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Photos: This Might Be The Most Exciting Pop-Up Dinner In Chicago

By Anthony Todd in Food on Mar 28, 2016 2:19PM

Pop-up dinners are one of the best ways for diners to get to know new, rising star chefs and try some really great food. But unlike established restaurants, pop-ups don't have regular staff, reviews from critics or even many Yelp reviews. How can you tell which pop-ups will be awesome and which will be a total mess?

The answer: Just go to Claudia. This pop-up dinner series from Chef Trevor Teich takes place a couple of times each month (sign up for their email list or keep an eye on the website for times and dates) and absolutely blew me away.

In many cases, dishes at pop-ups are interesting, even progressive, but somewhat unfinished —which makes sense, since usually they are the product of a younger chef experimenting and finding his technique. Not at Claudia, where Teich's dishes are just as developed as those at any fine dining spot in the city. This shouldn't be a surprise, since he's done stints at some of the most refined restaurants in the area like L20 and Acadia. And it's consistent —Fooditor had an amazing experience at the winter version of Claudia, and I just tried the Spring menu.

My favorite parts of Teich's menu are his fully-formed edible landscapes. Take "A Day at the Beach," a dish which features spot prawns and oysters as its main components. In many restaurants, this plate (which looks exactly like a somewhat messy sand dune) would have two edible bites—the fish—and a lot of show. Not here; pretty much the entire thing, including the tumbleweeds and the driftwood, is edible and delicious. Similarly, a course of "Snails in the woods" (which features, unsurprisingly, snails) comes with edible dirt, leaves, flowers and all the rest.

My other favorite part of Claudia? Surprisingly, it's the relative lack of dessert. Many multi-course fine dining experiences features three and four courses of sweets, and while some may appreciate the ensuing diabetic coma, after two hours of eating fancy food, I'm usually in the mood for just a couple of bites of sugar.

Tickets for Claudia's April 3 dinner, as well as other dates in the Spring, are still available. Dinner costs about $150 per person, it's BYOB and gratuity is not included.