Now that the week's reviews are in, it looks as if Downtown spot Henri, sib to the boisterous Gage gastropub next door, has hit a home run. The restaurant has gotten high marks from nearly every critic that has stopped by and the comments online are equally flattering.
Calling it the "anti-gage," Phil Vettel has nothing but praise for the Millennium Park restaurant. "Executive chef Dirk Flanigan's menu similarly embraces the old and new, heavy on classic dishes but interspersed with modern touches. There is steak tartare, for instance, but Flanigan's coarsely chopped sirloin is subjected to cold smoking, giving the meat a surprise, smoky overtone. Topped with a raw quail egg, accompanied by Yukon Gold potato chips, this dish belongs on everyone's short list of excellent tartares." [Tribune]
While David Tamarkin thinks the prices are steep and the food is "hit or miss" at times, he was bowled over by the decor: Henri "is the most striking, most breathtakingly opulent restaurant to open this year. From the huge crystal chandeliers that hover near the ceiling, to the plush leather stools that line the bar, to every inch of wall space (covered in dark fabric in the dining room, and in alligatoresque leather in the bathroom), it’s a space you want to put your hands on, nuzzle up to, get familiar with." [TOC]
Is there anything wrong with hype? Pat Bruno thinks too much has gone to the Girl & The Goat's head: "Trying to get a reservation at a decent hour at this hot, hot restaurant on Randolph Street in the West Loop is a joke. Here's the thing: I don't appreciate being practically laughed at or given the silent treatment when inquiring about a suggested day and time for a reservation. (I say come January, you will be able to pick any time or day you wish should you care to eat there.)" [Sun Times]
However, far across town and on the Northwest Side, Bruno couldn't say enough nice things about The Portage, a neighborhood spot that brings a modern, eclectic l touch to this working-class enclave. Well, maybe save the fried chicken: "I got lost in its interpretation while wandering through the "Southern-style gravy" and the coconut rice. There was so much going on that my taste buds didn't know whether they were coming or going." [Sun Times]
Mike Nagrant took a trip down to Taylor Street, where he wasn't in fear of getting whacked at Davanti Enoteca, despite getting some wine spilled on his new white Pumas: "I was concerned however, that maybe affable owner, Scott Harris was on to me and wanted to let me know that maybe he didn’t like my pan of his Neapolitan pizza joint, Nella, a few months ago. To Davanti’s credit, they did everything right, offering another glass of wine and to pay my dry-cleaning bill, and even comping dessert. More importantly, they served up some damn good food. Which is to say, as long as the risotto is al dente and the pork belly crispy, you can spill anything you want in my lap and probably get away with it." [New City]