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Dusek's Shines; New Surprises at Kabocha; More

Dusek's Board & Beer [Photo: Marc Much]

Dusek's is quickly making a case for best restaurant in the neighborhood, writes Lisa Shames. Crispy pig tails are "fun and delicious" and warm broccolini with toasted pine nuts, raisins and pickled radish is a "great alternative to a cold salad." Vegetarians will love the Moroccan-spiced vegetable tagine, an "exotic and hearty mix" of Israeli couscous, dried fruits and spiced feta, while the wood-roasted monkfish in a creamy corn chowder sauce is great seafood choice. For dessert, the churros have a "subtle heat" from roasted chiles while the bittersweet chocolate sorbet adds "creamy goodness." [CS]

Shin Thompson delights with longtime favorites and new surprises at Kabocha. Phil Vettel tries the classic "Duck, Duck, Goose" creation with seared duck breast, duck confit and seared foie gras that's contrasted by an "excruciatingly tart" gooseberry jam, which "delivers a real jolt to the taste buds." Wagyu beef tartare has a "deeply satisfying flavor" and is "worth a second look," while a novel surf-and-turf of fatty bone marrow "balanced" by lean octopus has "complexity and visual dazzle" due to pieces of compressed plum, ginger crisps, pickled garlic, red watercress and croutons. "Artistic" desserts include a triangle of chocolate torte, "perked up" with Thai chili and "soothed" by grilled-peach sorbet. [Tribune]

Mike Sula thinks that the food at Sze Chuan Cuisine might be milder than its competitors, but it's balanced, complex and just as good. "Silky" fried lamb slices are in a sauce that "amplifies" the cumin in the dish and spicy chicken in Chongqing style sends a "steady nine-volt charge running across your tongue." Similarly, ma po tofu allows the ground pork to "assert its own flavor" while a cloudy soup with slices of chicken breast and tofu noodles emphasizes "texture over more confrontational flavors." Finally, "air dried beef" is "full of concentrated, beefy, smoky flavor" that's perfect for snacking with the rice liquors. [Reader]

Beatrix has some hits and misses, but it's "just the kind of restaurant you want in your hotel," according to Jeff Ruby. There are "irresistible" Japanese chicken meatballs in a chili-cilantro sauce, a long sheet of truffled pasta with two "impeccably poached" eggs in a lemony butter sauce, and cauliflower Milanese that's "vaguely brilliant" and "amped up" by a chili-yogurt dipping sauce. A few duds include "flavorless, distinctly uncaramelized" pork shoulder and "bland" hummus with veggies. Desserts are equally mixed, with the "impossibly rich" caramel pie canceled out by a "thoroughly unappealing" vanilla milk and chia seed pudding.

In comparison, Travelle aims high but fails to hit the mark as the "labyrinthine menu tries too hard." Flaming saganaki wings "still taste like ordinary chicken wings," the seacuterie is "stocked mostly with flops" like "spongy scallops in a senseless homage to boudin blanc," and "laughably fatty" suckling pig doesn't try hard enough. There are some winners to be found though, such as the Provencal tian that's a "vegetarian masterpiece," and an "artful" dark chocolate verrine with brownie biscuit that's a "crispy-smooth candy bar dream." [Chicago]

Dusek's

1227 W 18th Street, Chicago, IL

Travelle

330 N Wabash Ave Fl 2, Chicago, IL 60611 312-923-7705 Visit Website

Beatrix

519 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 284-1377 Visit Website

Kabocha

925 W Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60607 312 666 6214

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