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Graham Elliot is Excellent; Untitled's Service is Shaky

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graham elliot
graham elliot
Photo: mdfeeds/Flickr

Graham Elliot is not a four-star restaurant yet, but it is certainly “worthy of support” according to Phil Vettel. A “luscious” pork belly gets “subtle support” from mango balls while a slow-cooked halibut is “so beautiful you’ll want to run out for your own sous vide kit.” Andrew Brochu’s “plates are so gorgeous they ought to arrive framed” such as a “masterful” tomato salad and a risotto dish that offers “soothing” flavors of artichoke, Parmesan and summer truffle. And for dessert, Bryce Caron’s frozen oat mousse with raspberry gel, fresh berries and bourbon-caramel sauce is a “fine dessert that also would make one hell of a breakfast.”

At Untitled, the food “isn’t bad at all” but the service sinks the experience, writes Mike Sula. The promise of seasonality "seems remarkably true” with dishes like arugula with “firm but sweet” grilled peaches, “delicately” battered and deep-fried squash blossoms filled with cheese, and beet salad with goat cheese accented by golden raisins and pistachios. The chocolate-bourbon sauce accompanying sliced duck breast “recalls a Bayless mole,” while a Manhattan chowder “seems more of a sauced dish than a soup.” The fatal flaw comes in the service, with servers failing to return “unless hailed in the manner of a drowning victim,” thus preventing Sula from trying any of the desserts. [Reader]

Michael Nagrant is blown away by the food at Urban Union. Chef Michael Shrader “sexes up" manicotti by stuffing it with “luscious” pieces of tender lamb, tomato sauce and “gooey bubbling” ricotta. Foie gras mingles with medjool dates and a “golden drizzle” of sweet sautemes wine sauce that makes each bite “burst with orange essence and hints of buttered popcorn.” Even the seafood platter is filled with “diamond-like glinting crushed” ice crystals larded with “creamy” heads-on shrimp, lobster tail and the “briniest sea-kissed” oysters. To end the meal, the Copy Kat is an “airy” hazelnut mouse cake that’s a riff on a Kit Kat but “way better.” [CS]

David Tamarkin thinks Pecking Order thrives on the smarts of chef Kristine Subido. The grilled chicken has caramelized bits of char on the skin that “add a depth” the other versions lack, like the “textbook” roasted chicken. Chicken and egg noodles come in a “lovely and sophisticated” broth while the City Bird and Country Bird sandwiches “make a pair of the best chicken sandwiches in town.” As for the P.O. sauce on the menu made from soy sauce, vinegar and chicken livers, Tamarkin wants to smear it on everything he eats for the rest of his life.

The sushi at Kai Zan is some of the best in the city and chefs Melvin and Carlo Vizconde are “masters of maki.” Julia Kramer sits down to bites of gently seared maguro, one-bite rolls of salmon-wrapped scallops and shrimp tempura wrapped in strips of avocado and finds them “positively refined.” A “perfect” quail-egg yolk stirred in a bowl of rice, uni and chopped tuna creates a “plush, silken mixture” that makes Kramer “think of nothing except joy” when she consumes it. [TOC]

Urban Union

1421 W Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60607 312 929 4302 Visit Website

Graham Elliot

217 W Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654 312 624 9975 Visit Website

Untitled

111 W Kinzie Street, Chicago, IL 60654 312 880 1511 Visit Website

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