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Reader: Pub Royale is a Surprise Hit; Oak + Char's 'Powerful Flavors' Impress Vettel; More

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Plus C Chicago's stellar lunch and seafood options.

Pub Royale
Pub Royale
Marc Much

Mike Sula thinks Pub Royale is "surprisingly good for a bar situated on a soulless stretch of Division Street." The menu is full of "small, inexpensive snacks" as well as large plates that impress. Lamb dumplings "bulge" with braised and shred meat while the "full-flavored" flesh is countered by chili oil and soy sauce. Two excellent dishes feature housemade paneer "unlike any [Sula's] ever encountered," served both in a "rich, buttery" red curry and as an "extraordinary" saag paneer. Other delights include garlicky naan "that's as good as any wood-fired pizza crust" and a cider-braised rabbit pie with a "wet but sumptuous" interior. For drinks, an "impressive, ever-changing" draft selection is a perfect companion to the food. [Reader]

Oak + Char has a "deftly executed menu that's approachable without being predictable," writes Phil Vettel. Chef Joseph Heppe excels with a "fondness for powerful flavors and a knack for adding interest to the mundane." His beef tartare "has an assertive edge other versions lack" and beef heart tartine is like "Bruschetta Gone Wild," featuring grilled pumpernickel slices smothered with chopped meat, white anchovies and greens. Pastas include a "fine" ravioli doppio filled with ricotta and shiitake mushrooms over sweet-pea puree while entrees such as a "richly flavored" smoked chicken and "outstanding" double cheeseburger are also worthy of attention. A simple pot de crème with pistachio cookies is a nice ending to the meal at a restaurant that Vettel muses "may have a long future." [Tribune]

C Chicago is a knockout that soars according to Joanne Trestrail. "Masterful" dishes litter the menu starting with an "elegant plate" of tuna tartare that's "bright with flavor;" chilled English pea soup that's a "springy delight;" and octopus a la plancha that "puts rubbery versions you might have endured elsewhere to shame." Baked Aleutian cod is a "dazzler" Scottish salmon with smoked roe, pea tendrils and verjus also wows. Even non-seafood dishes hit the mark: a "wonderfully juicy" herb-roasted Amish chicken is brined and flash-fried for "crackly skin." [Crain's]

Pub Royale

2049 West Division Street, , IL 60622 (773) 661-6874 Visit Website

Oak + Char

217 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 643-2427 Visit Website

C Chicago

20 W Kinzie, Chicago, IL (312) 280-8882