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Endgrain Lacks Consistency; Lao 18 is Sizzling; More

Photo: Barry Brecheisen

Endgrain needs some fine-tuning before it nails a consistent menu, as "you're just as likely to leave shaking your head" as you are to having had a fantastic meal. Amy Cavanaugh writes that the trout is "entirely one-note" and "completely tasteless," while a grilled rhubarb trifle is "great in conception, but not very exciting in execution." On the other hand, the biscuits are a "revelation," the doughnuts "rival any other" in town, and the fried chicken is "among the best renditions in Chicago right now." There's a lot to love, but Endgrain just needs to sort out a few kinks first. [TOC]

Tony Hu brings an all-star menu to River North with Lao 18. Michael Nagrant tries the latest version of "chicken crack," Tony's Three Chili Chicken, and finds it every bit as addictive with the "bits of juicy, luscious" wok-fried chicken worthy of fighting over. Thin stripes of bible tripe tossed in fiery pepper oil is "tongue-searing" and will leave you on a "capsaicin high" while Shanghai jellyfish is "boiled, chilled and tossed with scallion batons and wisps of carrot." For drinks, the Dewazakura Oka Ginjo has "nice cherry, pear and flower notes." If you're looking for somewhere start with Hu's restaurant empire, Lao 18 is definitely the right place. [RedEye]

J. Rocco mostly delivers on classic Italian fare, writes Gwynedd Stuart. There are "bizarre, custardy texture" shrimp meatballs and "easy to tire" chicken meatballs that should be passed over in favor of the pork ones in a "fresh, pleasantly acidic" tomato sauce. Tender grilled octopus is a "highlight" among the appetizers while the tagliatelle with pork belly, veal and chuck is "rich, homey, and complex" and "maybe the best thing on the menu." Unfortunately, a halibut dish is oversalted, which is a stark contrast to the craft cocktails that are pretty one-note: sweet. [Reader]

Lao 18

18 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654 312 955 8018


1851 W Addison, Chicago, IL 60613 773-687-8191