Michael Nagrant sings the praises of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, where the "quality of the smoked meats ranks" with the city's best. Beef brisket is "[bleep]ing unbelievable," dripping "moist, peppery juices" and the St. Louis ribs feature "crackling meat-candy skin on the underside." Items specific to the Chicago menu include hacked jerk ribs and "satisfying" twice-cooked lamb shoulder that's marinated with gochujang and has a "depth of flavor."
Other favorites like the pit-smoked chicken wings should be "considered a standard" for parties while fried green tomatoes are "crispy, piquant" and topped with pecorino-romano. Sides don't fare as well though as curried cauliflower and sweet potato is "mushy and need[s] some kind of crunchy contrasting component," and the Harlem potato salad and mac ‘n' cheese offerings could use more salt. For dessert, cheesecake is "light, almost fluffy" and a peanut butter pie is "richer than the combined bank accounts of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates." [RedEye]
Presidio "doesn't make a terribly strong impression on any front," Mike Sula writes, but it's a "relaxing spot with decent cocktails and food" in an area devoid of much else. Cavatelli is tossed with rapini, sweet peppers and ground pork, and triangles of caramelized baked polenta are "textural pleasures unto themselves—crispy on the outside, creamy in the middle" but dressed with confounding ricotta and shimeji mushrooms. Entrees are solid like the bone-in pork chops with sweet-and-sour cabbage topped with chunky pear vinaigrette, while the "best thing" on the menu is a simple prime beef burger with melted American cheese.
Desserts feature a "thin, almost liquid" panna cotta that's "redeemed" by a sprinkling of black sea salt. Instead, a "more satisfying way to finish off an evening" is with a shot of Fernet. As for the beverage program, the original drinks incorporate "subtle and unusual fruit and vegetable elements without leaning too sweet" and include the 8 Track Mixtape that "tastes like a banana old-fashioned" with its plantain and clove flavors. [Reader]
Phil Vettel raves about Naha and awards it four stars. The tasting and prix-fixe menus offer highlights such as a tuna tartare topped with pureed potatoes and sturgeon caviar, which "gives the dish a flavor range that few can match." Likewise, a salad of Italian burrata, Iowa prosciutto, Medjool dates and local gooseberries is "too good to ignore." Moving onto entrees, roasted squab is complemented with kurobuta pork belly and purple sweet potatoes for "one of the best dishes" Vettel's eaten in a long time." Equally impressive is the "delicate and subtle" halibut supported by aromatic carrots, Japanese turnips, salsify and a mushroom consommé.
Even the lunch menu contains hits like "arguably the best burger in town" and a BLT with brown sugar-lacquered Nueske's bacon that's akin to "what a McRib tastes like in heaven." Desserts don't hold back either: the "moist and buttery" sbrisolona is like "nibbling the most wonderful coffeecake in the world" while "impossibly delicate" goat cheese and lemon cheesecake is served with a scoop of carrot-cardamom sorbet. [Tribune]
Seven Lions is a "high-energy experience with loads of Chicago personality." Laura Bianchi thinks the lively, American clubhouse restaurant "makes a good first impression" with its crystal chandeliers, antique mirrors and "luxuriously roomy" booths. The menu features "appealing and well-executed" dishes like a "commendable" seared tuna nicoise salad and a "memorable tender, rich" beef tongue Reuben. Similarly, the classic omelet with crisp hash browns is "good, basic comfort food" while crab cakes Benedict with hash browns, poached eggs and salad is "rich and plentiful enough for a big appetite." [Crain's]