Choose Between Two Options
- $150 for a summer tasting menu for two ($205 value)
- $250 for a summer tasting menu for two with wine pairings ($370 value)
The tasting menu at Acadia is an opportunity to try the restaurant’s inventive and acclaimed New American cuisine from Chef Ryan McCaskey, a nominee for the James Beard Awards’ Best Chef in the Great Lakes region for 2014 and 2015. Here’s what to expect:
Set aside a couple of hours for the experience. Depending on your dining style, the meal takes between 1.5 and 2 hours.
The menu is 5 courses, but you shouldn’t worry about getting full. They jump between the simple and complex, including multiple canapes, bread courses, and even a mid-meal snack. Everything has a purpose, though.
What’s so summery about it? “It is going to go back to my roots with Maine,” said Chef McCaskey. “Dishes that not only you would see in Maine and have ingredients from there, but also the feel of Maine.” For example, a recent dish was an interpretation of where the ocean meets the forest—not unlike the state’s Acadia National Park.
Acadia is named after the French colony that encompassed northeastern North America, a region that, fittingly, includes Maine. That’s the state where the restaurant's chef and founder, Ryan McCaskey, first emerged as a culinary force—at age 19, he was named sous chef and pastry chef at Goose Cove Lodge, which has earned acclaim from the New York Times and discerning local fowl.
After clocking time in other top kitchens, he eventually moved to Chicago and opened his own restaurant. However, McCaskey is still honoring the flavors of Maine—not to mention his own creativity. We've highlighted four things to look forward to at Acadia, which has earned a Michelin star for three years running.
At Acadia, diners who want a true experience can opt for a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings. But the team has another, more unusual offering up their sleeves: they may also pair particular dishes with more eclectic drinks to highlight certain flavors or realize a bigger picture. This lineup has included beer, sake, and craft cocktails mixed tableside—even nonalcholic beverages. “We’ve done tea in the past, tea with foie gras,” McCaskey said.
A neighborhood off the beaten path
The West Loop is known for its foodie scene, but McCaskey lives and works in the South Loop. “It’s quiet but close to everything,” he said, meaning the highways, public transit, the lake, and the McCormick Place convention center. McCaskey first saw the potential in the area back when Mayor Richard M. Daley was in office. “[He] wanted the South Loop to have this resurgence. He lived three blocks from here.”
An authentic Maine (or Acadian) lobster roll
McCaskey makes the roll using real Maine lobster. "It's flown out to the restaurant about every other day,” he said. When it arrives, it’s been out of the water for fewer than 24 hours. He then ensconces the meat in Maine buns that his childhood friend ships to Acadia by the boxful. To finish it, he just adds “a very small amount of mayonnaise, some lemon juice, some chives, and that's it."
A semi-open kitchen
You can’t see everything that goes on in McCaskey’s kitchen, where chefs sometimes use tweezers for scientific precision while plating the artistic courses. But you can glimpse some movement through the doorway. “We made the doorway all wood, so it kind of frames the action back there. ... I think it's exciting for people because they see that I'm there 99% of the time."