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Bavette's is Spectacular; Grace is Worthy of the Dough

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
Photo: Jason Little

Michael Nagrant is in love with Bavette's, which he calls "one of the very best restaurants to open in Chicago in a while." A lobster cocktail platter is "inherently buttery and sweet and needs little adornment" while the foie gras terrine is encased in a "half-inch of glorious fat" and accompanied by an "intensely sweet and syrupy" raspberry jam. The smoked whitefish Caesar is a "nice antidote" to the usual chicken breast and the duchess-cut filet has a "marvelous grassy mineral tone in each bite." Capping it off is a chocolate cream pie that's "so velvety, so smooth, so rich with a texture somewhere between mousse and ganache" that it makes Nagrant "stratospherically delightful." [Sun-Times]

If you have $700 to drop on dinner for two, David Tamarkin suggests you "spend that dough at Grace." A plate of a fried ring of sunchoke is "as satisfying as steak" and resembles "chaotic, gorgeous scenes from a forest," while a winter squash soup works because the "warm soup plays off the cold" and the sweet squash "bounces off" crunchy slivers of crabapple. Tamarkin prefers the vegetable tasting menu over the "bigger, blunter and more intense" animal meal, but the latter also features "lovely moments" like a "cool and sunny" Meyer lemon pudding topped with caviar. Pastry chef Bobby Schaffer delivers a grand ending with desserts such as icy cranberry "pearls" with rye crumble that are "tart, crunchy, sweet and never get old," and "vibrant bites" of chocolate that "obliterate any chance the meal could end too rich." [TOC]

Oiistar is a new Wicker Park noodle bar that Mike Sula hopes will strike its own path instead of following the current crop of Asian spots popping up. In the tonkotsu-style bowl, the "lip-smackingly thick and rich" broth has a "milky, almost nutty aspect, like a dark roux, and it carries plenty of body with it" but the dominance of seasoning "tires out the tongue." The noodles themselves "stand up equally well to the saturating effects of the broth" while the duck breast buns are "particularly good." A number of Euro-Asian appetizers should be avoided such as "bitterly overfried" chicken wings, deep-fried mushroom-avocado "mutations" and a "phoned-in" dessert of poached pears in whipped cream with strawberries dessert. But the most interesting item on the menu is a "really good" French kimchi soup that's a "steaming, spicy swamp of powerful kimchi" and slices of Andouille sausage. [Reader]


652 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661 (817) 877-3388