Jeff Ruby completely slams C Chicago, calling it "everything that is wrong with restaurants, and humanity." His scathing review of the River North seafood spot starts by going off on the overflow seating area that "looks like the soul-sucking rooms where Days Inn serves its free continental breakfasts," before lamenting on a $74.25 black bass that's "been methodically eviscerated into a mealy, miserable carcass." He also takes offense to $10 sides that only feed one; an A5 Miyazaki steak ruined by citrus demi-glace; and "flavorless" butter-poached lobster sliced into "mushy" quarter-size hunks. To add insult to injury, "every item arrives tepid" and service isn't much better as Ruby says his waiter is "supremely awful." Ouch.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. He thinks Prime & Provisions is a "sound addition" to the steak scene and despite the costs, "it never once feels like a rip-off." The menu hits all the right notes, from "terrific" fresh oysters to a crowd-pleasing fried chicken with "juicy" meat, "abnormally thick and crunchy" skin and a drizzle of maple syrup with chili and bourbon. On the steak side, the "outstanding" bone-in porterhouse is "impeccably smooth beef with a great char and perfect ratio of fat" while other options are equally "moist, tender, and uncomplicated." For dessert, the chocolate and peanut butter pie is a satisfying end to the meal. [Chicago]
Phil Vettel thinks The Blanchard is chef/owner Jason Paskewitz's "best restaurant yet" and will "remind you just how wonderful [French] cuisine can be." The oeuf Outhier is a "sublime" recreation of the famed caviar-egg dish while blanquette de veau, a "blissful" veal dish, is "remarkably tender" and served with king trumpet mushrooms, fried sweetbreads and market vegetables for "firm, crispy and crunchy textures." Similarly, duck a l'orange is another "star dish" and salmon a la Greque is "beautifully handled." Desserts live up to the rest of the meal as well with the best being the coconut financier, a "delicious" cake topped with coconut croquant.
Sink | Swim is a "quiet, unassuming performance" delivering dishes that have an "irreplicable, nearly indecipherable, savoriness." Kevin Pang lauds the use of sea flavoring agents: seaweed provides a "welcome hit of umami" to confit potatoes while brioche with shaved cured egg yolk "come[s] alive" with bits of smoked salmon roe. Two dishes that make the restaurant "worth a second visit" include fish & chips with an "aerated, smooth surface" and a "fabulous" pasta alla chitarra with "near fork-tender" smoked octopus. As expected, drinks are "first rate across the board" with the Painkiller having the "power to elicit audible yeows." [Tribune]
Son of a Butcher has some kinks to work out before it makes the cut, writes Mike Sula. Duds litter the menu like ginger beer-braised beef neck that's "dried-out beef [begging] for some kind of acidity;" hog Wellington that's "so heavy you could bowl a strike with it;" and dry meatballs that "approach the planetary density of Mercury." The restaurant does show skill though on other items such as a skewer of duck hearts slathered in an "intensely floral lavender" barbecue sauce, and minced lamb tartare in a minty aioli that's given "vibrancy" by pickled fennel. Even vegetarians can get in on the action with "clever plays on more flesh-forward options," which include chicharrones made from rice flour and cochinita pibil hummus with annatto and pickled red onions.
The Heavy Feather is a "refined bar" serving drinks from the ‘70s that feels "like the kind of place you want to settle in for a whole evening." Amy Cavanaugh checks out the new spot above Slippery Slope and finds a list of 13 "balanced" drinks like a "velvety" amaretto sour, improved with bourbon and egg white, and a "creamy" grasshopper ice cream drink strengthened by cognac. There are also "very good versions" of an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan but the Cavanaugh's favorite is the Polished Nail, a "richly flavored upgrade" on the Rusty Nail. Even if there's a line to get in, she thinks the "wait is worth it." [TOC]