Ixcateco Grill isn't reinventing Mexican cuisine but it's a "welcome present" for Albany Park, according to Mike Sula. The new restaurant from former Frontera vet Anselmo Ramirez starts with chunky sweet-and-sour tomatillo salsa and "piercingly hot" yellow habanero salsa that "create a nice balance of pleasure and pain." Picaditas are a "likeable bite" of masa boats piled with chicken carnitas while the signature stygian mole, paired with "moist and adequately cooked" sliced chicken breast, has "subtle" chile heat and "bitter" chocolate notes. The grill imparts a "good smoke" to shell-on shrimp in tomato sauce that's "herbaceous" with epazote but desserts are "less appealing" as ice creams have a "glossy, artificial texture that diminishes their individual flavors." [Reader]
Cherry Circle Room is a "peculiar experience that never quite coalesces," writes Jeff Ruby. A "creative play" on risotto made with farro, fava beans and spring peas served in a sea urchin shell is "gloriously unhinged" but too many other dishes "get undone by carelessness." Misfires range from a "deep reservoir" of roasted plum sauce "gunk[ing] up otherwise lovely" medallions of glazed duck with confit leg to a double-cut Chateaubriand that's "mangled" tableside and left "cold and destroyed." Fortunately, drinks "hit their marks" and the "ambitious" desserts include an "impressive" deconstructed carrot cake.
Remington's "doesn't break any new ground" but the safe menu is just fine for the Michigan Avenue crowds. "Predictable starters at pumped-up prices" include a spinach-artichoke dip that "tastes as if it came straight from Houlihan's up the street" and a "weird but ingenious" salad of blanched Brussels sprouts with fried blueberries, bacon-flavored almonds and shredded Manchego "effortlessly balances unlikely flavors." An 18-ounce bone-in strip steak features "glorious" char lines and a "brazen layer" of fat while a "terrifically flaky" branzino is also worth ordering. To finish, the "rich and top-notch" Key lime pie has a "perfect" buttery graham cracker crust and "punchy" lime. [Chicago]
The recently relaunched Best Intentions" retains the charm and feel of a no-frills dive" bar while delivering quality cocktails at the same time. Heather Schroering enjoys the "authentic down-home feel" and a menu full of original drink creations as well as classics. She praises brothers Calvin and Chris Marty for managing to capture the "broken-in vibe in a way most newer bars can't" and proving that "good cocktailing doesn't ruin the sacred corner tavern." In short, it's everything new dives should strive to be. [RedEye]
Joanne Trestrail thinks The Promontory is "overconcepted and underexecuted." It begins with a "minuscule" pour of "tepid" sweet-corn bisque and a "ho-hum" house green salad. A "stingy" fried-chicken sandwich contains only the meat of a single thigh and some bacon and is served with "wildly salty" fries. Service is also "unserviceable" and she wonders if the restaurant is "perhaps trying too hard to fit in." A second visit brings better results as a French omelet is "quite good" and a lamb burger has "juicy meat smartly complemented" with smoked feta, black olive tapenade and pickled red onions. Overall, there are still issues to work out but Trestrail hopes the Promontory can morph into "Longman & Eagle South." [Crain's]