Now that former Tru Executive Chef Rick Tramonto is focusing on his restaurant in New Orleans, Phil Vettel says it's now new chef Anthony Martin's time to shine and awards him four stars: "Martin's kitchen produces plates so visually stunning they compete with the room's Yves Klein, Andy Warhol and Peter Halley artworks for attention.
Among the larger plates, the star dish is Martin's lamb loin. Beautiful, full-flavored lamb, of course, but dear Lord, the plate! Noodles of thickened asparagus puree snake across the surface like well-tended vines, curving to form little circles that a waiter fills in with spoonfuls of lamb jus. Decorated with more curvy greens — pea shoots and fava beans — the dish is an art nouveau still life, foodie style. [Tribune]
On the other end of the star spectrum, Heather Shouse pans Aquitaine, and gives it a mere single star: Chef-owner Holly Willoughby spent four years cooking at David Burke’s Primehouse, so she’s worked with quality product. And yet she sent out mussels that shouldn’t have been served; they were too small, too shriveled and just teetering on the edge of freshness. She also sent out a hanger steak ordered medium-rare with not a touch of pink left to it, and soaked through with so much honey marinade that it edged toward dessert. I get that a cook is not a baker and that sourcing desserts might have seemed like the best option, but unfortunately, like the rest of the meal here, it just felt phoned in. [TOC]
David Tamarkin revisited Bucktown's Las Palmas and said now that chef Armando Gonzalez has taken over the kitchen that vegetarians and vegans should consider him a hero: Not only does the guy have a rare vegan entrée permanently on his menu, but the most delicious item among his fall offerings is the vegetarian Enchayotadas. That dish, corn tortillas stuffed with softened vegetables (pictured), has a jalapeño-tomatilla salsa that is excruciatingly habit-forming. Long after the vegetables are gone, you’ll find yourself scraping the plate with anything you can find: tortillas, a spoon, your companion’s finger. [TOC]
Finally, Kevin Pang liked Chizakaya so much, he hopes it doesn't go the route of other izakayas that have quickly come and gone in Chicago: The 13 kushiyaki offerings (grilled on a stick, $3 each) was where the izakaya strutted its stuff. Beef cheeks had the sweetness and texture of Korean bulgogi. Charred cubes of confit octopus were unfathomably tender. Chicken gizzards had fine flavor — though the rubber band texture might cause offal novices to recoil. What Chizakaya is, in the end, is what's needed in our city's anemic casual Japanese landscape. Let's hope it doesn't meet the fate of its predecessors. [Tribune]