At Au Cheval, the food is “powerfully sinful” and “powerfully restorative," according to Mike Sula. A lacy hash brown is smothered in duck-heart gravy, the pulmonary tissue adding to the “gutsy gaminess” and “muscular texture” and creating a “glorious mess.” Cheeseburgers “tower” over the table, standing “among the most unique and well played in recent memory.” The short rib stew is filled with chunks of “tender if dry beef, precisely cut” and the General Tsao’s chicken here is a “better class of bird, all dark meat with glassy skin.” [Reader]
On the other hand, David Tamarkin thinks Au Cheval makes a good pit stop rather than a diner. He marvels at the matzo ball soup that “glistens” with “sophisticated compliments” like roasted carrots and cippolini onions, making it a more accurately described “matzo soufflé.” Chicken chopped liver is “so delicious it’s devastating” and beef stew is “exemplary” for its “supple texture and silky sauce,” as well as its lightness. Missteps include an omelet with a butter-like surface that also “literally tastes like butter” so much that it’s “hard to take more than one bite.” A ham sandwich with cheese fondue is not a sandwich as much as a “crock of melted cheese dotted with ham and served with toast points.” Tamarkin remarks, “You can eat well. You just can’t eat dinner.”
RPM Italian is “less a restaurant than an entertainment center.” Julia Kramer tries “chewy, overcooked, ill-conceived” lobster caprese, “dull” chicken with sautéed peppers, and “bland” sole oreganata. The pastas are just as problematic from “too-sweet” short rib pappardelle to lobster-stuffed spinach ravioli that “tastes like something from a freezer aisle.” There are a few bright spots—the cannoli is “supremely light” and the RPM Caesar wedge salad is “remarkably good.” [TOC]
Michael Nagrant writes that most everything at Red Violet “ranges from middling to disastrous.” General Tsao’s chicken features “flat” bits of meat in a “cloying gloppy” teriyaki sauce, while honey-black pepper filet mignon tastes “neither of honey nor of black pepper”. The accompanying radish cake is “glutinous” and like “biting into a square of recently cured Elmer’s school glue.” Even the King crab leg emanates a “foul stench” and is “past its prime.” A sesame crème brulee is “bitter,” and the burnt sugar crust is “far too wispy.” Ouch, pan-Asian fusion has seen better days. [Sun-Times]
Standard Grill in Westmont is a lot better than its modest name indicates. Kevin Pang tries a “superb” Roadside Burger that bears a “crisp” exterior beef crust and a Thousand Island secret sauce that suggests the chef “conquered the Big Mac challenge.” A Baker’s Dozen Chopped Salad is “colorful and crunchy,” while the pizzas’ crusts are ”thick, bubbly, and chewy.” Although the most impressive item to Pang is the “golden” baked chicken, slathered in white fat cap from a slab of prosciutto before being roasted. He thinks this restaurant inside the Standard Market is "far from ordinary." [Tribune]
Eater Chicago intern Jeffy Mai contributed this article.