Wicker Park finally gets a good raw bar with The Savoy, writes David Tamarkin. A smoked tomato cocktail sauce and a wasabi mignonette "heighten the notes of seawater" on the oysters, snow crab legs are filled with 'sweet meat" and scallops are "beautifully cooked." The entrees are good but "not as scrumptious," with "lovely combinations" such as halibut with "addictive" shishito peppers and a very smoky chicken with an "impressively crispy" skin. Plates that miss the mark include "light and boring" fish and "dry and tomatoless" panzanella. [TOC]
Mike Sula thinks The Savoy needs a little lighter touch before it's ready for prime time. Oysters on the half shell are "dry and devoid" of essential briny liquor, deep-fried snapper spends a few too many seconds in hot oil and there tends to be a "tendency to oversweeten" on dishes including rib eye, smoked chicken and pork chops. On the plus side, sunray venus clams in broth are "remarkable" and "sweet and plump as they are beautiful" while a selection of salads are "robust." If the kitchen can stop overcooking, oversweetening and overmanipulating, Sula thinks Savoy could be worth returning to. [Reader]
BellyQ lives up to hype according to Lisa Arnett. To start, Korean pancakes topped with bacon and kimchee make for a "heavenly combo of smoky and spicy flavors." As for the barbecue, beef short ribs make a "beautiful blank slate" for the sauces, which include soy-balsamic, Serrano chili and hoisin. Cocktails counter the spices and "go down easy with food," and Arnett says Bill Kim's latest restaurant is "bold" and "tantalizing" enough to keep you coming back. [RedEye]
Allium pays homage to Midwestern flavors with a worthy menu reminiscent of your grandmother's kitchen. Peter Gianopulos samples the "damn good" Chicago Style Hot Dog with its" moist, flavorful" all-beef red-hot as well as the burrata starter with heirloom tomatoes that's a "satisfying" bowl of tomato soup. A bowl of "urban greens" along with Wisconsin walleye and a candy bar take on s'mores is an "edible amalgam" of the Midwest, but disappointments include miso deviled eggs that are "too salty" and chicken with noodles that are "downright bland."
At Maison, Gianopulos sits down at a brasserie he'd be proud to call home. The simple menu of French classics includes garlicky sausage that "artfully" hovers between a coarse andouille and creamy boudin blanc and a slow-roast chicken that's a "revelation." Gnocchi are "golden brown and pillowy soft" and a "delicate" brown butter sauce moistens trout with skin as "crunchy as cracklings." For dessert, a lemon tart is akin to iced lemonade and its texture is "soufflé-like." [Chicago]