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Trenchermen is Extraordinary; Frog N Snail is a Simple Hit

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The Trenchermen
The Trenchermen
Photo: Jason Little

The Trenchermen is a restaurant that’s “extraordinary by nearly every measure,” according to Julia Kramer. Pickle tots come tucked with a big, fuchsia smudge of “radiant” sauce while a “sublime” chilled zucchini soup has the “power to change every wrong assumption” about sardines with its “suppleness and subtle sweetness.” Dishes have “captivating flavor combinations that transcend their parts” like preserved rhubarb and aged duck breast, and black olives and artic char that’s “so lush it feels decadent.” The only flaws are with desserts that feel “overcomplicated, vaguely derivative and lackluster,” but the drinks are an “uncanny marriage of gumption and discretion.”

David Tamarkin thinks City Tavern’s menu could use a little fine-tuning and is better suited for the fall season. Chef Kendal Duque “fails in seasoning each element of a dish” resulting in food with “thick, overarching flavors.” Walleye tastes like “lemony cashew sauce on the plate” while the fried chicken is “so underseasoned it tastes like nothing.” The redeeming value comes from the drinks like a sherry concoction whose edge is taken off by pineapple syrup, and a “fruity and balanced” punch. [TOC]

For Phil Vettel, the food at Frog N Snail is “simple, but fearless.” Beef stroganoff is “straight-up ‘60s comfort food” while brook trout comes with a scattering of sautéed snails along with a “yummy” toasted-almond cream. A curry-braised lamb shank has so many layers of comforting flavors that “it’s a struggle not to inhale every single morsel," and the barramundi meuniere is “every bit as irresistible.” Likewise, desserts are “fun, seasonal and fascinating, but never boring.” And for those with an enormous appetite, The Hawkeye pork tenderloin sandwich is a creation out of Man v. Food. [Tribune]

At Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ, the strongest dishes are the ones “that never see the inside of the smoker.” Mike Sula thinks the ramen has some “surprisingly worthy components that add up to a bowl better than most” and that billowing sheets of deep-fried pigskin dusted in sour cream and dill powder is an “inspired combination that should be mass-marketed.” The smoked meats “aren’t too bad in general” but are oversalted and the chicken is “rather dry and bland.” As for the moonshine-focused drink program, the grain flavor is “obscured by the oversweet palette of fruit, honey, juices at work.” [Reader]

RM Champagne Salon could quickly become a “go-to for a relaxed weekend celebration,” writes Emily Van Zandt. The décor is “frills on frills on frills” and the space takes on a feminine feel, while there’s a wide enough selection of bubblies for all budgets. Light plates are “meant to enhance the drinks” and small groups will have a “good time” sharing the plateau de mer. The quail egg ravioli with chanterelles are “savory pillows” stuffed with salty, creamy egg offset by the “tangy” mushrooms. In the end, “the food’s worth trying ? but you won’t be looked down on for not building a full spread.” Save your pennies for the drinks. [RedEye]

Frog N Snail

3124 N Broadway Street, Chicago, Illinois

Trench

2039 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 Visit Website

City Tavern

1416 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 312 663 1278 Visit Website

RM Champagne Salon

116 North Green Street, , IL 60607 (312) 243-1199 Visit Website

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