Acanto is "definitely one of the best restaurants on Michigan Avenue," according to Michael Nagrant. Pasta is the "best thing" on the menu and includes spaghetti with duck-egg gravy, rapini and tender bits of pork neck and shoulder, and black pepper rigatoni covered in toasted breadcrumbs and "comforting silky bits" of spicy braised lamb. A salad of octopus, radish, jammy figs and fresno chili "look[s] and taste[s] like it fell out of a high-end tasting menu" while "incredibly tender" suckling pig served three ways "demonstrates the meat prowess of a [chef] who's been studying charcuterie for a while." You'll also want to pair the dishes with nice cocktail such as #3 aperitivi, which tastes like an "orange Crush ice cream float smoked over a campfire."
Dana Moran thinks LQ Chicken Shack doesn't do enough to keep up with the numerous fried chicken joints around town. The chicken is "fine, but not outstanding" with an "unpleasant, tacky layer that [makes] the batter flake off in chunks." Bacon-topped grits are a solid side but roasted potato salad has a "strange flavor" that's "overpowering." Cakey biscuits are excellent and the Kool-Aid Pickle is "sweeter than even the sweetest of sweet pickles" and "nicely balanced with an underlying tangy spike." In the end though, there's little that makes LQ Chicken Shack stand out from the competition. [RedEye]
Fig & Olive is "well worth your attention," writes Lisa Shames. "Be sure to start" with the crostini topped with combinations like manchego-fig-marcona almond and cured salmon with cucumber yogurt. Truffle mushroom croquettes are a "terrific punch of umami" while a yellowfin tuna a la provencale entrée has "powerful flavors" that "come together nicely on the plate." It's the lamb chops that turn the most heads though, arriving in a smoke-filled glass dome with a smoldering branch of rosemary inside. "Beautiful" desserts include a "wonderfully creamy" chocolate pot de crème and a "pretty" berry crostata. [CS]
Jeff Ruby deems Parachute "one of 2014's most promising newcomers." There's "miraculously creamy pate-like" blood sausage as well as fall-off-the-bone pork ribs with yuzu kosho seasoning. A blazing dol sot bibimbap "honor[s]" the Korean staple and manages to "elevate" it while sesame leaves with a bourbon soy sauce are "irresistible nibbles that dissolve on the tongue." The menu's signature hot pot is topped with a "forest's worth" of crown daisies, fresh Gulf shrimp and clams "so large they look straight out of a monster flick," but desserts like a "muddled" Napoleon "could use work."
Ruby also visits Laughing Bird, where an "inconsistent menu" falls short of expectations. Flawed snacks start things off: deviled eggs are "ridiculously oversalty" and empanadas are "drier than an insurance conference in Arizona." A few appetizers stand out like charred octopus with dinuguan sauce, banana peppers and Chinese broccoli for a dish that "mixes delicacy with audacity the way all the best Asian dishes do," and burrata with spring onions and scallions that's a "goofy and brilliant combination." Unfortunately, entrees include a "flaccid" chicken adobo and pancit palabok that's just a "mess" and the "biggest disappointment." Desserts are similarly "all over the place" as a mushy rhubarb crisp looks "like a pie someone had sat on." [Chicago]