L2O Restaurant

Overall Rating: 6.700

Address: 2300 N. Lincoln Park West
Cross Street(s): W. Belden Ave.
City, State ZIP: Chicago, IL 60614
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Phone: 773.868.0002
Hours: M 6pm-11pm; W-Th 6pm-10pm; F-Sa 5pm-11pm; Su 5pm-9pm
Type of Establishment: Restaurant
Cafe Rating: 7.00
Barista: 6
Savvy: 7
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 8
Consistency: N/A
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating: 6.40
Aroma: 7
Body: 5
Brightness: 6
Crema: 7
Flavor: 6
Taster's Correction: 1.0
Size: L
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Intelligentsia
Cup Manufacturer: Stefanie Hering-Berlin GmbH
Price: $4.50
Last Update: 04/18/2009
First Reviewed: 04/18/2009
Notes: None

Esquire Magazine named this place (new) Restaurant of the Year in 2008. While that much is up for debate, there's no question this is a serious dining establishment. More to the point, unlike many restaurant peers, this seriousness extends all the way to their coffee service. Located in the Belden-Stratford Hotel across the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chef Laurent Gras has resurfaced here. (In 2001, he served as Executive Chef at SF's Fifth Floor and was named Chef of the Year in San Francisco magazine for 2002.) The restaurant models itself as a sort of inventive, high-end, and expensive seafood restaurant, but that's limiting the menu a bit. (They do tend to go crazy with gelée with nearly every course and an occasional odd use of marshmallow nouveau.) White tablecloths, multiple servers (who are fun rather than stuffy), and the only restaurant we've seen with a Clover machine. They offer Intelligentsia for Clover and espresso use, using Black Cat Espresso (also available as decaf) from a two-group La Marzocco in the back service area. With it they produce a thinner, textured layer of medium-to-dark brown crema. The body is thinner as well - related to the larger pour size. It has a mostly pungent flavor with no smokiness. Served in Hering-Berlin porcelain cups. A serious attempt at a restaurant coffee program, but it still leaves significant room for improvement.