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Umami Burger Worthy of Hype; Sula Rips River Roast's Chicken; More

The new California chain packs a punch with its burgers.

Nick Fochtman

Umami Burger’s "considerably fine" burgers live up to the hype bestowed upon them."Juicy is an understatement" when describing the patties and the buns are "unexpectedly sweet and buttery." While the Original Burger is "overwhelmed by its roasted tomato," the Truffle Burger is "purely sinful" and the "exceptional" Manly Burger is loaded with cheddar sauce, bacon lardons and crispy onion strings.

Sweet potato fries are a "bit pedestrian" but Truffle fries are "heaven" and the regular fries are "crispy and nicely salty, mixing beautifully" with the dipping sauces. Other menu items include a maple-bacon old fashioned that "wonderfully holds back its saltiness until late in each sip," and cheesy tots stuffed with cheddar and parmesan that are available off-menu and shouldn't be missed. [RedEye]

Mike Sula recommends everything except the "disappointing" roasts at River Roast. The "galling" $39 chicken is "especially puzzling" with legs that are "dry and pull apart like jerky, while the breast meat is devoid of any sort of moisture to remind you that it was once a living being." The fish doesn’t fare much better, overcooked to the point of having "life chased out of it."

Instead, order the charred Treviso radicchio salad—a "power salad" that shows the "restaurant isn’t afraid to challenge diners"—or a simple crock of mushrooms that "taste more like chicken than the star of the show does." It’s not all bad for the roasts though as the beef is "shimmery red" slabs with a "salty crust" that’s "evidence the kitchen isn’t just playing with fire." [Reader]

On the contrary, Laura Bianchi thinks River Roast is off to a hot start. There’s a "gentle twist" on the Cubano sandwich with horseradish sauce, smoked roasted pork, Chihuahua cheese and housemade chorizo for some "excitement." The star of the show is the 3 ½ lb. free range chicken with "irresistibly crisp" skin and "moist and juicy" breast meat. It’s served with roasted potatoes for "Sunday dinner at home without the work." Seafood is also excellent as octopus and calamari are cooked until "just tender" and tossed with shrimp, hearts of palm and dressing, but a few missteps include a "yawner" of a sliced sirloin sandwich. [Crain’s]

While Soho House won’t wow diners, Amy Cavanaugh thinks it’s an "affordable spot without a wait for tables" that "may be what Randolph Street was missing." The space includes three public restaurants, each with a "few good reasons for visiting."

The Allis is an all-day space to spend an afternoon or drop in for a pre-dinner drink. $12 afternoon tea service offers an "absurd amount of food—three mini sandwiches, a scone, a brownie, a chocolate chip cookie, a slice of cake and two cups of tea." It won't win any awards but it's a bargain nonetheless.

Upstairs at Pizza East, an heirloom tomato salad is a great starter full of ripe tomatoes and big chunks of bread with a "salty punch" from anchovies and capers. $18 charcuterie is also a "good deal" with "sizable servings" of cheese and meats, but a burrata, tomato and black-olive pizza is "fairly flavorless" and quickly falls apart.

Finally at Chicken Shop, the simple menu consists of "well-seasoned but on the drier side" rotisserie chicken and a few sides. For dessert, the apple pie is "decent but the presentation was an absolute mess" of a show. Cocktails like the Bourbon & Lemonade also have an "overabundance of citrus and [need] more sugar to balance them out." [TOC]

River Roast

315 North La Salle Street, , IL 60654 (312) 822-0100 Visit Website

Soho House Chicago

113-125 North Green Street, , IL 60607 (312) 521-8000 Visit Website