Flour & Stone's pizzas could "use a little Chicago slickness" according to David Tamarkin. There's not a large variety on the menu except for two "ample and serviceable" salads and the pies, whose crusts are "sturdy and chewy with blistered edges." The bottoms are nicely crisped but the tops are "light on the sauce, which renders the slices a little dry, a little brittle." The lone exception is the Florentine with its chunks of tomatoes and spinach "generously lend[ing] their juices to the mix." Aside from their dryness though, the pies are otherwise "flavorful and satisfying." [TOC]
Julia Kramer dons a bathrobe and dines at Red Square, the spa with a restaurant. Its uniqueness is heightened by a surprising menu of good bites like "buttery" fish "cloaked" in dill and the "terrific" borscht with "well-seasoned" broth. Even the Caesar is "well above expectations with pronounced anchovy flavor" while kebabs are giant skewers of "juicy but fatty" lamb hunks over shriveled peas mixed with rice. The food may not be knockout amazing but Kramer still thinks the experience is unparalleled.
Phil Vettel gives two stars to two Mexican restaurants out in the western suburbs doing great things. At A Toda Madre, cheese-stuffed albondigas swim in chipotle-tomato sauce "so good" he "greedily" sops it up with bread, while the slow-roasted pork belly burrito with caramelized chipotle-seasoned onions is "one of those fake-Mex dishes" that manages to turn a "negative into a positive." Entrees include a "yummy" chicken dish with bacon and poblano peppers; and "beautiful" pink slices of Slagel Farm beef with a tomato-avocado salad. Add in an "absolutely addictive" side of papas "coddled" in a fiery cilantro-serrano aioli and a pay de limon dessert that "echoes the flavors of a good Key lime pie" and you've got yourself a real winner.
The same can also be said of CiNe, where red-onion soup is a "playful nod" to French onion soups and chicken breast in mole negro "belongs on a magazine cover." Equally good is a chorizo-crusted grouper with banana peppers over white mole that "tastes great," while "very good" al pastor, carnitas and skirt-steak soft tacos accommodate less-adventurous eaters. Pineapple and mango give the ceviche a "zing" and just about the only complaint comes from an "overcooked and oversalted" pork milanesa that "disturbed the serenity" of Vettel's visits. [Tribune]