Phil Vettel digs the hearty, comforting menu of the Boarding House. The jamon serrano ham salad with smoked ricotta, braised radicchio and toasted hazelnuts is a "week's worth of flavors and textures" and the Bavarian sausage plate is the "must-try appetizer" featuring a "soft, light-on-the-tongue" sausage of pork, chicken and truffle. The signature chicken three ways is another standout with its crispy buttermilk-batter chicken wings, chicken thighs basquaise and stuffed chicken breast roulade, while duck breast over mascarpone polenta and foie gras sauce is also happily recommended. Some misses include deep-fried cauliflower that's a "snore" and oversalting on a couple of dishes. Satiating the sweet tooth is a lemon cheesecake that's a "wonderfully light" sour cream cheesecake with a blanket of lemon mousseline, and a "gorgeous" cream-puff trio with banana cream, pistachio cream and blood-orange cream fillings. [Tribune]
Billy Sunday is the newest, charming spot for high-concept cocktails. Sam Worley enjoys a "delightful," out-of-season daiquiri as well as the "refreshing" Against the Bliss, an ethereal gin-based cocktail that will be "sublime in the summer." The snacks are "thoughtful" and "complementary," such as the pickled sardines and "buoyant and tasty" porchetta di testa "accentuated" with apple julienne and whipped celery root. A "delicious" rabbit pot pie has "perfect biscuit crust" but not enough rabbit, while the "magnificent" duck confit with orange marmalade and granola spread "tastes of an entire Thanksgiving dinner." Worley only laments the fact that these Things in Jars are a la carte and bread must be ordered separately, making the whole thing "feel like a scam." [Reader]
Sumi Robata Bar may be simple and subtle but it's "deserving of gushing praise," writes David Tamarkin. Miso-marinated lamb ribs are "so craveable" that you'll be "shamelessly sucking on the bone;" a salad of shaved burdock root is "sweet and earthy;" and sliced, smoked duck breast is "as tender and meaty as the world's best pastrami." The slider is an "incomprehensibly delicious" sausage in a bao bun that wows, while Tamarkin suggests ordering the ishi yaki over the popular fried chicken. Even the desserts are special—the chocolate cake spiced with togarashi takes overused ingredients and turns them into a "tiny package of something powerfully unique."
Sushi Dokku is as average of a sushi spot as you'll find in town. Julia Kramer rips into the Dragon Roll filled with "uncrunchy shrimp, flavorless eel," a "gruel-like" wakame salad and "mushy" salmon tartare. The rest of the sushi features "anemic, worse-for-wear" fish on "clumpy," sticky rice and the sashimi are "clumsy things" that display a "lack of quality product and skilled assembly." [TOC]
Out in Rosemont, Hofbrauhaus is a "German theme park with good food." Michael Nagrant thinks that the wienerschnitzel is "one of the better versions" he's had anywhere while the winey sauerbraten breaks into "tender shards" when touched. The wurstplatte features four tender sausages that make for an "encased meats extravaganza" but Nagrant's favorite dish is the Kartoffelpuffer, two golden pancakes topped with smoke-kissed salmon that's "far superior" to lox and bagels. For dessert, the Apfelstrudel is a nice meal ender swimming in a creamy vanilla sauce. [Sun-Times]