February 25, 2016

I first experienced Allium, located inside the Four Seasons Chicago about a year and a half ago when Chef Stephen Wambach was first making his mark. I loved the space and fresh food, so I was beyond excited to come back and see how things progressed since.

I stopped in with fellow foodie Erin of 312Food for a weeknight dinner in the cozy dining room. Allium is the type of place you can easily spend hours just enjoying a glass of wine and good conversation. Toward the end of the night it was difficult to remove myself from my spot near the warm fireplace and my oversized leather chair.

Chef Wambach stopped by to point out some of his favorite items on the menu, which happen to include dishes that tend to stay on the menu throughout the seasons. One of those dishes is the tuna crudo with passion fruit, black truffle, and parsnip. Not only is this dish beautifully plated, it has the intense aroma of truffles. Each precious bite was luxurious as the tuna melted in your mouth.The parsnip chips added a salty and crispy contrast to the tender fish.

Four Seasons Chicago
Tuna Crudo with Black Truffle, Passion Fruit & Parsnip

One of the most eye-catching items on the menu is the cheese lavosh. While you might be saying why order a side of bread? This is not your average flatbread. Allium changes the toppings seasonally and ours featured spinach and a blend of bubbly and crispy cheeses. It's brought to your table on a hook with a plate below to catch the crumbs. Step aside KIT KAT, I want to break me off a piece of that cheese lavosh! It's certainly a crowd pleaser, and once one table orders it, the rest follow based on its appearance alone.

Four Seasons Chicago
Cheese Lavosh
For our main course, Erin and I decided to share two entrees, the lobster cassoulet, and the housemade gnocchi. (Side note: the kitchen was kind enough to split our entrees and desserts, so my photos are of half portions, in case you're wondering.) The cassoulet was studded with fresh lobster meat, chanterelles, clams, and white beans which were revealed after breaking through a blanket of lightly toasted breadcrumbs and herbs. I loved the richness of the mushrooms balanced with the light lobster. It was the perfect amount and very well-seasoned.

Four Seasons Chicago
Maine Lobster Cassoulet with White Beans, Chanterelles, Clams & Herbs
Allium offers three handmade pastas including gnocchi with veal ragu, maitake mushrooms, and black pepper ricotta. The pasta is heavier on the potato than flour, resulting in a lighter, fluffier pasta. I loved the heartiness of the ragu, but thought it was a tad too salty. Luckily the velvety-smooth ricotta made up for it.

Other chef-recommended entrees include the seared scallops, poached grey snapper, and dry-aged duck breast.

Four Seasons Chicago
House Gnocchi with Veal Ragu, Maitake & Black Pepper Ricotta
If you're a sweets person like me, then you're in for a treat at Allium. Executive Chef Scott Gerken's sweets menu is extensive, featuring several cakes, shareable bites including brownies, and dulce de leche macarons, housemade ice creams and sorbets, and milk shakes. Talk about sweetness overload!

Ultimately, we decided on the chocolate toffee pudding cake with maple bourbon ice cream (!), tangerine pomegranate sauce, candied pecans, and Asian pear. Despite its appearance, the cake was actually fairly light and spongey. I wanted more of an intense chocolate flavor, but loved the tart balance from the pomegranate arils and tangerine pomegranate sauce. The ice cream was creamy and smooth with just a hint of bourbon.

Four Seasons Chicago
Chocolate Toffee Pudding Cake with Maple Bourbon Ice Cream
Lastly we split the Nutella milkshake. I can't imagine drinking an entire one by myself so I was happy they split it for us into two cute mason jars. This was one of the thickest milkshakes I've ever had, and I mean that in the best way. I'm pretty sure I could have tipped it over a la a Dairy Queen Blizzard, and the milkshake would have stayed in place. Allium also offers an intriguing miso butterscotch milkshake which I saw a nearby table demolish. Next time, that's at the top of my must-try list!

Four Seasons Chicago
Nutella Milkshakes
Allium is the type of place that makes you forget you're right at the center of Chicago's hustle and bustle, a mere seven floors below. It's a warm and inviting space with excellent service, but would you expect anything less from The Four Seasons? I highly recommend enjoying a leisurely meal, whether breakfast, lunch or's a wonderful way to unwind!

Note: my meal at Allium was complimentary; however all opinions expressed are my own.

Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
120 E. Delaware Place
Chicago, IL 60611
Allium Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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