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Red Door Needs Improvement; Cheesie's Lacks Charm

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Red Door
Red Door
Photo: Zagat

While al fresco dining at Red Door is nice, the food and service could use a little refining. David Tamarkin sits down to some “light, bright and summery” dishes such as an oyster ssam and meaty chicken thigh with lemongrass, but finds fault with a “joyless and overcooked” burger with bacon jam. Other problems arise in a hanger steak that “badly” needs salt and a “tough” and sauceless octopus that is “dry as sand.” And the housemade ice creams are not worth flagging down inattentive servers.

PT is a placeholder restaurant inside the Talbott Hotel and the food reflects its status according to Julia Kramer. Striped-bass ceviche with corn and red potatoes has the “tone of a crawfish boil” but the bowl is puzzlingly full of excess liquid. Ancho chili-marinted shrimp a la diabla is “damn spicy,” but unexpectedly comes over a bowl of pasta, and the menu features “phoned-in” foods like chopped salad with “sad” tomatoes and a “burned” apple turnover. Kramer suggests it’s best to wait this one out. [TOC]

Cheesie’s has the “potential to be a comfort food lover’s nirvana” but the experience falls well short of expectations, writes John DiGilio. The grilled cheese sandwiches are tasty but greasy enough to “lubricate the Red line,” as are the fries and “overcooked” fried pickles. Worse yet is a server who is “agitated and rude” causing the party to move from the bar to a table. [Chicagoist]

Texas chain Fatty’s Burgers & More brings its giant sandwiches to Chicago but fails to impress. Burgers arrive “well-done and completely brown to the core,” “devastatingly” over-salted and “reminiscent of a fast-food patty.” The signature Fatty’s Burger “fails to bring any excitement” while the Free Agent is packed with “limp” grilled tomatoes and wasabi mayonnaise that “scarcely offered any heat.” While the buttered buns and cowboy-sized burgers are highlights, they’re not enough to stand out amongst the fierce competition in the city. [RedEye]

Nieto’s in Highland Park delivers a solid menu of well-prepared American fare. Thomas Witom recommends starting with the “dense, flavorful filling” wild mushroom and spinach ravioli, and says the braised lamb shank and sautéed halibut show that the “kitchen hasn’t lost its mojo” from the restaurant’s previous run. The “succulent” lamb is “fall-of-the-bone tender” and paired with an “impressive” vegetable mix while the halibut comes with a “tasty” lemongrass broth. For dessert, Gram’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding has an “intense chocolate kick” but the texture is “far too grainy.” [Sun-Times]