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  The brainchild of Chef/Owner Phillip Foss, EL Ideas’ mission statement is to ‘redefine fine dining’. By removing pretension and preconceptions from the fine dining arena, Michelin starred EL Ideas has carved a niche that separates itself. A small BYOB restaurant in a little known Chicago neighborhood, guests can enjoy a relaxed and unique setting not generally associated […]

Cauliflower – Bottarga / Anchovy / Hyssop

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This might be my personal favorites of the “Uh oh, we need to get another item on the menu stat!” series. Usually this happens when an integral ingredient becomes unavailable.  In this case – as in the previous post – the versatility of cauliflower saved the day. As opposed to the sensuous nature of the […]

Ossetra – Quail Egg / Cauliflower / Lime

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Not all of our ideas work. I had been doing a version of crab with caviar, lychee, and lemongrass which had been getting good reviews from guests. The crab and lychee made good sense to me, but I wanted to see how the caviar would hold up to it without the unctuous crab. In short, […]

Benton’s Ham – Fontina / Butternut / Cocoa Nibs

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This course came to me on a Sunday afternoon while suffering on the couch with a 104 degree fever. Though I had no desire of thinking about food and tried pushing this idea out of my head, I knew that it had legs and would hit the menu. I brought the ham in from Benton’s in Tennessee […]

Sardine – White Eggplant / Tomato / Piperade

San Sebastian Sardine / White Eggplant / Zucchini / Tomatoes / Piperade One from the vault that was on the menu during the summer shortly after we opened. A couple of others from shortly after we opened I just ran across on the hard drive that will be posted soon.

Raw to the Bone

For those of you not interested in hearing about my silly life and thoughts, you can see the cuisine in other posts and details on EL Ideas in the sidebar on the right. April 8, 2012 Riding the train on the way to Milwaukee mid afternoon. The girls are with their mother and it is […]

Still Life – Snails / Royal Trumpets / Black Garlic

Still Life – Snails / Royal Trumpets / Black Garlic

This course made a brief appearance on our menu. And although it was very enthusiastically received, I never really sunk my teeth into it (metaphorically speaking). The idea was born out of asking whether snails are from the water or the land. From there I formulated the idea of creating the dish as a setting. […]

Black Sea Bass – Salsify / Onion / Sherry Vinegar

black sea bass

This photo was taken back in January by one of our diners and I just stumbled across it while looking for something to post. Black sea bass was very gently poached in a beurre fondue seasoned with sherry vinegar. Salsify enters in three variations: cream, braised with pearl onions and sherry vinegar, and as the […]

Smoked Char Roe – Katsuobushi / Tapioca / Coconut Milk

Smoked Char Roe – Katsuobushi / Tapioca / Coconut Milk

As always, if you are here looking for information on EL Ideas, please see the sidebar on the right. A couple of other notes before getting into this post:  The last couple of dishes I’ve posted have been of items currently on the menu. That is going to come to an end as I have […]

Apple – Peanut / Bacon / Parsnip

Apple – Peanut / Bacon / Parsnip

This course began as a pre-dessert and was first introduced on the evening of our second Anti Restaurant Week engagement. The idea for this was born from my favorite personal snack and one that has kept me fed throughout all of my travels: Granny Smith apple smothered with Skippy peanut butter. From the time I was a […]

Gin & Juice

EL Ideas

Before getting into the post, for those of you landing here to find out information about EL Ideas, please see the side bar on the right. For those interested in the post, continue on down… With my mind on an oyster and an oyster on my mind. It is startling to me how many of […]

Spanner Crab – Smoked Char Roe / Cucumber / Grapefruit


As far as I know, spanner crab is the only pre-cleaned crab meat that arrives at the door in a raw state. Coming from the waters around New Zealand, they feed off shrimp and scallops take the ocean floor and take on those characteristics in flavor. As the meat comes in raw, we have more […]

EL Ideas – Press Release: Changes to Reservation Process

The below is probably the longest one paragraph ever took me to write. Is it any wonder I’ve all but buried F.U. Public Relations Company and am giving a go with Restaurant Intelligence Agency? Now that I’ve come out of denial that just because I’m pretty good at making news doesn’t really say that I’m good […]

Pata Negra – Cana de Cabra / Espelette / BLiS Elixir

This preparation started out simply enough from our friends at Mercat a la Planxa who were kind enough to bring us some shavings of their Pata Negra when they came in to dine with us. We loved it so much that we decided to get a ham ourselves to see where we could take it. Though […]

Anise Hyssop – Brussels Sprouts / Pecans / Sprecher Root Beer

There are many places that inspiration for a new dish is born, but for myself, this is the first time that one was born out of a dream. What makes it more unusual, is that it is rare that I remember dreams in the first place… and if they are ever involving food, it has […]

Anti Restaurant Week in Review

One evening a couple months ago, I posted an update on Twitter that I was enjoying a pot pie that had been spiked with some fresh black truffles that were gifted to me. It was about 1am, but the taste of the comfort food combined with the luxurious aromas of the truffle was enough for […]

EL Ideas – Thoughts on the Departure of Chef Andrew Brochu

Since opening EL Ideas in July of 2011, there is plenty to reflect upon and I have not been diligent about logging it. From the collaboration with the ultra talented Andrew Brochu, to the closing of the food trucks (already relayed), to personal trials and tribulations that have been deep (to put it gently), and […]

Cuisine at EL – Selections from 2011

Haricots Vert / Black Garlic / Bee Pollen (Brochu)

The Rise and Fall of Meatyballs

This post began as a take on the food truck movement as a whole, then segued into a breakdown of my business and personal strengths and shortcomings.

2 Variations on Skate

Skate Carrot Puree Purple Carrots Veal Heart Amandine – Brown Butter Powder / Almonds / Lime / Parsley Quince Puree Chanterelles Charred Parsnip Meuniere – Brown Butter Powder / Lime / Capers / Parsley

It’s So Good I Could Lick the Plate…

It must be noted that the idea of plate licking came from Bill Talbott, our dining room manager. It hasn’t been often in my career that culinary inspiration comes from the front of the house, but Bill has now contributed to two separate courses.

Rooibos – Pumpkin / Pear / Pomegranate

Gingerbread Rooibos Custard (tea from Rare Tea Cellar) & Aromas Kabocha Squash Puree Brandied Pears Pomegranate

Spanner Crab – Chorizo / Coconut / Cilantro Root

Spanner Crab / Avocado / Coconut / Chorizo / Heart of Palm / Macadamia Nut / Thai Guava / Cilantro Root / Taro

Chicken Liver – Huckleberry / Onion / Oaxalis

Fried Chicken Liver Caramelized Onions Emmenthal Huckleberries Apples Oaxalis