Julia Kramer finds that Acadia is a fine dining experience in a more relaxing setting. The “risky” shrimp dish is the “most successful” with its “modern, unexpected combination of textures and ingredients.” Lobster pie is deconstructed by “intensely flavored” lobster bisque “hedonistically” poured around buttery lobster meat, resulting in “very fine, very rich food.” Even the $12 burger never makes it feel as though the restaurant is “compromising its vision.” However, “unforgiveable desserts” are a low point as the milk chocolate cremeux is as appealing-looking as “brown toothpaste.” [TOC]
Similarly, Mike Sula thinks Acadia gets it right in the unlikeliest of neighborhoods. Garnishes “support and synergize” a la carte dishes such as a foie gras torchon rolled in malt crumbles from which “radiate” arrangements of jellied hot-toddy cubes and smudges of curried apple butter. Chicken presse is “highly refined, but unironic and satisfying,” and fat shrimp “summon the nostalgia” of Spain. For drinks, a “depthless and enduring” rum and kola smash will ease you through the courses. Despite the lack of competition in the area, Sula thinks the restaurant “ought to do well just about anywhere.” [Reader]
Rounding out the bunch, ambitious Acadia soars to an impressive start, writes Phil Vettel. Jumbo scallops “taste as though they were harvested an hour ago,” the “crowded and indulgent” lobster potpie is a can’t-miss as is the “spare and restrained” black cod. Make room for the Wagyu tri-tip, which matches thick slices of beef with a “virtual Stonehenge” of confit and baked potatoes. Desserts are “so free-form they border on the haphazard,” with chocolate pudding appearing to have been “dropped from the sky” and “an absolute mess, but quite tasty.” [Tribune]
La Parrilla is an average South American steakhouse struggling to find an identity. Michael Nagrant enjoys “truly one of the best” empanadas but the chicharron con arepa is “dry, cakey and brick-like, featuring bits of rubbery chew.” The grilled meat platters “aren’t particularly distinctive” and “boredom sets in after about five bites” on the pork wiener schnitzel. While the flan is “smooth” with a “rich, dripping, burnt molasses caramel,” at the end of the day Nagrant thinks “little differentiates” La Parrilla from its competitors. [Sun-Times]
The buzz for Tavernita’s long-awaited opening has been for good reason. The bar is equipped with the “most elaborate tap system” Lisa Arnett has ever seen and drinks and dishes are “perfectly paced,” even in a packed house. At the lounge, the Serrano ham croquetas are reminiscent of ones made in Spain. While the atmosphere might not appeal to everyone, most will find that it “hits the sweet spot for a hot night out.” [RedEye]
The Southern Mac & Cheese Store has some hits and misses. Roger Kamholz’s New Mexican green chile mac & cheese was “sharp and creamy,” and had a “good bite” while transporting him to the “flavor space’ he was after. However, the BBQ brisket mac & cheese’s cheddar seems to “blunt any hints of meaty flavor,” which has to be “excavated” from the bowl. All in all, he walks away “mostly content” with the experience. [Serious Eats]
Refreshing communal plates draw diners to Near in Barrington. Carolyn Walkup tries “crunchy, flavorful” fried chickpeas to start as well as satisfying, “soft, creamy” burrata. The “playful” prosciutto and melon risotto is “surprisingly light” and “sufficiently creamy,” while the mahi mahi is “perfectly cooked,” but a little too salty. As an ender, the lemon curd with coffee gel, brown butter cake and amaretto cookie crumbs is an “excellent contrast” of flavors. [Daily Herald]
Eater Chicago intern Jeffy Mai contributed this article.