The re-imagined NoMI is lighter on the wallet but the food is just as good as before. Phil Vettel loves the uni-avocado toast that offers a “well-balanced interplay” between the sweet-creamy uni, “salty-smooth” ham and tart capers. Also love-worthy are the sweetbreads over a creamy onion puff-pastry tart alongside a salad topped with braised veal tongue. To finish the meal, desserts “alone justify a visit” such as the bittersweet-chocolate mousse that is “so intense” Vettel’s wife “practically swooned."
At Allium, the dining is also less formal and more approachable. The lavosh is a cheese and herb-topped flatbread whose “visual is what sells it,” while small plates are put together with “astonishing craftsmanship” like the steak tartare made with bison sirloin, with a “sturdy, satisfying mouth feel.” A caramelized onion tarte tatin with goat cheese is a “gem” and desserts are also “fun and inexpensive.” [Tribune]
g.e.b. is off to a rocky start according to Julia Kramer. The beets in the beet salad are “undercooked to a point that no respectable chef could pass off as al dente” and the burrata is as “stiff and oozeless” as standard mozzarella. Mussels are bitter and a steak is “so densely fatty no amount of chewing is making it digestible.” More pitfalls include “bland” and “undercooked” lasagna and chocolate chip cookies that are “dry and charmless.” It’s not all bad though, as the sockeye salmon “proves a beauty” and the chicken is “impressively moist.” [TOC]
Nella Grassano’s return with Pizzeria da Nella Cucina Napoletana has brought back some of Chicago’s best pies. Mike Sula examines the crusts that “accept heat like an embrace while maintaining their elasticity” resulting in “something at once deeply satisfying and ephemeral.” The Italian-imported toppings are joined seamlessly to the crust by a “luminous ray of sweetness and light” San Marzano tomato sauce, while a Nutella pizza is “irresistible.” [Reader]
Premise brings a new kind of experience to Andersonville and it’s for the better. Michael Nagrant sits down to a plate of charred lobster, trunks of plantain and mushroom florets, whose “buttery funk mirrors and enhances the lobster’s flavor.” A dish of compressed melon with a plethora of ingredients “gloriously, though inexplicably” works while lake whitefish is a “flaky perfect plank” and glazed pork belly is “meltingly tender.” For dessert, a “maelstrom” of pea tendrils alongside lightly sponged carrot cake “looks like the remains of a Peter Rabbit binge in the garden of Mr. McGregor.” [Sun-Times]