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Kabocha Fails to Execute; mk's Simplicity Still Shines

Kabocha
Kabocha
Photo: Barry Brecheisen

Kabocha's menu features "swells of imagination," but fails to "deliver by half." According to Mike Sula, overcooking is a "recurring problem" on dishes such as rabbit dumplings that are "dry as a bone;" pork crepinettes that are "unaccountably moistureless and underseasoned;" and a duo of lamb sausage and kombu-cured lamb loin which "maintains the texture of encased sawdust." One standout is the "splendid display" of the seafood aquarium, arranged in a glass case set and filled with pebbles, edible seaweed, cold steamed lobster, king crab legs, shrimp, oysters, and scallop sashimi. But it's a show-stopping centerpiece that's ultimately marred by numerous letdowns like vanilla-sesame ice cream that's "overwhelmed" by sour fruit sauce and "tasteless" chocolate tuile, and green-tea-dusted chocolate truffles served amid a "train wreck" of meringue and strawberries. [Reader]

Almost 15 years later, "simplicity [still] reigns supreme" at mk, writes Phil Vettel. The "very straightforward, no-surprises" menu includes "extraordinary" veal tenderloin with spaetzle and spring veggies in a reduced jus with notes of mint and cumin; and a superb Hawaiian snapper with poached watermelon radish and bacon beurre blanc. The daily tasting menu showcases chef Erick Williams at his best with dishes like "gorgeous" asparagus cannelloni with clams, whitefish rose and fava beans paired with "excellent and unexpected" wines. Finishing the meal is a springtime rhubarb dessert that's an "artful array" of tiny cornmeal cakes with rhubarb compote and orange marmalade, topped with wildflower-honey ice cream. [Tribune]

Palatine favorite Brandt's has returned and is better than ever. Deborah Pankey reports the burgers "continue to please" with hand-sliced chips that are "crisped to perfection." The buffalo chicken wrap is seasoned with enough hot sauce to "keep things interesting" while the grilled cheese and chili are also hits. Just about the only miss is a "blah" mac and cheese but there's more than enough on the menu to satisfy the family diners. [Daily Herald]

mk The Restaurant

868 N Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610 312 482 9179 Visit Website

Kabocha

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

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