With executive chef Jonathon Sawyer at the helm, Adorn Bar & Restaurant gives a jolt of new energy to the renovated Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.
Adorn’s lobster and spaghetti “Joe Beef” style celebrates one of Montreal’s great restaurants—as well as, notes chef Jonathon Sawyer, “East Coast freezing-cold water, Canadian lobsters, great bucatini and just a little bit of cognac and cream for good luck.”
Imagine an evening at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, and the most elegant of experiences comes to mind—think polished service, stunning presentations and exquisite offerings, all delivered in refined, reverent surroundings. But stop into Adorn Bar & Restaurant, the hotel’s new dining space post a very stylish multimillion-dollar renovation, and it’s immediately clear that something surprising has happened: With DJs and live jazz, a thumping bar scene and unsurpassed people-watching, the Four Seasons has become one of the hottest spots in the Gold Coast.
Adorn’s bar scene buzzes.
Part of it is the genius new configuration of the dining room, where a smattering of tables ring the room, with loungey vignettes of seating at the center, perfect for see-and-be-seen A-listers to do just that while sipping lead mixologist Kristine Schranz’s craft cocktails (try Hot Nights in the Ciudad, a bewitching concoction of Libélula tequila, Ancho Reyes, tamarind, lemon, ginger, angostura and smoke). But the real star of this restaurant? It’s new executive chef Jonathon Sawyer, the James Beard Award-winning toque, who has returned to Chicago from a celebrated stint in Cleveland and is turning expectations on their head with a rollicking menu that’s somehow both Four Seasons-haute and hugely approachable.
Cured for a day, confited for a day and dried for a day with sauce from a Nevisian butcher’s recipe from 30 years ago, these are no mere chicken wings.
There’s bites of A5 Miyazaki beef with Japanese tare ketchup, tendon butter and twice-cooked suet potato (aka the Tater Tot of your wildest dreams); trout roe smorrebrod with dill pollen and clotted creme fraiche atop a seeded cracker by Publican Quality Bread (Sawyer goes way back with Publican honcho Paul Kahan); a Caesar salad with triple-garlic Parmesan anchovy dressing and addictive crispy parsley; a decadent take on famed Montreal resto Joe Beef’s signature lobster spaghetti that I can say from firsthand experience stands up to the original; and on and on—often presented with a charismatic flourish and an entertaining story by the chef himself. And pastry chef Juan Gutierrez’s ethereal desserts? Don’t get us started. Needless to say: So far, so good. Sawyer concurs. “The reaction that we’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive… but more importantly, in terms of energy and attitude and cohesion, it really doesn’t feel like a new restaurant at all to me, let alone a new restaurant in a storied building on a storied address in a huge city.”
The restaurant’s irrepressible executive chef, James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer.
As for what’s coming next, as Sawyer and team settle into place: more, more, more. The comparatively restrained dinner menu will add up to 10 new dishes; and Sawyer will soon unveil a second food and beverage concept, the Social Lounge, which will offer what he describes as “beautiful, individual theatrical dishes”—think caviar and burrata, and a Cloud Gate foie gras presentation hydro dipped in edible silver leaf to replicate The Bean in Millennium Park—in the hopes of enticing even more guests of the hotel to experience just a taste of Adorn. If Sawyer keeps this up, how can we resist? 120 E. Delaware Place, adornrestaurant.com
Photography by: HAAS AND HAAS PHOTOGRAPHY