Chicago has recently been named "the centre of gastronomy" by none other than chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli, the world's most famous experimental restaurant. Here are half a dozen reasons why.

Graham Elliot Bowles trained with the cream of Chicago's chefs and now serves his playful take on modern avant-garde American cooking at Avenues, The Peninsula Chicago, 108 East Superior Street (001 312 573 6754;, where the menu includes squab pigeon with truffle, turnip and huckleberry.

The black and white dining room at Blackbird, 619 West Randolph Street (001 312 715 0708;, provides a minimalist backdrop to daring creations such as baby octopus confit with braised chestnuts.

Charlie Trotter kick-started the Chicago fine-dining scene when he opened his restaurant 17 years ago at 816 West Armitage (001 773 248 6228; The 15-course Kitchen Table menu features "spontaneously" created Asian-influenced dishes such as Muscovy duck.

Bring your own bottle to Schwa, 1466 North Ashland (001 773 252 1466; schwa, for Michael Carlson's innovative food, including cauliflower soup with curry and chocolate.

Formerly private chef to Oprah Winfrey, Art Smith has gone public at Table Fifty Two, 52 West Elm Street (001 312 573 4000;, where his organic creations include "ancho chile-crusted" Berkshire pork chops.

The Autumn Collection at Tru, 676 North St Clair Street (001 312 202 0001; features chef Rick Tramonto's sarsaparilla quail, and pastry expert Gale Gand's apple confit with pine nuts, rosemary and spiced cider caramel.