These are the second dog days of Avenues.
After two weeks touring the South—Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee—I drove north to Chicago. Before collecting my sister from her summer program at Northwestern, my family stopped downtown for dinner. Alinea stands at the center of Chicago’s dining scene—since 2005, Grant Achatz has trained a legion of “modernist” or “molecular” culinarians, all of whom share a common aesthetic lexicon. Visit Michael Carlson’s Schwa or Curtis Duffy’s Avenues and the food seems a logical extension of the “Alinea school” (which owes much to both The French Laundry and El Bulli). Duffy will leave Avenues sometime in September to open his own restaurant; Avenues lost Duffy’s predecessor, Graham Elliot, to a similar wanderlust.