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Pecking Order Falls Short; Peasantry Doesn't Deliver

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At Pecking Order, the chicken “isn’t quite clucking on all cylinders.” Michael Nagrant reviews the place and finds the roasted chicken “wet and wrinkled,” dry in some places and “woefully lacking in salt.” A plate of fried, smashed potatoes smothered in Gouda is “soggy” while arancini balls are “mushy and flavorless.” Some positives include grilled sweet corn “blistered and showered with a hail” of cilantro, lime mayo and cotija cheese, “Mom’s pickles” that are “good enough to be bottled and sold by Vlasic,” and three “quite magnificently subtle” house sauces. [Sun-Times]

The promise of elevated street food at Peasantry is left unfulfilled according to Mike Sula. The elote is a “flat, dull-flavored ear, resembling nothing you’d expect at the top of the season” while gyros feature sweet fruit garnishes that “tip the dishes out of balance.” A cannellini bean and asparagus salad tastes like a “mentholated Dreamsicle,” chicken livers are “undercooked and sinewy,” and gizzards are “overfried to the extent that the protein was indistinguishable.” Further, a shrimp and lobster roll is “underseasoned and underfilled.” Sula fittingly remarks “the best street food remains on the street.” [Reader]

Nando Milano disappoints Julia Kramer despite her low expectations. Carbonara is ruined by a “Diner Grill’s worth of yellow scrambled eggs in place of a silky, rich sauce” and “saltiness that registered on the level of the Dead Sea.” “Whitish, tasteless” tomatoes found in cafeteria salad bars sit atop bruschetta, asparagus with two fried eggs is “harmless but completely unseasoned,” and gnocchi has a “wet, undercooked, gummy texture.” Even worse is the “half chewy fat” steak and panna cotta “stiffened to the point that it’s devoid of creaminess.” Yikes.

Briciola pulls in the crowds but the food is nothing to write home about. David Tamarkin sits down to “straightforward food not worth making a fuss over” like beet carpaccio that’s “simple to the point of boring,” topped with balls of fried goat cheese that are “lukewarm and had a rubberish quality.” The fried pork chop extends beyond the borders of the plate but is “almost unnoticeable” due to being “seasoned so mildly.” [TOC]

For Italian in Highland Park, Moderno is a top choice, writes Phil Vettel. Chitarra pasta delivers that “mildly spicy hit” but with a “deeper, more mature heat that underscores the comfort-food nature.” Arancini “deliver in texture and flavor” and “superior-quality” calamari “star in a presentation” that includes potato cubes. Moving onto the main courses, the roasted chicken is “terrific” as is the pork shoulder cooked in duck fat. A few disappointments include roasted mussels in a broth that “devolved into a muddled neutrality” and smoked-trout salad that lacks a star component. [Tribune]

Moderno

1850 Second Street, Highland park, Illinois 60035

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