful squab with sweetbreads, Savoy cabbage, and lemon: an intense four-star experience. I suspect it won’t be long before the rest of Ria is at the same level.
TIP: Keep the bread guy close at hand. You’ll want a constant supply of homemade baguettes to soak up the remains of each plate.
PRICE KEY: ¢ $10 to $19 $ $20 to $29 $$ $30 to $39 $$$ $40 to $49 $$$$ $50-plus
[Cost per person for dinner, excluding wine, tax, or tip]
Photograph: Anna Knott