Best bargain Michelin chef

Critics' Picks

Danny Grant, Balsan

11 E. Walton
312-646-1400

balsanrestaurant.com

We don't know why chef Jason McLeod left right after Ria, the fine-dining restaurant in the Elysian Hotel, won two Michelin stars. We don't even know how good Ria is—it looks a bit posh and drowsy for us. What we know is that Ria and its peppier sibling, Balsan, have the exact same kitchen and staff, including now executive chef Danny Grant, a veteran of North Pond. Which means Balsan is effectively serving two-star Michelin food at way below the going rate. Kudos to them for not dumbing down the lower-priced spot but knocking out sumptuous wood-burning pizzas topped with Pleasant Ridge cheese, tangy artisanal hanger steak, and Stephanie Prida's dazzlingly light-fingered desserts at such welcoming prices. —Michael Gebert

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