Sunday, November 27, 2011


After finding myself a little perplexed by the limited number of Michelin starred restaurants on Chicago's 2012 list, I made a reservation at the one star rated, Courtright's to get my bearings, but after enjoying a five course degustation this evening, I wasn't sure that I had gained any more clarity about the ranking criteria than I possessed before. 

According to Michelin, stars reflect "what's on the plate and only what's on the plate". The five criteria restaurants are judged on are: quality of ingredients, skill of preparation and combination of flavors, level of creativity, value for money, and consistency of culinary standards Other criteria, such as d├ęcor and service, do not affect star ratings. 

Undoubtedly, a city girl like me would naturally prefer to dine in an urban space akin to Blackbird, Naha, or Schwa more than a venue touting suburban predictability, but according to the criteria I should be focused on the plates and not the twinkling Christmas lights in the garden or the heavy handed water colors on the walls.

And the fare was both memorable and dependable. I wouldn't qualify our meal as unexpectedly creative, but I can't imagine a diner being disappointed with a meal at Courtright's. These days, highly praised meals are often cooked in immersion circulators or treated with liquid nitrogen; Chef Bacle's honest and classic cuisine is a refreshing throwback to timeless cooking techniques. 

We cleaned our plates.
Seriously, I wanted to pick the boar bone.
That's telling.
We watched children meet Santa Claus.
(The jolly man even stopped by our table)
We ate chestnuts, prunes, and too many truffles.
Apple biscuits with cinnamon ice cream made for a perfectly comfortable dessert.
In the end, I even liked the glowy garden lights.

Before we knew it, we found ourselves wrapped up in an unfamiliar brand of suburban coziness and left feeling full and comfortable and warm. I've decided to let that happy suburban feeling serve as a reminder that comparing restaurants is basically pointless. Who needs clarity when it comes to feeling comfortable? 

Courtright's star shines brightly because of the genuinely welcoming nature of their dishes and the consistency and care of a capable chef.
It is as simple as that.
 Escargot Tart, Foie Gras, Truffle Vinaigrette, Balsamic Reduction, Chicory
 Wild Boar Chop with Gin Sauce, Prune Puree, Roasted Onion
Roasted Partridge with Jus, Chestnuts, Quince Puree, Cabbage and Black Sasuage

8989 Archer Ave
Willow Springs, IL

1 comment:

Andrew R. Schultz said...

So surprised to see this review, but good for you for making the trek. I've had many a company part/dinner at Courtwrights... it's a couple of miles from my office!

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