Bar Siena is a killer scene "worth checking out," writes Michael Nagrant. "Tender and smoky" grilled octopus is complemented by shishito peppers that are "grassy, sweet and spicy" while a "deliciously runny" scotch egg is encased in housemade prosciutto sausage. The pies are "some of the best Neapolitan pizzas in town" with the prosciutto fig option "yield[ing] one of the most satisfying and balanced slices [Nagrant’s] eaten all year." Likewise, pastas are "incredible" and include a bowl of duck mac ‘n’ cheese dripping with "richer-than-Warren-Buffett" foie gras cream.
Desserts are also so good they "could be the basis of their very own bakery." The bombolini are "better than any doughnut" from the various shops around town; caramel-noted honeycomb gelato "rivals the best of Black Dog Gelato’s offerings;" and chocolate chip cannoli is "the best cannoli [he’s] had since Pasticceria Natalina closed." As for drinks, an "eminently refreshing" No. 5 cocktail hits the spot. [RedEye]
Phil Vettel enjoys the "simple, bright and clean flavors" from Chef Aaron Martinez at Intro. The three-star meal starts with a lovely tomato and melon composition alongside a king salmon course with kohlrabi, dill and mustard ice cream that leaves one wondering "how can I do this at home?" Proteins like striped bass under a leaf of cabbage and sous vide "rib of beef," with the "mouth-soothing unctuousness of a rib-eye," also bring "excitement." An optional course of "unimaginable [tender]" abalone with mushrooms in a lime broth is "worth the splurge," while desserts include a "lighter-than-light" lemon-thyme sorbet in a pool of chamomile soda. [Tribune]
Taste of Thai Town has a lot to live up to but unfortunately it "isn't the face of Thai cuisine in Chicago its founder [Arun Sampanthavivat] envisioned." Mike Sula thinks dishes are "so inconsistent" that it feels like "eating in a different restaurant each time." Fiery chicken wings are smothered in a "tame, chunky" chile paste and "rubbery" and chicken soup tom kha gai is "so milky and innocuous" it seems like straight coconut milk. Likewise, green curry lacks "both the chile heat and umami-intensifying fish sauce you'd expect in a proper bowl" while even pad Thai is an "unlovely gob of oversweeteneed noodles."
To find the more interesting items, he orders from special list not on the regular menu. A stewed pork hock dish khao kha mu is the "most soulful thing" Sula tries—full of "luscious" pulled trotter meat, shiitake mushrooms, pickled cabbage and Chinese broccoli—and a turmeric-and-lemongrass-spiked pepper pork curry is "exactly the kind of thing Sampanthavivat should be introducing his guests to more of." Instead, Sula laments there are just too much of the same noodles, salads and appetizers found in places all around the city. [Reader]