Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Inside Track To Elizabeth—Fall's Hottest Restaurant

Shrimp noodle scampi, one of the new items set for Elizabeth's menu. (Photos: Jennifer Moran)

"I have a feeling that this will be up there with openings like Schwa and Alinea, as well as Noma (in Denmark)," said Scott Noorman of the forthcoming Elizabeth that's set to open in Lincoln Square in mid-September.

"In fact, I would say it's a melding of those three concepts," Noorman, who will act as wine director, added.

Elizabeth is owned by chef Iliana Regan, who used to do some pretty popular underground dinners at her North Side home. According to Noorman, she is adamant about foraging, and will use those products in her cuisine as well as produce from an onsite garden. Yes, in a sense it will be a farm-to-table concept, however, the most fascinating aspect of this new eatery will be its ticketing system that will be highly synchronized.

Oysters steamed on foraged juniper.

Noorman said Elizabeth will use the same system as Alinea and Next for three nightly seatings. There will be three tables that seat eight to 10 people communally, and each table will start at a different time with a different menu. When customers go to the website and click on the link for resos, they will be shown the three tables and the time each starts.

For example, at one table everyone will enjoy nine courses, while at the others, diners will feast on 14 to 25 courses. At the time of purchasing tickets, customers will be directed to include dietary restrictions and will be charged for food only with a 20 percent gratuity.

All wine choices will be made the day of reservation and paid for at the end of the meal. A bottle list will be available as well as a glass pour list, with also beer and aperitif options. They're also considering adding a champagne cart.

Similar to Schwa's service, there will be no hostesses or waiters; chefs will greet and serve diners.

"It's to be as close to having dined in her apartment when she was doing her underground thing, so it's important to feel like you are entering our home," said Noorman. "The kitchen is literally right next to the dining room with no barriers."

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