Underneath all of the sauce, Mike Sula thinks that while the meat at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que "isn't transcendent, it can be good." The brisket "ranks among the best in the city" and is "unashamedly fatty, with a dark, crispy bark and a lacy interior that holds its juices like a sponge." Unfortunately, it arrives smothered in a "sugary sauce," which Sula recommends asking for on the side. Likewise, inconsistent ribs range from good to "meat Jell-O" and the "candy-sweet" coating "degrades any savory bark they might have built up in the smoker."
Other menu items include Korean-style smoked and lamb shoulder that "would be a truly memorable twist on barbecue if it weren't served in such a insultingly small portion." Sides are hit and miss as well: the mac ‘n' cheese is on point with its "funky" four-cheese blend while a fermented cabbage salad is a "sweet alternative" to coleslaw but "oversweet beans" are "cooked down to a point where they become porridge" and a "soupy" cauliflower and sweet potato curry is "barely cooked." For dessert, an "unattractive but surprisingly rich" chocolate icebox pie rounds things out. [Reader]
The Broken Shaker is a "comfy place that anyone can wander into and feel at home," writes Heather Schroering. The new spot inside the Freehand is the second location of the heralded Miami bar and offers a cozy, "bohemian, Chicago vibe." Cocktails include a Cocoa Puff old fashioned that "taste[s] like the milk left behind after eating a bowl of the popular chocolatey cereal," and the Devonshire Fizz (Rare Tea Cellar, honey, Campari, grapefruit soda, sweet vermouth, tequila), which is the best of the bunch. An al pastor margarita, made with "chorizo cordial," is a "fantastically sweet and vegetal cocktail" also worth ordering but the food menu "seem[s] out of place and pretty contrary to the modesty of the drink menu" with items like $20 pan-roasted quail and $13 cauliflower salad. Instead, Schroering would rather have "some simpler choices that complement the cocktail program." [RedEye]
Rural Society succeeds by highlighting "great ingredients handled in a way that makes them shine with minimal frills." There's a lot for Lisa Shames to like starting with the grilled sweetbreads as well as an octopus carpaccio. Pastas include an excellent canelon negro—squid-ink cannelloni with crab in a tomato sauce—while short ribs under the grilled meats section reward with "rich, smoky flavor in each chew." Sides also delight as grilled wild mushrooms is a good alternative for vegetarians and "crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside" papas nury potatoes are a "nice exotic twist on the norm." The meal ends with a serviceable Chocotorta that's fine yet unmemorable. [CS]