Two years ago, chef Jake Bickelhaupt convinced his wife, Alexa Welsh, that they should open up their home to strangers for dinner. So began Sous Rising, one of Chicago's most popular underground dinners.
Now, down a flight of stairs from their Uptown apartment, the couple has replicated the underground dinner experience in a tiny storefront: 42 Grams only seats eight to ten people, either at a long chef's counter or the giant communal table. If you like watching the pros cook, this is the place for you.
Bickelhaupt's tasting menus ($204 per person) transcend cuisines, but Japanese influences are visible throughout. A pristine piece of uni sitting atop a circle of brioche with hints of soy, maple syrup and yuzu tasted like an gush of sweet sea water. A single perfect nigiri of Skuna bay salmon with sea grape and trout roe, according to Bickelhaupt, was meant as an homage to Charlie Trotter (who once said that his ideal last meal would be "raw, delicate seafood off china plates") and has spoiled us for all other sushi.
Uni with brioche, yuzu and maple
Whimsical touches abound: What looks like a flower arrangement is in fact the "bread" service, comprising an intense parchment made of Vidalia onions, a puffed fish chip and a kale-flax chip. A salad filled with herbs replaces roasted beets with a beet macaroon. Here dessert starts early.
Not everything is complicated, though. A simple soup composed of nothing more than potato, butter and milk, served as a dipping sauce for an array of chips and pea shoots, is exactly what we want after every hard day.
42 Grams isn't completely booked for the next few months--yet--but trust us, once word gets out, vacant seats will be impossible to find.
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