That's how Travel & Leisure begins the slideshow of their selections for the 50 Best New U.S. Restaurants.
They also laud L20, a "neo-Modernist seafood temple where Laurent Gras proves that he might be the most commanding chef in the country." The service is "gracious, unstarchy", and the tasting menu is "masterful" and "weds Gallic rigor and opulence to Japanese skill with raw fish." The adjectives used are evocative and almost sensual, describing the food as delicate and voluptuous and the space as suave and plush.
That glowing recommendation is immediately followed by Urbanbelly, the affordable BYO Korean spot headed by Bill Kim and tucked in a strip mall way on the north side. The restaurant serves up "ethereal squash pockets" and "roasted duck purses scented with Vietnamese pho spices."
Next up is Perennial, which is trumpeted for its "breezy glamour." Chef Ryan Poli, a Chicagoan who's returned from a stint in Spain's top kitchens, is said to have "the intelligence and restraint to distill cutting-edge concepts into relaxed, market-driven American fare."
The final Chicago selection in this quartet of heavy hitters is The Publican. The meat-lovers favorite is praised for its "huge list of global microbrews" which are "complimented by ... devilishly clever noshes." The reviewers' comment about the restaurant's boudin sausages accompanied by salamander-crisped grapes should make any Chicagoan beam with pride.
"When you see this dish copied all over the world, just remember: it came from Chicago."