January 9, 2008

Table Fifty-Two

We sure love Oprah, don't we. Fashion, books, health, gadgets, and now presidential candidates' whatever she touches turns to gold. So it's no surprise that her personal chef's restaurant, Table Fifty-Two, is usually booked solid for months.

Just walking into the one-room space is an experience by itself. Clad entirely in cream-colored oak paneling, the restaurant bears 13 white-clothed tables on hickory wood flooring. Chandeliers hang from a copper-tin-embossed ceiling. Massive copper lamps hang over the marble slab bar, and the smoky smell from the rustic oven is utterly intoxicating.

Despite all this stately display, the menu is quite approachable, full of familiar-looking dishes that provide a pleasantly unexpected flavor. A sizzling skillet of parmesan cheese biscuits arrives just after you sit down, arguably the best part of the entire meal. Starters include a fried green tomato napoleon 'with goat cheese, greens, smoked bacon, and tapenades'and an arugula salad bringing together pears, crumbled blue cheese, and champagne vinaigrette. Chef Art Smith works his magic both in and out of the kitchen, personally pampering guests and serving up entr'es like pistachio-crusted chicken breast, catfish with braised mustard, and ancho chile-crusted Berkshire pork chops. Finish the meal off with the Smith family's twelve-layer chocolate cake. Hmm' somehow, I don't think that last dish is on Oprah's diet plan.

The wine list is a bit pricey, even for Oprah's standards, so I'd suggest holding off on that. Otherwise, the dining experience is divine, fit for a queen.

Table Fifty-Two ($$$$): 52 W Elm St; 312-573-4000
Tues ' Sat: 5:00 p.m. ' 10:00 p.m.
Sun: 4:00 p.m. ' 8:00 p.m.
Street parking difficult
Public trans: Bus # 22, 36, 70, 156 or Red Line (Clark/Division)


2 comments to Table Fifty-Two

  1. "Top Chef: Chicago" Has an Art Project
    May 5th, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    [...] Art Smith is a talented chef and author originally from Florida. He was personal chef to Oprah Winfrey for ten years and is co-owner of the prestigious restaurant, Table Fifty-Two. [...]

  2. "Top Chef: Chicago" Walks Down the Aisle
    May 12th, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    [...] Table Fifty-Two [...]

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