Bom Bolla "comes closer to evoking the spirit of a Barcelona tapas bar" than any other recent Spanish opening according to Mike Sula. Red prawns are "salted and blazed scarlet," thumb-size chorizos are fired "until they nearly erupt at the touch" and eggplant is reduced to a "smoky, creamy baba-ganoush-like consistency" and doused with sherry vinegar and paprika. Other snacks include bocadillos filled with "meaty slabs" of grilled pork belly, preserved lemon and manchego, and montaditos topped with custardy eggs and trout roe. To complement all the salty snacks, Bom Bolla offers some 29 different kinds of cava wines and also "boasts perhaps the most varied selection of Spanish booze in the city." [Reader]
Phil Vettel thinks Cherry Circle Room will "become an excellent restaurant" but the service is currently "maddeningly inconsistent, prone to the sort of gaffes that distract diners" from its fine qualities. Octopus with Korean-pepper marinade and chunks of sweet pineapple has a "sweet-spicy interplay" that "pull[s] the dish away from its Mediterranean roots" while coarse-chopped beef tartare "has a better mouthfeel than many versions" and is enhanced by shaved aged gouda for an increased "umami factor." Leg of lamb for two is a "superior cut of meat with a delicious lamb jus reduction" and an "impressive version" of duck is served with a roasted plum sauce.
Desserts are "sensational, artful, photo-worthy" creations and include a "gorgeous" deconstructed carrot cake, whose "undulating curves seem to mimic the dimensions of the dining room." Unfortunately, the overall experience is marred by service that's inattentive and shows there's still "some work to do." Vettel awards one star but remarks there's "potential to be so much more." [Tribune]
There are many new bars in town but "none are serving cocktails quite as interesting as Broken Shaker," writes Amy Cavanaugh. The menu is "packed with balanced, successful drinks" that help elevate it to "among Chicago's best bars." Some of the drink combinations "sound out there, but the flavors work in harmony" like the Risky Business, gin "punched up" with umeboshi vinegar, pickles and herbal Balsam Amaro. Another standout is the "funky" banana rum Manhattan and a "deeply flavored" sherry cobbler is Cavanaugh's personal favorite. To eat, a "simple and manageable" burger does the job while a snack of crispy chickpeas, hominy and caperberries is a take on papas bravas. [TOC]