French cuisine rarely excites these days but The Blanchard is "full of surprises" and "pregnant with possibilities," writes Mike Sula. The dishes are "lush, luxurious echoes of opulence" and include seared foie gras lobe atop brioche French toast with strawberries and vanilla gastrique that's "the most extravagant breakfast you could possibly eat for dinner." Blanquette de veau, braised veal breast in a truffle-scented veloute served with veggies, is "easily among the very best things [Sula's] eaten all year." There are also "very good renderings" of bistro staples like roast chicken and steak frites, which are "simple, hearty, satisfying plates that are in no way incompatible with the splendor of the others." For dessert, chocolate pot de crème is "primevally satisfying" while a moist financier is dabbed with blobs of "achingly sweet" passion fruit curd. [Reader]
Boeufhaus doesn't fit the mold of a traditional steakhouse but it's an excellent experience nonetheless, according to Kevin Pang. The French and German influences are felt as the "cooking technique and plating are more precise" and the menu is "refreshingly devoid" of standard steakhouse dishes. The steaks themselves are "wondrous, a meditation on the very possibilities of beef," with the "deep and brawny" 55-day dry-aged rib eye "designed to cram beef flavor onto every available surface."
A citrus salmon appetizer "takes an inspired risk" with ginger oil, pickled honshimeji mushrooms and crisp chips of salmon skin while an "artfully arranged" crudite is served "simply, satisfyingly" with green goddess dressing. A few misfires like "soggy and limp" boeuf fat fries and "thick, chewy, overcooked and tasting organ-y" duck breast are a little disappointing, but Pang wholly recommends the restaurant for "sing[ing] a different tune." [Tribune]
Lisa Shames thinks new River North spot Dolce Italian is an attention grabber. An octopus starter tossed with celery, faro chickpeas and pistachios is her "new favorite octopus dish" while a "creamy" risotto ai frutti di mare "isn't stingy with its seafood." Likewise, fettuccine Bolognese is a "hit" and roasted Amish chicken is "blue-ribbon worthy," its crispy skins "exud[ing] an exotic flavor that makes you take notice." To finish, desserts include a classic tiramisu and a "more adventurous" polenta cake with yogurt sorbetto. [CS]