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Embeya is Simple Yet Solid; Elizabeth Confuses; More

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Photo: Jason Little

Mike Sula thinks Embeya is simple, traditional Vietnamese fare that's satisfying yet ultimately "not particularly eye-opening either." The thit heo kho is the "very hallmark of Vietnamese soul food" with "soft, slippery" pork belly and boiled quail eggs cooked slowly in a caramel sauce that's "lighter and less bitter" than customary. Salmon kho, a small plate of sweetbreads and a papaya salad are "simple, hearty, soulful dishes" but "primal" crispy ribs are "easily the most satisfying and enjoyable thing on the menu." As for the drinks, the cocktail list "skews far too one-dimensionally treacly." [Reader]

Elizabeth raises a lot of questions that go unanswered according to David Tamarkin. The meal is defined by "creativity and inconsistency" with courses such as edible soil that's "dry, crumbly and tasted like Earl Grey tea" and a "cumbersome bite" of crabapple underneath cheese and squishy fried frog legs. "Delicious" salmon is cured in aquavit and infused with the flavor of caraway while the edible centerpiece of the table produces breadsticks that are dipped in a bowl of "creamy, luxe truffled potatoes." A mushroom broth and "deer soup" are "nourishing, aromatic broths that tasted as though they could cure an ill, anywhere," but a "good" whiskey ice cream is marred by a "horrible" walnut powder with the "aftertaste of death." [TOC]

Chef Mark Steuer's cooking at "Carriage House seems to come with an extra dollop of passion," says Phil Vettel. He said the shrimp and grits have a "modern, vertical presentation" where the head-on Georgia prawns form "a center pile around the creamy grits." He adds that the fried chicken thighs with a "persuasive" sweet-potato hot sauce is now on his Christmas list. The "deep bowl of goodies" in the Low Country boil "couldn't be more traditional." He says the ribeye is "tasty," but "upstaged" by the panzanella of cornbread croutons, Georgia blue cheese, marinated tomatoes and grilled chicory it comes with. Vettel says the one drawback is the noise in the dining room and adds that while a trip to Charleston would be nice, "with Carriage House around, booking that next visit has lost a good deal of its urgency."

Jellyfish isn't for everyone but Laura Bianchi thinks it has enough to satisfy foodies. Shareable skewers of pork shoulder glazed in sweet barbecue sauce are "sweet-and-sour pork in miniature," while entrees like duck a l'orange "carry us on a Pacific Rim tour with a memorable portage in China." Seafood maki are "well-made and pretty" and "makes the most of the contrast between subtle seafood and bright, fresh produce," but a little tempura crunch in the sweet potato maki can't offset the "relentless creaminess of potato, avocado and cream cheese." For dessert, the warm chocolate brownie tastes like gingerbread but has the "dense, fudgy quality of a bar cookie." [Crain's]

Out in Rosemont, Park Tavern is a "nice respite for thirsty travelers" with "plenty of reasons" to pick as a dinner spot. Deborah Pankey tries out "delivish" deviled eggs served with crumbled spicy chorizo and thinks the chicken cornbread salad is a "fitting fall lunch." The Mexibano sandwich features "richly smoked and shredded" pork, bacon and Chihuahua cheese and cilantro rice on the side while a side of creamy mac and cheese with the Green Chili Burger is a "showstopping combination." Topping the meal off is gooey butter cake with a crispy top and warm soft inside that has Pankey "uttering sounds usually reserved for chocolate confections." [Daily Herald]


1009 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611


564 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661

Elizabeth Restaurant

4835 North Western Avenue, , IL 60625 Visit Website