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Sula Thinks Next's Tour of Thailand is a Success; Tamarkin Surprised by Cafe des Architectes, Lockwood

Dave Beran
Dave Beran
Photo: Michael Goss/Reader

Mike Sula thinks the kitchen at Next is entirely capable of tackling any type of cuisine. Although the Thai food "wasn't nearly as spicy or funky as [he] normally prefers," Sula says chef Dave Beran was able to achieve "a perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour, and hot—more like a Porsche than a ten-ton truck." The tour begins with "dainty food bites constructed and garnished with Alinea-like precision." Following begins "a series of surprisingly straightforward renditions of familiar dishes" with presentation that is "playful and entertaining" with "top tier" ingredients and balanced flavors albeit "relatively restrained." The "most enjoyable and novel" for Sula are the relishes that accompany the jasmine rice, and "it represents some of the tour's most pugnacious and enjoyable flavors." The "restraint" of the rest of the menu disappears with the "jaw-dropping" coconut dessert. Even if the Tour of Thailand is a "bit too conservative" to be a "completely transporting experience...it is a largely delicious and fun trip, and I pity the purists that won't get on board." [Reader]

David Tamarkin thinks there are a few hotel restaurants worth trying. Café des Architectes is one of those restaurants with a truffle-poached halibut that "flakes apart in the bowl, and the truffle is gracefully subtle" and a "tender guinea hen, executed with precision." Although it all ranges from "nice to very nice" it "seems a little off-season" until you get to Patrick Fahy's "interesting and summery almond cake with a jiggly blueberry top."

Since the meal went well Tamarkin decides to try the next hotel spot, Lockwood, which appears to be "the opposite of Café des Architectes," with "no windows and just layers of dark colors." Gregory Elliot's menu however, "is all sunshine and herb fields" with a sweet corn soup and a "hearty helping" of squash blossoms. Unfortunately "dessert threatens to take the joy out of the meal" with a near "Jewel quality" brownie and a berry crumble that is "almost raw." Overall, there is "no reason you can’t add Café des Architectes and Lockwood to your list." [TOC]

Despite seeming to love the "eggsperience" at Brunch, Pat Bruno only gives the new all-day brunch spot one-and-a-half stars, somewhat confusingly. Throughout his review, he touts all the great things about this weeks-old River North eatery: "Brunch fed my eggspectations (sorry about that) by the dozen;" "Great potatoes — chunky-cut, golden and crispy outside with just the right firmness inside;" "On a more creative note, the “Slumber Party” was an eye-opener ... Easy to eat, easy to fall in love with;" and "The Belgian waffle at Brunch was what a waffle should be: thick, a little crusty on the outside yet fork tender, with a hint of malt sweetness ... that’s waffle enjoyment to the last bite while evading any thought of calories." Sounds like it deserves more stars. [Sun-Times]

Cafe des Architectes

20 East Chestnut Street, , IL 60611 (312) 324-4063 Visit Website

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