The Chinese: Modern menu at Next "manages to delight and surprise, deliciously," writes Phil Vettel. The meal starts with a "delicious" hot and sour soup that's "spicy but with a gentle, residual sweetness" before moving onto courses like a "beautiful, delicate" fish dish with white asparagus, celery curls, radish, green chilies and nasturtium.
A polarizing crab salad served in a coconut shell is "really tasty—complex and refreshing at once," while "beautiful, silken slices" of smoked duck breast are just one preparation in the duck course. A board of lightly glazed dried-beef slices and fried broccoli florets is a playful take on beef and broccoli, and the beverage pairings include a "knockout version" of Suan Mei Tang. Vettel thinks that the menu will jibe with none of the traditional views on Chinese cuisine, but it's a success nonetheless. [Tribune]
Out in Schaumburg, Chicago Prime Italian is a worthy lunch spot. Laura Bianchi says "you can't go wrong" with the minestrone or pancetta-laced pasta fagiole soup, while the Mediterranean and chopped salads "pack a lot of variety onto one plate." Two "sure-fire" pastas are the rigatoni in creamy vodka sauce and cheese ravioli with marinara, and "way garlicky" pesto, mozzarella and herbed focaccia "rev up the flavor" in the juicy grilled chicken sandwich. For dessert, a creamy housemade ricotta cheesecake is a delightful end to the meal. [Crain's]
The menu at Ad-Lib Geocafe in Lindenhurst "packs a powerful punch with fresh, local ingredients." Jennifer Billock tries the tasting menu, which starts with a "divine" baby kale salad that puts her in "culinary heaven" with a "marriage of sweet, crisp and cream." Others starters of Portobello with Gouda crème fraiche, and a spinach salad, are "robust with an earthiness that ground[s] and center[s]." Veal steak with a sour cherry reduction and a pork filet with Korean barbecue sauce are "cooked to perfection," and the sauces "truly [bring] out the essence of the dish." To finish, a "must-try" bittersweet flourless chocolate cake tastes like a "cozy autumn day." [Daily Herald]