Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Zed 451 – Our Next Safe & Sound Dinner!

My sister Alivia just moved to Chicago, and we decided to go out for dinner and headed south on Clark Street to Zed 451.

It was a Monday evening around 7ish and Zed 451 was already hopping. The crowd varies from friends meeting for a casual drink to dinner parties for Chicago’s elite business moguls. The atmosphere is warm and inviting as wood is prevalent throughout the restaurant with fireplaces and large groups of candles strategically placed to be seen from almost any vantage point.

Alivia is a vegetarian (or pescatarian, she eats fish) with lactose intolerance, what is she going to eat at this American-style Brazilian Steakhouse? Our waiter promptly greeted us and our concerns soon diminished when he informed us, “You came to the right place, let me get the chef to walk you thru our dishes.” A few minutes later Chef Patrick Quackenbush, was at our table and took us on a tour of each dish. I just love when a chef is excited about his food and restaurant; Chef Patrick had such a passion for helping allergenistas. He explained how the entire restaurant is switching to gluten free soy sauce even though it costs multiples of what its gluten filled counterpart costs.

Ok, on to the food, the restaurant is set up very similar to a Brazilian steakhouse. They have table side chefs that bring the proteins and slice the meat fresh at the table. Their harvest tables are so much more than a typical salad bar. Both Alivia and I went up twice to make sure we tried everything. Chef Patrick is not afraid of experimenting with flavors, every dish was bold and robust.

Some of the dishes we tried include:
Quinoa Salad with Rosemary Grapes, Almonds, Oranges, Cucumber and Sherry Thyme Dressing – This dish was colorful mix of white and red quinoa with bites of sweetness, a lovely pairing

Jicama and Sun dried Cherry Salad – This dish had Bell peppers, ginger, cilantro, parsley, green onion and cabernet vinaigrette – The jicama added the crunch to this delicious salad, I really enjoyed the combination of the ginger and cilantro along with the sweet and sour taste from the sun dried cherries.

Fresh Asparagus with Fire Roasted Red Peppers and Shallots with a Dijon Citrus Dressing – This dish was grilled perfectly, with the perfect amount of smokiness, lovely, just lovely…

Everything at Zed 451 is fresh and vibrant; In addition to the salads, there is a large selection of roasted vegetables, cheeses and cured meats; there really is something for everyone.

Once you get back to your table with a plate of full amazing salads, it’s time for your protein. There are rocks placed in the center of your table, when you are ready to try protein dishes, you place your rock on the edge of the table. Then magically, table side chefs start to arrive with your choice of beef, venison, duck, sausages and fish including salmon and tuna. I really appreciated that all our table side chefs were aware of our dietary restrictions and knew every ingredient in their dish.

We had to make a conscious effort to talk during this dinner as I noticed the dialogue was mostly mmms and ahhs. In fact, Alivia said this was the best meal she has had since she was in Italy last year. I haven’t been to Italy, but would agree Zed 451 is a “must visit” restaurant.

I am proud to announce our next Safe & Sound Dinner will be at Zed 451 on Tuesday, August 24th from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., we only have limited seating, so I encourage you to make reservations early, the price is $50 per person. The dinner includes:

- A meal free of the Big Bad 8 and gluten (please email me if you have additional restrictions)
- Great company from some of Chicago’s hippest allergenistas
- Words from Chef Patrick about food allergies and Zed 451
- A gift bag filled with allergen free swag (almost worth the cost of the event)
- An opportunity to give 10% of the ticket price to your favorite food allergy charity
- Dessert from SWIRLZ Cupcakes – Chef Jerry is working on a special flavor just for us!
- Tax and gratuity included

Hope to see you there!
Click here to register

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