Michael Taus brings his skills to Wicker Park with Taus Authentic and impresses CS with his globally-inspired menu. There’s Aunt Reba’s fried chicken, featuring "some of the crispiest and juiciest bird parts" Lisa Shames has had in a while, that’s full of "terrific flavor and texture." A foie gras appetizer layers foie with slices of brioche, Nueske’s’ bacon and oven-dried tomatoes, while an "elegant, fun and delicious" diver scallop dish pairs raw scallop with watermelon radish and green apple.
For seafood entrees, a "perfectly seared" piece of fluke is enhanced by a Korean-style rice-flour pancake, caramelized cauliflower and chile vinaigrette. And to finish, sweets range from a deconstructed chocolate cake to lemon goat-cheese kolachky with fruit dumplings and poppy-seed ice cream. [CS]
Portage Park’s Community Tavern brings steakhouse staples to the neighborhood with varying results. There are "gems" like a double cheeseburger that "hits all the right flavors and textures" and is everything Amy Cavanaugh wants in a burger, as well as a cheddar bacon muffin that’s more like a "lovely, buttery brioche." But the wedge salad is an "unappealing landslide" of thick nubs of chewy bacon, tomatoes and cheddar; a cauliflower side dish is "goopy;" and the meat in the steak frites is "missing salt." There’s also a "very good" beer list and "affordably priced" wines, both of which are recommended over the "weak" and "watery" cocktails. [TOC]
Out in Palos Heights, Harvest Room chef Jonathan Harootunian is "pulling out some of the stops," writes Phil Vettel. Peking pork is a "fun riff" of hoisin-glazed pork belly, scallion pancakes, Fresno chilies and pickled lotus root for a dish of "assertive flavors combined with postmodern presentation." Tuna sashimi is an "exercise in textures" with different offerings of fish; the dinner burger is "simply a great burger;" and steak bravas features "excellent" grass-fed beef topped with "brightly acidic" salsa verde. To finish, the mousse noir is a "true indulgence" of dark chocolate spongecake layered with semisweet-chocolate buttercream, topped with Luxardo cherries and a little black pepper. [Tribune]