The food at Dusek's is "a solid hit" and "lives up to the mouthwatering menu descriptions," writes Anthony Todd. Pea tendrils with the General Tso's sweetbreads add the "perfect note of vegetal funk to the finish of each sweet, crispy bite" while the Juicy Lucy burger is Slagel Farms beef wrapped around cheese for "an effect not unlike a savory Gusher." In a bit of a surprise, the lobster roll is a "wonderful taste of the ocean" and possibly the best in the city. And the drinks menu is "just as good for you," with sips such as Underberg, a German digestif that "gives Jeppson's Malort a run for its money in bitterness."
Downstairs, Punch House delivers boozy punches that'll keep the good times rolling. Amy Cavanugh tries a gin tea punch that has "a lot of depth to it" with "warming cinnamon notes, a slight sweetness and just the right amount of citrus." Unfortunately, none of the single cocktails are balanced—"punches taste overwhelmingly of citrus and bury the other flavors, while the Old Fashioned has an overabundance of cherry." As for the food, dishes like fish cakes, blue crab dip and a stuffed pretzel oozing with cheese are "delicious, and just the kind of food you want to chow down on while drinking." [TOC]
Mike Sula also thinks Dusek's is just the right spot for Pilsen. The boneless ducks wings are "one of the best" riffs on buffalo wings while the "dauntingly sized" plate of choucroute is a "nod to the fortifying stuff on which the neighborhood's long-departed Slavs might once have fueled." A fillet of flaky hake is submerged in a "powerfully rich, buttery" chowder and an "impressive" Moroccan-style tagine of Israeli couscous is topped with curried, nearly raw vegetables. Am "intriguing list" of desserts includes a dense chocolate bar resting on "Coke cream" served with pretzel ice cream encased in a salted chocolate shell. [Reader]
A10 isn't just a place for Hyde Parkers, it's "good enough to be a destination for all Chicagoans who love great food." Michael Nagrant's first trip on a Sunday evening is met by a surprising brunch menu, with items like a pumpkin brioche that's "dry and tastes like it has been sitting around all day." Fortunately, a return visit yields a dinner menu that fares much better: bucatini carbonara is "packed with so many comforting carbs;" blood sausage is a "beautiful encased meat slathered with a creamy swoosh of hollandaise;" and the cauliflower is sauced with a "licorice-y zip of teragon and funky pecorino cheese." A few minor quibbles include a dish of snails that is a "little flat and just needs more salt," and olive oil donuts that are a "little too dense." [RedEye]
The changes at Oceanique are keeping the restaurant fresh even after 25 years, according to Phil Vettel. Scallops are "beautifully seared," under watermelon-radish ribbons and over kimchi and a lobster-soy-sake reduction, and an "artistic presentation" of chicken liver mousse capped with madeira gelee is comprised of accompaniments "encircling the mousse like paint blobs on an artist's palette." But it's the lobster's that's the "star dish," sitting in a yuzu-saffron sauce that "contributes welcome citrus accents." The "picture-perfect" desserts include the pots de crème with chocolate, caramel and butterscotch; and a "beautiful" Napoleon with crispy puff-pastry layered with vanilla mousseline. [Trib]