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Kramer Rips on the Pump Room; Zemans Raves About Great Lake; More

The Pump Room
The Pump Room
Photo: images courtesy of Public Hotel

Julia Kramer is not afraid to share her thoughts on one of this year's most anticipated restaurants, the Pump Room. From the start she questions Ian Schrager's choices of lesser known Bradford Phillips as chef and Kady Yon as pastry chef after her desserts "were slammed" in previous reviews. Most baffling to her, however, was the appointment of Billy Dec as a "consultant" described in Kramer's footnote as "the dude whose name (fairly or unfairly) tends to appear often in the context of the words douche bag, the walking fashion hat who’s as attached to his smartphone as he is to his celebrity/athlete friends/clients." Contrary to Schrager's statement about this place being "inclusive" rather than "exclusive," Kramer waits 45 minutes after being quoted 90 minutes and thinks it's "kind of a bitch to get into." On the positive side of things, she finds the place "fabulous-looking...remodeled with a perfect balance of reverence and imagination." It seems "the place to be right now" and "in that sense it's a success."

Unfortunately the cocktails are geared towards "how we drank in the 90s" and how much you love dessert will correlate to how much you dislike Kady Yon's interpretations, including her "warm cookie plate disaster that resembles a bad box of Christmas cookies." She thinks the main menu is executed well, "this is Jean-Georges food, and Phillips is executing it without flaw," but some dishes are "compellingly elemental" and she finds most of them to just be "perfectly okay." The weiner schnitzel, one of the tribute dishes to the old Pump Room, is so off that it actually comes off more as a backhanded fuck you, a genius way of reminding guests just how far this restaurant has come." [TOC]

Daniel Zemans thinks that "if you meet someone who has eaten at Great Lake and they do not tell you they had one of the best pizza of their lives, it's probably in your interest to not listen to another word that person has to say about food." He finds the quality of the pizza "remarkably consistent" and that Nick Lessins shows "a remarkable degree of creativity that few pizzaiolos can match." Although the toppings are "good and innovative" it's the crust that receives most of the praise. Zemans describes it as "crisp, crunchy, and chewy, and is both yeasty and salty, while emitting a slight sourdough tang. It's not just one of the best pizza crusts around, it's among the best pieces of bread in Chicago." [Slice]

Mike Sula ponders the enigma of the number 23 as he dines at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse.
He also wonders, do we really need another steakhouse in Chicago? He finds "MJ's is definitely a place for visitors" although "certain things that meet the owner's approval are, in fact, pretty good." The 45-day dry-aged Delmonico steak is "indeed a marvel, a buttery, mineral-rich slab of bloody muscle" and "the "Colossal" crab cake is nearly all crustacean, no filler." The blue cheese fondue garlic bread is "one of the most gloriously self- destructive expressions of garlic bread he's ever encountered," and "you'll find yourself shrieking like an ape and clubbing your tablemates with a rib-eye bone to get at the uneaten pieces." The portions, like at most steakhouses are "mammoth." Sula appreciates the use of local products like Black Dog Gelato, Pinn-Oak Ridge lamb, and Prairie Fruits Farm cheese. Overall he finds a place where the vibe is a lot less ostentatiously sceney than other recently opened steak houses, populated as it is by well-behaved tourist families, weary traveling businessfolk, and couples on date night, the women quietly indulgent, the men quietly awed by implied proximity to Number 23. [Reader]

Great Lake

1477 W Balmoral Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 773 334 9270