Rosebud's new restaurant Joe Fish is a "throwback" that's "intended to elicit awe," writes Mike Sula. Appetizers and salads can "easily stand in for entrees for diners of normal appetite," with options like a salad of poached lobster chunks smothered in Russian dressing, and crab cakes with "sweet, finely shredded flesh" beside a "treacly sweet" slaw.
"Arresting" seafood presentations include a "pearly, phone-book thick" sea bass fillet as well as a panfried Dover sole with "delicate, sweet" white flesh bathed in a rich almondine sauce. Even better is the bouillabaisse, featuring an "aquarium's worth" of seafood, "all cooked to the perfect temperature and texture." To finish, a "towering" five-layer chocolate cake will make all other diners jealous. [Reader]
Phil Vettel checks out two new Libertyville restaurants. Milwalky Trace is "Wicker Park simple" with its menu but successful with choices like a "delicious" small plate of asparagus over a puddle of miso butter and topped with a poached egg. Of the entrees, roasted half-chicken has "very good flavor" while the day's sustainable fish is a "good bet." Braised pork shoulder with a bowl of clams and cabbage confit is a "terrific dish, easily the best of the main courses" but the $35 dry-aged steak is also "worth its price and more." The "down-home yummy" desserts include the "must-try" thick-cut, custard-enriched French toast that's "breakfast for dessert."
On the other end of the spectrum, Shakou is "River North dress-up" featuring Japanese specialties. It "functions largely in Sushi 101 mode" and its signature maki rolls "get a little repetitive" but notable exceptions include the Black Widow roll and the Urban Heat. A Japanese bruschetta appetizer is also a "cute idea that needs more flavor." Sushi aside, the katsu with an orange-based sweet chili sauce is "one of the best dishes" sampled, Chilean sea bass is "refreshing," and bul go gi is a "good option" as well. For drinks, sake offerings are "particularly budget-friendly." [Tribune]
Yum Cha helps fill the void of Chinese restaurants downtown with solid lunch offerings. Joanne Trestrail writes that steamed and pan-fried dumplings are a "strong suit … plump, fresh and filled with all manner of tasty things," while "pillowy" bao buns are stuffed with chicken or barbeque pork. Fried taro puffs and sweet potato fries with salted egg are "crunchy treats" while vegetarians can try the "fine" pan-fried turnip cake and crispy cauliflower with chili pods. And to cap off the meal, Egg-custard tarts, a Chinese staple, "stand out." [Crain's]