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Sula Says Dos Urban Cantina Elevates Mexican; TOC Terms Oyster Bah a New Seafood Essential; More

Plus Phil Vettel reviews Swift & Sons and The Finery.

Dos Urban Cantina
Dos Urban Cantina
Marc Much

Dos Urban Cantina is "taking Mexican food to places it's never been before." Mike Sula has nothing but love for items such as "hearty, earthy" grilled Japanese mushrooms and chestnut corn bread "amplified by a thin, but intricate red mole." Chef Brian Enyart also "goes deep, exploring bitter, thick moles and intense flavors" on other dishes like goat meatballs in a stygian black mole "buoyed by airy" masa gnudi.

"Subtle mashups too seamless and complementary to be described" include "gnarly" chicharrones standing in a thick French onion yogurt dip as well as chunks of "juicy" chayote wallowing in a peanut mole that "recalls Chinese sesame noodles." For "bursts of pure sunshine," a "gorgeous mosaic" of raw scallops "looks like a supernova and is a taste explosion." And ending on a stellar note, the dark piloncillo sugar pie is an "early favorite for top dessert of 2016." [Reader]

Oyster Bah keeps impressing critics with its bevy of quality seafood. This time, it's Amy Cavanaugh's turn to praise the "expertly" prepared dishes that range from New England stuffed clams to steamed crab legs. Oysters "teeming with liquor" also shine and "pop" with a drop of stout granite while the crispy one-sided red snapper is a "scene-stealer." The drink list includes a "lovely reclaimed version" of the Cape Cod cocktail—made with vodka, cranberry juice, sage and lemon—and on the whole Cavanaugh thinks the new Lettuce Entertain You spot could become her new "go-to seafood joint." [TOC]

Swift & Sons is another home run by the Boka Group and B. Hospitality Co. Phil Vettel loves the "superb" beef Wellington encased in a "magnificent, golden" pastry shell, saying he’s "never had a better version of this dish." Likewise, a 22 oz. ribeye will "curl your toes" while "well-trimmed, full-flavored" lamb chops are a "very-good" non-steak entrée. "Unexpected treats" include ricotta dumplings with kuri squash and a "particularly good" hot platter with shrimp-mousse-stuffed langoustine and espelette-topped oysters. Meg Galus provides a sweet and satisfying finish with her "clever deconstruction" of Boston cream pie and an S & S Cracker Jack creation featuring peanut butter mousse, salted caramel, caramel corn and popcorn-infused sherbet.

Vettel also takes a trip out to St. Charles and finds The Finery & Blacksmith Bar to be an "oasis of warmth" for the winter. The rustic American eatery offers a "fine" charcuterie platter alongside other starters like sumac-seasoned lamb chops and "delicious" seared tuna over brioche toast, cannellini beans, salsa verde and breakfast radishes. The "entrée to order" is the roast pheasant while the American bouillabaisse full of prawns, shrimp, scallops, mussels and fish is also worth trying. Desserts are "so good, and so pretty" that it's worth a stop alone to for the sweets. They include almond pound cake with pistachio wafers, wine-soaked cherries and brown-butter ice cream, as well as buttermilk panna cotta topped with pine nuts, preserved mango and pomegranate seeds. [Tribune]

Oyster Bah

1962 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Swift & Sons

1000 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 733-9420 Visit Website

Dos Urban Cantina

2829 West Armitage Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-6452 Visit Website