Urban Union may be yet another small-plates restaurant, but it’s a good one. Julia Kramer starts with West Coast oysters as “fresh and deftly opened as any” in the city and “butter-dredged, sweet and fat” shrimp. The lamb riblets are dressed in an herb and garlic-packed gremolata that pushes it into “standout space,” while the housemade pastas are “elegantly made and nothing if not rich.” A few dishes have “technical fumbles” such as the salmon gravlax “buried” in a layer of sea salt and the roasted swordfish that is tough and chewy at the edges. Desserts are in tone with the rest of the meal without compromising their personality: a crunchy Kit Kat-inspired hazelnut mousse cake turns out to be “deep, dark chocolate pudding.” For an unknown pastry chef, Kramer thinks Mitsu Nozaki is “killing it.” [TOC]
There are highs and lows to be had at RPM Italian, but the drinks make it enjoyable. Kate Bernot tries the huge menu and finds the polenta “indulgent,” yet “mushy.” The flavors in the spagheti with squid ink vie for attention rather than working together, and the lamb sugo just “tasted bland.” Roman-style artichokes melt into a “rich, flaky bite” while duck agnolotti balances sweetness with gaminess to make “the whole far better than the sum of the parts.” The cocktails are the highlight though, as the Pinwheel is a “refreshing interplay” of citrus and fizz that would be perfect for a nice summer day. [RedEye]
Macku is a sushi gem in Lincoln Park according to Rachel Loftspring. Ocean fresh fish are “cut perfectly” to “smoothly melt in the mouth” and spicy rolls are without the globs of mayonnaise that plague other sushi rolls. The star of the show is the sweet potato soup, which bursts with flavors of “potent fresh” shellfish combined with “earthy” tuber. Udon is “spicy and savory” and tastes of ocean and earth, while the broth entices diners with “elegance and comfort all at once.” A creative and reasonably priced wine list compliments the menu and the beginnings of a “beautiful relationship.” [Chewables Chicago]
Roger Kamholz tries some overlooked noodle dishes off Spoon Thai’s former “secret” menu and finds that they live up to the acclaim. The “boat” noodles are a delicious “interplay of the noodles, beef, and broth,” with a little sweetness balancing the heat and “lingering” umami flavor. The maa-maa khil mao is likewise “flavorful but not nearly as spicy as other dishes.” Fortunately the sukii-yaki naam/haeng has an addictive, “fresh, bright expression of chile” and is “darn good.” [Serious Eats]
Over in Mount Prospect, Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza is heating up the town, writes Izidora Angel. Puffy garlic rotolis “easily outshine” the other appetizers with their “special touch” of sweet, crunchy and big as your palm sizes. As for the coal pizzas, the dough is “perfectly fresh ? blistery fresh and crunchy,” but the cheese “underwhelmed” as did the globs of ricotta that “lacked much flavor.” The pepperoni classico fared the best with marinara that has a “chance to shine,” and a crust that bore “subtle notes of sweetness.” [Daily Herald]
Eater Chicago intern Jeffy Mai contributed this article.