4. EL Ideas
2419 W. 14th St.
- Chef: Phillip Foss
EL sounded like a terrible idea. An expensive experimental BYO that might as well be called Dinner Party with 18 Strangers on a Dead-End Street, run by a chef on whose talents we have never been sold, a guy who breezes in and out of the totally exposed kitchen and invites diners to help with preps? Pass, thanks. But over the course of a choreographed three-hour procession, Foss and his tiny staff convert all doubters. EL has one seating a night, one set menu, and one vision. Thirteen courses, gorgeous and intricate, often playing off familiar foods like bagels and s'mores, are interspersed with layered sensations like shima aji (a Japanese version of amberjack) with fish roe, dried and smoked tuna, and tapioca. Not everything works, but full access to the creative chefs certainly amps up the experience. This is a kitchen beholden to no one. The only things potentially limiting EL are ingredients and imagination, and at the moment, both seem boundless.
¢ … under $20 | $ … $20 to $29 | $$ … $30 to $39 | $$$ … $40 to $49 | $$$$ … $50-plus