Pat Bruno says it really doesn't matter that Marcus Samuelsson isn't in the kitchen at C-House because chef Nicole Pederson holds down the fort just fine. "She is doing a bang-up job. And there is much to like about this version of C-House. The menu, though not as seafood-centric as it was when C-House first opened, does have enough going for it to hold your interest."
Bruno, who gives C-House two stars with this new review, likes how the room is set up, with plenty of space between tables, calling it "civilized." He sampled a variety of seafood dishes, and especially liked the Gulf grouper saying it "could not have been better or composed more elegantly. The fillet of fish, which was pan-seared to perfection, rode atop a sublime arrangement of risotto studded with pine nuts and chiles." [Sun-Times]
Bruno, however, didn't have as much fondness for Leopold. From the moment he sits down, he was annoyed the server merely explained that, with Leopold's small-plates format, two dishes could be plenty per person. "I’m not much for having a waiter give me a directive about how much I should eat." Grumpy much? He then goes on to tip his hat to the restaurant being a neighborhood place, but his "advice is don’t bother if you have to drive more than three miles." Ouch. He even bitched that the server asked if he wanted another beer. Instead he complained he wanted his food, which he took to task as well. "Then there’s the menu. It lists exactly a dozen plates and, quite honestly, the offerings, in an attempt to be cutting-edge, come off as cute and out on a ledge. I read somewhere that Belgians like to say their cuisine is cooked with French finesse and served in portions of German generosity. Leopold hasn’t managed to capture either." Suffice to say, he gives the restaurant one-and-a-half stars. [Sun-Times]
David Tamarkin had some suggestions for Leopold, but he was much more positive in his three-star (out of five) review. Where Leopold put together a good cocktail list, Tamarkin says to not discount the well-curated wine and beer program, which pairs well with the Belgian food. He recommends the starters over entrees, saying they're more balanced. "The mussels, cooked so perfectly they exhibited not an ounce of rubberiness, are among the best in the city." He enjoyed parts of each entree he had (the short ribs; the smoked rabbit leg with mustard spaetzle), but feels some things are missing in each. Overall, he thinks Leopold would fare better if it were louder. "In a crowded bar where you can’t hear yourself chew, Hedin’s food would probably get raves. It’s only under the soft spotlight of Leopold’s hushed dining room that any shortcomings become noticeable." [TOC]
Over in Logan Square, Rob Lopata takes sushi newcomer Wasabi to task for being just another average Japanese spot. "The lifelessness is apparent the moment you walk through its front door. On arrival, we were greeted with a forced smile from the hostess and a wan look from head sushi chef Hiromich Sasaki." Lopata thinks veteran sushi chef Sasaki's talents are wasted here and was unimpressed with the offerings. "Standard nigiri staples like yellowtail (hamachi), tuna (toro and maguro), and sea urchin (uni) were, at best, not unfresh ... the ankimo madako (monkfish liver wrapped with octopus and shiso leaf), would never be mistaken for the foie gras of the sea." [Chicago Reader]