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Nagrant Thinks GreenRiver is One of Year's Best; Johnny's Grill's Refreshing Update

Michael Nagrant loves the craft cocktails from the new Streeterville restaurant.

GreenRiver
GreenRiver
Galdones Photography

GreenRiver is "most certainly one of the best restaurant launches in Chicago this year," writes Michael Nagrant. The drink list is "the best in-depth cocktail menu" he's seen in a while, featuring winners like the Square Shooter, a "pale-pink elixir" that finishes by "punching [Nagrant] in the gut with assertive, bitter, smoky grapefruit and vanilla endnotes." Similarly, he "absolutely love[s]" the Carpano Bianco and Japanese plum vinegar highball that tastes like a "fizzy syrup of almond, chocolate and ripe fruit."

Complementing the cocktails is a menu of refined classics such as "deeply caramelized" scallops with a "satisfying crunchy crust similar to crème brulee," and a saffron spaghetti with uni and "plump, briny Manila clams" that can't be slurped down fast enough. Overall, it's "one of Chicago's best cocktail bars" suited for a "special occasion with elegant offerings" or after-work drinks with "reasonably priced" oysters and "well-crafted" cocktails. [RedEye]

Sarah Jordan has elevated Johnny's Grill's menu while keeping the restaurant's charm and fundamentals. Mike Sula says the burger is "different, with smashed patties" that are full of "mineral-rich beefiness enrobed in melted cheddar" and a schmear of Dijonnaise. "Delicate, flaky" fish is "held together well under a firm but not overwhelming batter" and accompanied by "soft and creamy" chips while other diner staples such as buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote are "tremendously fluffy." Jordan also deftly produces a "refreshing" gazpacho that's "thick and emulsified with olive oil" and "could pass in far more upscale environments than this one." The "down-to-earth" desserts include a doughnut of the day, an ice creams sundae and a "dense" chocolate pie with "commensurately dense" crust. [Reader]

Amy Cavanaugh also thinks "you'll find some things to like at Johnny's, along with some things that aren't quite polished yet." There's a "solid" Irish breakfast of Spencer's Jolly Posh meats, eggs toast and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes but the "clear standout" is the fish and chips, an excellent version with "crisp, golden batter that adheres perfectly to the flaky fish." Despite Jordan's pedigree, desserts are "oddly a letdown" as ice cream is "icy instead of creamy," doughnuts are "dry" and the chocolate pie is "overwhelmed" with chocolate ice cream. Instead, she recommends "end[ing] the meal on a high note with the charming" Pop Tart. [TOC]

GreenRiver

259 E Erie St Fl 18, Chicago, IL 60611

Johnny's Grill

2545 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (773) 278-2215

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