Intro is off to a good start with CJ Jacobson’s menu that’s a "refreshing and focused alternative to your usual four-hour-stomach-busting multi-course extravaganzas." The new Lettuce Entertain You restaurant’s concept kicks off with the Top Chef star and Michael Nagrant enjoys the rustic, locally foraged cuisine. Briny fluke topped with bitter, spicy radish and cubes of avocado is an "explosion of balanced, clean and refreshing flavors" while aronia berries lift the "sweet, beefy" oxtail broth in a plate of rutabaga "ramen."
The meal finishes with two "unimpeachable courses." A lobster course features buttery lobster’s claw and tail meat covered in buttermilk whey and accompanied by black trumpet mushroom and a cumin-spiced, garlicky sauce. Dessert wows with fizzy kombucha, cool juniper snow and rich chocolate fudge garnished with sunflower petals, an ending Nagrant calls "one of the more imaginative and satisfying" he’s had in a while. [RedEye]
Formento’s is a divided experience with food that sometimes takes "puzzling" liberties with classic Italian-American dishes. Mike Sula thinks the pastas are a "mixed bag:" orecchiette with sausage and rapini are "done well" but timpano is "poorly executed," its shell as "stiff as cardboard." Tuna tetrazzini "bears no resemblance to the original casserole" and lacks any pasta in the dish while chicken Vesuvio is "needlessly deconstruct[ed]" by separating the bird from the potato wedges and pan juices.
Other items are more agreeable and include a "terrific" wedding soup with "silky" chicken meatballs; rabbit cacciatore served in a "rich and savory" sugo; and quail saltimbocca wrapped in prosciutto that’s "one winning twist on the original." Desserts are "large enough to weigh down the doggie bag," from a "towering" chocolate layer cake to a "huge slab" of spumoni. [Reader]
Jeff Ruby thinks Momotaro is a stunning restaurant with a vast menu and plenty of good options. An "unflashy but excellent" katsuo tataki is an excellent starter, as is the wagyu wrapped around "supple" sea urchin and seasoned with shiso ohba. An "impossibly rich" miso soup is loaded with tofu and nameko mushrooms while the washugyu skewer is a "sumptuous explosion" of foie gras and skirt steak. Similarly, Dungeness crab with mayo and shishitos will make you roll your eyes in ecstasy. The only misfires are in the sushi where a "merely OK" omakase selection is "simply not memorable," although a wonderful toro tartare "comes across almost as savory ice cream." For dessert, a moist yuzu cake with dehydrated blood oranges, tapioca balls and Greek yogurt sorbet is worth trying.
Japonais by Morimoto offers many choices on the menu as well, and while "not all of it makes sense together … the whimsy trumps the disconnect," Ruby writes. A "crafty take" on Buffalo wings includes rock shrimp tempura, spicy kochujang sauce and wasabi and "masterpieces" include Angry Chicken, a half bird pan cooked and served with puffed rice curlicues and shishito peppers. Ishi yaki buri bop is "tremendous" but "half-assed" misfires like a "bland" sashimi Caesar salad and a "preposterous" toro tartare in a petri dish keep things from being perfect. As for the sushi, stick with maki rolls or skip straight to a "wholly satisfying" honey tamale with crispy rice, gelato, kumquats and honey-rosemary powder. [Chicago]