While it isn’t his favorite to date, Phil Vettel thinks the Next Sicily menu is the one he’d “most like to repeat.” The family-style meal starts off with “remarkable” arancini stuffed with lamb’s tongue followed by a sweet shrimp crudo that’s “as close to a Sicilian ceviche as you’re likely to get.” On the pasta courses, “light, slightly spongy gnocchi nuggets” of bucatini support sun-dried fish roe flakes and the gemelli con sarde is Vettel’s favorite dish of the evening. The swordfish is “simple but flawless” with a “wonderfully moist” interior and a “lightly crispy exterior” and the vegetables accompanying the courses are “knockouts.” [Tribune]
David Tamarkin thinks Wicker Park is big enough to handle two great taco joints with the new opening of Antique Taco. The vibe is “cute and vintage” and the tacos are “more composed than most, [and] feel like meals in miniature.” The fish tacos are “light and crispy” topped with “smoky” cabbage while “sumptuous” carnitas carry a “considerable kick” from an adobo rub. A “sophisticated” corn salad is a “decadent” mixture of kernels, onions, beans and mayonnaise and the “hefty” meatball slider comes with a “smooth” mole poblano.
Maison does a lot right but still has a ways to go, writes Julia Kramer. A seafood tower comes with “expertly shucked” oysters, “gently poached” shrimp and “fresh and sweet” lobster, and the “puffy, rich” Gruyere gougeres and soft-cooked eggs draped in bright mayonnaise are “simply delightful.” Not as successful is the roasted chicken, whose best part is the thick slice of toast underneath, or the bistro steak that’s “in need of salt.” Duck rillettes “tasted like nothing beyond the seasoning” and the gnocchi, while “creamy and substantive,” is “extremely dry.” The desserts are “extremely standard renditions of French classics,” with the worst being the “heavy and overly eggy” crème brulee. [TOC]
Red Door is a good gastropub with just a few missteps according to Sam Worley. One of his favorite dishes is a pile of greens dressed with a “killer” buttermilk-dill vinaigrette, while a hanger steak is “rich and well-cooked” and a “perfect” lemongrass chicken thigh lives up to the restaurant’s globally inspired pub fare concept. Faults include an “overwhelming” amount of salt in dishes like the gnocchi and poutine and a “frustrating” bone marrow appetizer that is a “slog.” [Reader]
Untitled is a new speakeasy but unless the food and drinks improve, “there may not be much reason to go back.” Emily Van Zandt tries a mix of throwback dishes like oysters Rockefeller and can’t-misses such as the grilled peach and arugula salad and stuffed fried squash blossoms. However, grit cakes are “thick, under-seasoned bricks” and the strawberry shortcake “lack flavor” while the brioche doughnuts “arrive cold, crunchy and not at all appealing.” The Pistol Smoke cocktails “tasted more of lemon than anything,” but Don Patricio’s Pinkie Ring manages to be “refreshingly girlie without being cloying.” [RedEye]