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Vettel Gives Sixteen Four Stars; Kramer Slams City Winery

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Photo: Trump Hotel

Sixteen shows that luxury dining can still deliver during these uncertain times. Phil Vettel takes in the spectacular view from the Trump Hotel and finds the food equally impressive, starting with an opening course of crisped Lake Michigan smelts presented on a glass plate over a "composition of beach sand and local wildflowers." A "lovely" lobster salad and "beautifully poached" halibut are standouts, as is the "inspired duo" of sea scallops and sea urchin on the prestige menu. And the American wagyu-style beef with eggplant puree, coins of bone marrow and mustard make such an "emphatic savory finale" that you'll be begging for the "simple but beautiful" plate of mission figs topped with honey streusel. [Tribune]

Julia Kramer stages an intervention for City Winery. The kitchen manages to mess up the simplest dishes such as a "dry" flank steak with "bitter" chimichurri sauce; a housemade bagel that "tastes no better than a Lender's;" a cheese plate with spiced walnuts that "taste the way paint smells;" and the "saddest, greasiest" potato latkes that have ever come out of a professional kitchen. With as much ambience as a "Barnes & Noble café," service that's "borderline hopeless" and molten chocolate cake that can't beat out the boxed variety, City Winery's off to a very rough start.

LM Bistro serves up satisfying fare that David Tamarkin wishes could be applied to every LM location. The heirloom tomato salad layers "sharp and sweet" tomatoes with tart peaches while "tender, slow-roasted" salmon is accompanied by "decadent" gnocchi and "savory" mushrooms. And chicken, plated with a "smooth" eggplant puree and piquant olives is "lovely, rustic" French food that makes the aggressive LM expansion "bittersweet." [TOC]

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf is a European steakhouse whose stars are not the red meat, Mike Sula writes. The foods are such "well-executed improvements" of typical steakhouse archetypes that he thinks it's a waste to give them up for "relatively mundane" slabs of beef. The chewy and pillowy complimentary bread is worth waiting in line for while the cognac-spiked foie gras terrine, "jacketed in ivory fat," is "every bit as good" as the one at Maude's. A "tender" slab of beef tongue bathed in a "slick" demi-glace "competes with the finest pot roast" Sula's ever encountered, which leaves the steaks for the "pickiest, most conservative" eaters that are afraid to branch out. Overall, he calls it the steakhouse that "breaks the mold and excels in practically every aspect. Except steak." [Reader]

Michael Nagrant continues to hit up mom and pop restaurants with Sol de Mexico, a Mexican joint he calls a "beacon of light." He thinks the mole sauces are some of the best, while the "juicy" bone-in pork chop with a "beautiful" cinnamon and fruity tomato-infused sauce is impossible to resist "voraciously" ripping into. Wood-fired nopales is "smoky" and a "nice compliment" for flaky tilapia and "cloud-light, fluffy" Uchepos Grantinados is the "very best tamale" he's ever had. Even desserts like the "caramel-glistening" upside-down pineapple pie are "magical." [Sun-Times]

Sol de Mexico

3018 North Cicero Avenue, , IL 60641 (773) 282-4119 Visit Website


401 North Wabash Avenue, , IL 60611 (312) 588-8030 Visit Website