The new Slurping Turtle raises the standards for all Japanese eateries popping up. Michael Nagrant drops by to satiate his “carnal lust” for the fried chicken, which is cooked in duck fat and a “Harold’s/Popeye’s slayer.” The “carbon-kissed and charcoal perfumed” pork belly will have you rethinking your opinions on the now ubiquitous dish, and a simple slice of chicken thigh glazed in soy and sprayed with lemon is “luxuriant.” For the noodle lovers, the Slurping Noodle bowl, filled with “pearly plump” nubs of shrimp and salty tuna egg dumplings, are “rejuvenating” and “truly delight.” [Sun-Times]
Phil Vettel reviews Vera and finds an unassuming, modestly priced spot to drop in for a quick drink or small plate. The paella is “terrific,” loaded with chunks of duck chorizo, shredded rabbit confit, pickled chilies and topped with slices of roasted duck. The warm bread is served with olive oil and a “mad genius” duck-fat butter. Vegetables make up the knockout dishes, including roasted mushrooms in thyme marjoram, roasted beets with Spanish blue cheese and pistachios, and a “wonderful” puree of butternut and kuri squash with honey and marcona almonds. [Tribune]
At Barrelhouse Flat, the drinks are near flawless while the food is a serviceable complement, writes Mara Shalhoup. She discerns no mistakes on the “deliciously overwhelming” cocktail list, and the Elk’s Own cocktail is a combination of liquors and egg white that is a “perfect antidote” to the chilly season. The Whiskey Smash is similar, yet refreshing change of pace. As for food, both ingredients in the chicken and waffles dish suffer a “mushy” consistency. However, the blue cheese and mushroom beignets are a “balanced earth and funk” inside a crisp exterior that live up to the sophistication of the cocktails.
Shalhoup also visits Cantina Laredo and thinks that while it may lack the culinary sophistication of other modern Mexican restaurants, it makes up for it with “satisfying grub.” A shrimp, scallop and fish ceviche is “delicate” and “balanced,” and the braised pork shanks are slathered in a “supersmoky decadence” chipotle-wine sauce that is a “divine match” for the carnitas. And the deceptive-looking chile rellano is a “nuanced blend” of perfectly prepared ground beef, plump raisins and toasted almonds.
Barbari serves up “heavenly” pizza over in Ukrainian Village in a warm, low-key BYO setting. Kate Schmidt writes that the hand-tossed dough, crisp thin crust and rectangular slices top other venerable spots. The rest of the menu comprises “exceptionally fresh” salads, soups, sandwiches and house-baked barbari, Persian bread served with smears such as eggplants or cucumber-yogurt spread. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free options as well as daily specials including a salmon fillet or “savory” beef cutlet, which combine for “wholesome, satisfying food, made with love.” [Reader]
Eater Chicago intern Jeffy Mai contributed this article.