The newest restaurant in the West Loop is Claudia, which occupies an elegant, second-floor space in a high-rise office building. There are only five tables (2886), even though the spacious room could hold several more. And the restaurant is BYOB, though Claudia has stemware for whatever you might bring. I recommend Champagne.
The BYO status helps reduce the impact of the $185 dinner price, but that includes 10-courses, plus a couple of bonus tastes. Chef/owner Trevor Teich has cooked at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, and his cuisine is at a very high end.
The meal begins with Teich’s bento box, a four-bite sampler with a seafood theme. That tiny round nugget is tuna wrapped foie gras, and elsewhere there’s a scallop cracker with dots of egg-yolk confit; a soft beignet with caviar; and a pair of squid-ink madeleines.
And here is Teich’s crab lasagna, although the caviar-topped pasta sheets are actually made of geleed passionfruit puree, the crab meat is accented with pickled lemon, and the green sauce is cucumber puree.
Other courses include Snails in the Woods, with tempura-fried snails mixed with pine-flavored meringue and torn bread pieces infused with herbs; there’s more meringue, this time made with beets, supporting roasted squab with pickled blackberry jus.
This dish features a savory pumpkin panna cotta, topped with smoked trout roe, balls of cucumber and cantelope and a little bit of seaweed to add a briny element. And what’s called Pot-au-Pho is a play on a classic French dish with Vietnamese flavors, a culinary mashup with historic resonance.
Finally, this dish mimics the flavors of a cheese course, with a twist. It consists of poached apple, shards of goat-cheese meringue, and scoops of crème fraiche and bacon ice cream.
I give Claudia, 540 West Madison Street, three stars. Claudia hopes to have a liquor license by springtime, so I’d take advantage of that BYO discount while it’s still available.