SEE FOOD: L2O

By Anthony Todd in Food on Nov 30, 2012 5:00PM

L2O has been one of the great restaurant emotional roller coaster rides of recent memory. After all the pre-opening hype, they received three Michelin stars days after chef Laurent Gras walked out. The next year, they lost two of those stars amid rumors of decreased quality. Today, L2O is on their way back up, at least if stars and reviews are to be believed.

Chef Matthew Kirkley has kept the focus on seafood but moved away from Gras' original Asian inspirations (though the bathrooms still look like a Japanese luxury airliner) to a French style that is refreshingly free of powders, foams and gels. Check out the difference - compare these pictures with a photoshoot we did there in 2009. It looks radically different. Don't get us wrong, the presentations are still innovative and beautiful, but they rely more on interesting dishes and quirks of service.

Silverware is never allowed to touch the table, thanks to a series of small planks on the table that move around from course to course. Simple looking dining carts are scattered throughout the room, spare and rectangular, but they end up resembling Mary Poppins' handbag - more and more things just keep coming out of them. This theme carries through to the newest dish, the final Mignardise, which resembles a series of nesting dolls. The dish comes out as a simple box with some sweets on top, until it opens and opens and opens again to reveal an entire array of bites to finish the meal.

L2O isn't for the faint of heart or thin of wallet. The standard tasting menu is 12-14 courses and costs around $200. Take a look at some of the dishes they have to offer - we dare you not to be hungry for seafood.

L2O is located at 2300 N. Lincoln Park West.