When Graham Elliot Bowles worked as the executive chef at the Peninsula Hotel restaurant Avenues, he was clearly oppressed by the man. Now that he’s free at this, his eponymous concept, waiters no longer bound by suit and tie rock the dining room in their best blue jeans and Red Chuck Taylor Converse lace-ups. Crazy costly crystal and porcelain have been shelved for a “blank canvas” of huge round IKEA plates. The restaurant’s sound system features a bevy of indie and emo tunes and original compositions from Chef Bowles instead of staid muzak.
Though there’s a casual streak in the mood of the place, the dining room, with its copious amounts of brick and timber, is an elegant dark wooden womb. The lighting changes with the season (orange in the fall, green in the spring, etc.) as do the fruit displays on the wall.
One thing you could never say about the food at Avenues – which included foie gras milkshakes and pop rock-laced Rice Krispies – was that it was boring. Still at this new spot, by featuring Cheez-It infused risotto, Budweiser bubbles and blue cheese foam, Bowles has turned up the tongue-in-cheek factor to 11.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant