Chef turns classic dishes on their heads

ABC7's Hungry Hound has discovered a new restaurant in town where you'll recognize the classic names of some dishes.

But what you see and taste will be utterly unique.

We all know what a Caesar salad is, or how rice krispy treats should taste. Or do we? A young chef who made his name at the Peninsula Hotel has now struck out on his own.

In many cases, creating new dishes based on the principles of some well-known American staples.

Chef Graham Elliot Bowles doesn't care to be conventional. In fact, at his new namesake restaurant - graham elliot - he turns several "classic" dishes on their heads.

"What I like to do is have a reference point for people to be able to see things that they've heard about or that they know, and that way they have a measure of how we're different," said Bowles.

Take the Caesar salad for example: a swath of anchovy spread is painted on a plate; stalks of romaine are brushed with the same spread, then individually coated in freshly-grated parmesan. A few anchovies are draped across the lettuce stalks, then instead of traditional croutons, he makes a "twinkie" of sorts, stuffing brioche croutons himself, then adding them to the plate. His "buffalo wings" are similarly transformed.

"We've taken those same flavor elements, but we've created a slaw of celery root, celery, celery leaf and celery seed. We've seasoned it up and made a little cream of the bleu cheese, as well as our homemade buffalo sauce...We crisp up a boneless chicken thigh and then we lacquer it in that buffalo sauce, place it on top the slaw and finish it with some Budweiser bubbles," said Bowles.

An immersion blender does the trick, turning a can of Bud into a frothy foam. For dessert, Bowles offers spice krispy treats: tiny mounds of strawberry and rhubarb rest beneath rice krispy treats that are spiced up with the addition of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg; a few quenelles of condensed milk sherbert are added to provide a creamy contrast.

"I think with cuisine, just like any art, is very expressive and always going down new roads and it's always exciting, so this is what we're doing now. It's what we're having fun with," said Bowles.

Another twist on the familiar is the first thing that hits your table. In most restaurants, it's bread and butter. At graham elliot, it's lightly spiced popcorn.

graham elliot
217 W. Huron St.

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