Topolobampo's "Mexico City 1491" menu features "deep, complex, soul-nurturing" flavors, writes Phil Vettel. Tasked with using only ingredients available at the time, the kitchen still manages to push out dishes like a ceviche splashed with a vinegar infused with pineapple and crimson Jamaica flower, and a tamale filled with polenta, chayote and frog leg meat.
For the meat courses, a slow-cooked rabbit is surrounded by a "vivid and bold-tasting" achiote sauce while a "delightful" and "beautifully red" venison dish is enhanced by a chili chocolate sauce. The desserts are "nothing short of alchemy," with the "astonishing" piece de resistance being a chocolate cake made with mesquite bean meal, ice cream made with coconut and atole, coconut espuma and dots of honey-thickened avocado pudding. [Tribune]
Spicy Thai Lao in Burbank is the only restaurant in the region serving Lao-influenced food and Mike Sula thinks it's definitely worth a trip. There are bowls of breakfast soups like an "incendiary" chicken tom yam sweetened with tamarind alongside an "extraordinary" som tam salad with "powerfully funky and spicy" jackfruit.
"Wonderful things" await with the chicken courses as well and include fried chicken patties with sweet chile sauce, and fried chicken wings with an herbal marinade of tamarind, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and chiles. The eggrolls stuffed with cabbage, glass noodles, chiles and turmeric are Sula's "new favorite egg rolls" while a "mean, assertively fishy" kimchi is an off-the-menu treat. [Reader]
Out in South Elgin, Sweet Berry Café offers an "extensive, well-executed breakfast and lunch menu." Thomas Witom suggests starting with one of the "festive" vodka cocktails like a pomegranate mimosa or bacon Bloody Mary before moving onto a seafood benedict—two crab and shrimp cakes topped with a "lively" chipotle hollandaise. A "satisfying" Denver spuds dish features potato skins filled with scrambled eggs, ham, scallions and green peppers topped with melted cheddar. [Daily Herald]