Elizabeth restaurant will close for good just before Christmas, marking an end for a Michelin one-star dining experience lauded as among the most important of its time.
The Lincoln Square restaurant’s final dinner service will take place Dec. 22, just over one year since chef Iliana Regan announced her official departure from the restaurant she opened in 2012 and named for her departed sister.
Foraged ingredients and a wonderland-like magic served as foundations for Elizabeth, where diners were treated to as many as 20 beautifully plated, thoughtfully crafted courses at a time.
In 2020, Regan sold the restaurant to longtime collaborator Tim Lacey, with whom she first worked at Trio, an Evanston restaurant known for launching the careers of esteemed Chicago chefs such as Regan and Grant Achatz.
“Cooking is something I want to be doing until the end of time,” Regan told The New York Times in 2020. “But I definitely don’t want to be 55 years old and running Elizabeth.”
Lacey, who got his start as a bartender at Trio, went on to manage bar programs at The Drawing Room and Green Zebra before landing at Kitsune, Regan’s second Chicago restaurant, in 2017.
After Elizabeth’s closure, Lacey plans to open a new restaurant in the same space at 4835 N. Western Ave. in January. Atelier will offer a fine-dining tasting menu, a spokesperson said. The restaurant’s website notes that chef Ian Jones, who has been at the helm of Elizabeth’s kitchen for almost three years, will be leaving the restaurant.
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“Chef Regan left behind a pretty big legacy and there aren’t many people who could have replaced her as successfully as Chef Jones has,” Lacey said in a statement posted to Elizabeth’s website. “We’ve been very lucky to have him for the last couple of years.”
Atelier will continue to honor Elizabeth gift certificates, season tickets and rescheduled reservations when it opens, the statement noted.
Under Regan, Elizabeth was celebrated as one of Chicago’s best restaurants, winning a Michelin star every year since 2012 and three stars from Tribune critic Phil Vettel. Three years ago, Esquire named it one of the most important restaurants of the 2010s, and both chef and restaurant have enjoyed James Beard award nominations, Chicago media accolades and adoration from fans both old and new.
Regan went on to open Kitsune, a Japanese-influenced restaurant in North Center, and Bunny, a short-lived but much-adored microbakery in Lakeview. She continues to create dishes that pay homage to both nature and fairy-tale elements of whimsy at Milkweed Inn, a bed-and-breakfast retreat nestled in the forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula she opened with her wife, sommelier Anna Regan.
The chef also penned a 2019 memoir, “Burn the Place,” which went on to become the first food-focused book recognized by the National Book Awards since Julia Child won in 1980.
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