Mike Sula slams Barcocina for its "unthreatening, unchallenging, and uninspiring" take on Mexican cuisine. Just about everything falters: a cheeseburger taco "arrives swaddling underseasoned, dry ground beef" and a mango sauce "with the viscosity of Gerber baby food;" lamb barbacoa is "bland and already overwet;" and chicken tinga is "seasoned for seniors." For good measure, salsas also "lack heat, acid, and salt."
Elsewhere on the menu, fat shrimp quesadillas "bear little trace of their promised ancho seasoning" while a plate of pork and hominy stew fails to harmonize. Drinks include "treacly, undrinkable cocktails" and "mostly pedestrian beers and wines" but a decent mezcal and tequila list. At its core, Sula thinks "there isn’t much respect for the average Chicagoan’s familiarity with regional Mexican food." Ouch. [Reader]
Rural Society lures guests with its "tantalizing aroma" and the open grill "delivers on that promise" according to Jeff Ruby. Empanadas—"bulbous and wonderful"—make fine starters as do other "unexpected standouts" like a tangy Paraguayan parmesan dumpling soup. The "meat parade satisfies" with items like a "shockingly tender" entrana and "juicy" bife de chorizo that are both "perfectly charred" to balance the "powerful flavor." To finish, "appealing desserts" such as a thick dulce de leche flan with shaved chocolate and mango sorbet "push themselves." [Chicago]
The impressive plates coming out of the kitchen at Charlatan are worthy of two stars from Phil Vettel. Although the restaurant looks decidedly un-Italian, dishes like grilled octopus over romesco cause and beef-braised carrots are "not to miss." Beef carpaccio is another excellent starter and chicken liver with roasted strawberries, balsamico, pink peppercorns, sprouts and flatbread "get your attention." Pastas are "extremely good" and include a "terrific" mushroom rotolo as well as squid ink spaghetti with Bolognese-style sauce. Desserts also delight: affogato is "highlighted by very rich" espresso and pistachio biscotti. [Tribune]
Tete Charcuterie’s new lunch menu is "certainly worth a visit," writes Laura Bianchi. Cured meats "melt in your mouth" and sausages are "juicy and robust." A pricey special of bresaola is "exceptional, with a soft, delicate texture and dense, rich flavor," while a charcuterie board for one includes zesty chorizo "with a satisfying burn" and "supple slices" of rosette de Lyon pork salami. Cognac-steeped pate de campagne is a "classic treat" that also makes a "terrific sandwich" on baguettes that taste "as if they came out of Julia Child’s oven." [Crain’s]