The Bread & Wine experience feels like something out of a Crate & Barrel catalog, writes David Tamarkin. The décor and furnishings are strangely reminiscent, as are the "countless average meals." The finger foods are robust but “forgettable,” kale that sits underneath the meatloaf is "rubbery," and beans on the side are “underseasoned.” It’s the housemade fettuccine that’s the biggest offender though—a little “stiff,” and paired with mushrooms and goat cheese "threatens to put you to sleep." Zzzz. [TOC]
Mike Sula thinks Bread & Wine is an attractive new spot that delivers the goods to an underserved neighborhood. The house-made charcuteries have an “adequate balance” of sweet and pickled accents, but the pierogis are “dry, thick, cakey” and nearly burnt. A whey-poached chicken breast is a “crispy skinned, juicy muscle,” and the lamb meatloaf is “delicious” with a “surprisingly deep-flavored lambiness.” For dessert, “cool creamy” panna cotta infused with popcorn and shellacked with caramel is something Sula would return for. [Reader]
It’s another week and another comparison to Applebee’s for BLT American Brasserie. This time Michael Nagrant starts with the gratis black pepper and Gruyere popovers, which are “dried husks of crust featuring burnt cheese and a gummy interior.” The only Asian component in the Asian calamari salad is the “unseasoned, soggy” tempura batter on the squid, and the soy and honey-glazed flaky cod falls “flat.” It’s not all bad however, as the passion fruit crepe soufflé is a ”perfect fluffy custard bursting with tropical notes.” [Sun-Times]
Phil Vettel gets around to trying Slurping Turtle and gives it three stars. The Tan Tan Men features “chewy” whole-wheat noodles, which “hold up” to the pork and broth while the Tonkotu is the “indulgent” dish with its braised pork shoulder in pork broth. “Irresistible” items are the sticky-glazed pork belly astride round flats of steamed bun and the duck-fat fried chicken, which is “nearly as good as the clay-pot chicken served at Takashi.” As for the sashimi bar, a “very nice” octopus salad and don’t-miss Hamachi tartare are excellent choices.
Likewise, Bar Toma also receives the three-star treatment from Vettel. Skewers of marinated beef, chicken or lamb are “nicely executed” and the spicy octopus purgatorio has “close-to-heaven” flavor. The dough on the pizzas is “puffy, satisfyingly chewy and very light on the tongue,” and the plancha-seared carrot planks are a “revelation” to Vettel. To cap things off, the house-made gelati “demand attention,” as do the fresh-baked cannoli. [Tribune]
Eater Chicago intern Jeffy Mai contributed this article.