Fancy multifork fine dining is the name of the game at Chicago’s Four Seasons Hotel, but Allium dials the formality down a notch to offer a casual, small-plate outlet that still keeps the lake views, museum-quality contemporary decor and exemplary service standards intact.
The food categories on Allium’s seasonal farm-to-table menu can be confusing, but the pricing helps clarify each group. The Smaller section consists of appetizer-size plates in the $10 to $17 range; think tasty offerings like bison tartare and lamb Bolognese-mint gnocchi. Nuts, deviled eggs and olive nibbles are just $3 to $5. Hungry patrons can opt for the Bigger choices such as Wagyu short-rib sliders ($15) or a Wisconsin walleye ($25). The best (and perhaps the most delicious) meal deal may just be the Chicago-style hot dog ($14). Listed in the Mine category, this juicy, giant all-beef frankfurter is too good to share with elevated toppings like balsamic ketchup, beer mustard, relish, jalapeño peppers and mini heirloom tomatoes aside a brown paper bag of crispy, hand-cut fries.
The intriguingly flavored ice creams (sesame, Asian pear and pomegranate, caramelized parsnip and others; three scoops for $8) and tea selections offer additional incentives that lure well-heeled locals in for afternoon treats. And it’s hard to resist slurping the last salty-sweet drop of the miso butterscotch milkshake ($5), even in this swanky setting.