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Chefjw.com :: Critic's choice :: Chicago Magazine, May 2003

Chicago Magazine, May 2003
"...A dessert dazzler -- the chocolate and peanut butter dome with praline ice cream - is rather like the dining room itself: a seamless combination of graceful curves and high-design details."
Best New Restaurants 2003: Aria
Chicago Magazine, May 2003
By Dennis Ray Wheaton

"International comfort: sounds like an oxymoron these days. But that's how executive chef James Wierzelewski, who has cooked in restaurants from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, describes his culturally divers food at Aria. Cognac-marinated and orange-glazed foie gras terrine with cardamom jam and duck confit doesn't just comfort, it coddles-as does a Normandy variation on French onion soup made with smoked chicken, Camembert, and apples. Globetrotting palates get pampered with entrees such as Osaka black cod under a glaze of soy and sweet mirin, Malaysian shrimp and jasmine rice baked in a banana leaf with ginger and lemongrass, and suckling pig with gnocchi. Homespun indulgence abounds in the smoked prime rib with potted onions and zinfandel-braised beef short ribs with crayfish ragout and celery root mash. Aria is a glowing $2.5 million earth-toned makeover of Entre Nous done by Lieber-Cooper Associates (this design firm also did Spiaggia's face-lift). And a dessert dazzler -- the chocolate and peanut butter dome with praline ice cream - is rather like the dining room itself: a seamless combination of graceful curves and high-design details.


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