The latest incarnation of Pasteur brings together French-Vietnamese cuisine without fusing the two. Of the French dishes Mike Sula tries, the foie gras is the “most wretched” he’s ever encountered and the buttery steamed razor clams had been held “so far beyond their sell-by date.” Fortunately, the Vietnamese items fare better as the Japanese eggplant with powdered dry shrimp is a “ballsy, powerfully meaty, satisfying plate.” While a beef curry with rice noodles is “just an overpriced mess,” selections of noodle soups are a “fresh and fragrant value.” [Reader]
Ombra delivers what you would expect from bar food, existing to “fill the stomach and fulfill elementary cravings,” writes David Tamarkin. The food is “literally not pretty” and he finds it “hard to eat any of it.” The tuna and bean salad tastes as if “it had been sitting for a while” and the chopped cabbage is dressed in a chili vinaigrette that has “all the subtlety of a Sun-Times front-page headline.” The truffle-egg tramezzini is “nothing more than lunch-box fare,” but the small comfort here is that the portions are small and there’s “always something else on the table” to clear your palate. [TOC]
Kate Bernot thinks Mama Milano Pizza Bar dishes up a pie worth trying in Old Town. The pizza’s crust has its own “earthy” flavor, but the char and audible crunch “make the biggest impression.” The classic margherita “nails all the crucial details,” and the “famous” spinach bread is “certainly deserving of the nickname.” While the cannoli is “forgettable” and the thin tomato sauce is the “only knock against the pies,” Bernot says she hasn’t been anywhere else that’s serving pizza this “crunchy, chewy, and thin.” [RedEye]
Benjamin is a fine contemporary American addition to the North Shore in Highland Park. Tom Witom starts with a “sophisticated interpretation” of Thai-inspired won tons and a “photogenic” roasted pumpkin, blood orange and frisee salad. The “delicious” veal sweetbreads are prepared with a buerre blanc sauce, and the Atlantic salmon is “cooked to perfection” and comes with a “colorful profusion” of veggies. Pumpkin bread pudding and a double chocolate Kahlua mousse torte are also “worth the extra time on a treadmill.” [Sun-Times]
Eater Chicago intern Jeffy Mai contributed this article.