Roister was one of the most anticipated and celebrated Chicago restaurant openings in 2016. Grant Achatz & Company’s new endeavor provides more casual – and affordable – access to experiencing the culinary brilliance of the chefs in the Alinea Group. We sat down at the Chicago hot spot, and this is our Roister review.
Location and Ambiance
Roister is located on Fulton Market, right next door to two Alinea Group powerhouses: Next and Aviary. The atmosphere is dark and noisy, but still comfortable. The restaurant is centered around the hearth, an open area where the chefs prepare most of the dishes over an open fire. To me, the most notable aspect of Roister’s atmosphere was the music, which, as I noted to my husband, could have been taken straight out of any of my personal playlists; hearing Johnny Cash and Dr. Dre within minutes of each other only enhanced our experience and created a relaxed vibe.
In order to dine at Roister, you’ll need to have your credit card ready to make a reservation. If you’ve dined at any other Achatz’s restaurants, you’ll be familiar with the process, except at Roister, you aren’t required to pre-pay the full cost of your meal, unless you opt for the Prep Kitchen/Chef’s Tasting Menu option. The amount you pay for your reservation depends on where you’d like to be seated for your dining experience. If you’d like to sit at the hearth countertop, where you can watch the chefs prepare, cook, and plate the meals, you’ll have to put down $35-$45 per person on the reservation (depending on the time and day). To be seated at any other table in the dining room, there is a $20 per person down payment required. If the thought of paying before you actually get to taste anything makes you uneasy, take comfort in the fact that your payment is fully applied to your total dining bill. If you’re still uncomfortable with the concept, reservations for lunch are free!
There are two “must try” dishes that were recommended to us: the Whole Chicken & Chamomile, and the Foie Gras dessert. We tried both, and we were not disappointed.
But before indulging in those dishes, we started with the hushpuppies (shown in the above section) and wedge salad (above). Both were unique in their own right: The hushpuppies mirrored elotes (served with crema, corn, and cheese), and the salad was certainly not your typical wedge salad (the dressing sets it apart).
The Whole Chicken & Chamomile was presented/cooked in 3 different ways: poached, braised, and fried. And the dish comes with all three versions. The chicken retained amazing moisture and flavor, which created an absolutely phenomenal dish. It certainly earned and maintains its status as a “must try!”
For dessert, the foie gras was a no-brainer (noting that even if it wasn’t recommended, it would be incredibly rare for me to pass up foie gras in any form)! Served as a candy bar, the foie gras, topped with marshmallow, walnuts, and pretzels, then wrapped in chocolate and was AMAZING. I can’t remember if I shared with my husband, as I was suddenly transported into a fatty duck liver-induced state of euphoria. As an aside: my California friends, I truly am sorry foie gras isn’t readily available to you. Again, a 100% must try for anyone who enjoys foie gras, and even those who may be new to the game.
Roister Review and Overall Impressions
Top our meal off with a great bottle of red wine, and you have a spectacular meal. Roister lived up to the standards the Alinea Group continually sets for itself. It is truly a great way to experience a culinary adventure at a decent price point and in a relaxed environment.
Roister. 951 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, Illinois.
Amanda is our Chicago Foodie Correspondent. Every month, look for her restaurant reviews of hot spots primarily in Chicago but also wherever her travels take her!