Phil Vettel has nothing but good things to say about Monteverde in his three-star review. To start, octopus skewered with Japanese sweet potato over peperonata is a "nice light bite" and stuffed cabbage over porcini-mushroom Bolognese sauce is equally "delightful." The delicious and "affordable" pastas include an "irresistible" cannelloni saltimbocca and a "whimsical" cacio whey pepe packed with more "extra flavor" than other versions. The star of the show though is the "must-try" ragu alla napoletana, an enormous bowl of fusilli pasta in a "rich, soul-nurturing" tomato sauce with a "hefty" pork shank, three huge sausages and meatballs. Desserts are simple but sweet with a "terrific" butterscotch budino being the standout. [Tribune]
The Blanchard is a "terrific modern brasserie" showcasing Jason Paskewitz's skills. Jeff Ruby praises the "wonderful" boeuf bourguignon featuring "exquisitely braised" short rib with glazed beets and baby carrots, while the crème de champignons is an "audacious" bowl of porcini cream with dried trumpet mushrooms, brioche crouton and wisp of crème fraiche. A seared lobe of foie gras with sweet plum compote, anise and vanilla gastrique is "heaven" and the poulet roti boasts "exemplary crisp skin and juicy-tender meat." Desserts "venture into three-star land" with "deft" molten chocolate cakes and a "beautiful" coconut financier served with vanilla ice cream.
Ruby also check out Boeufhaus, where the meaty ones are not the only dishes that impress. An "inspired composition" of cavatelli is a "gorgeous" heap of paprika-tinged pasta with merguez, caramelized shallots, fried chickpeas and caciocavallo. Likewise, a sweet raw fluke appetizer is enlivened with pan-seared capers and parsley. When it comes to the mains, a "hulking" 40 oz. porchetta is "delicious, absurd overkill" that's like a "coliseum of pig" and the 55-day aged rib eye is "impeccable seared" prime beef "punched up" with peppercorns and charred fat. A lovely bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and sea salt caramel sauce rounds out the meal. [Chicago]
Anthony Todd thinks Pata Negra leaves a lot to be desired. The sit-down restaurant inside Latinicity offers a selection of tapas that aren’t "quite right" and definitely "not worth a special trip." Patatas bravas are ruined by a huge dollop of "almost-inedible mayonnaise that [adds] nothing to the dish," tortilla espanola is finished with "so much salt that it [is] difficult to eat," and wagyu brochettes are "overcooked, chewy" and covered in a chimichurri that tastes like what Todd imagines green crayons would taste. He suggests sticking with just the iberico meats, which are "large portions of amazing ham [that] are worth every penny," and cheeses. In the end, the restaurant falls short of its promise and tapas fiends would be better off at other places like Mercat a la Planxa. [Chicagoist]
Logan Square's Serai has brought Malaysian cuisine back to Chicago and is doing it "quite a lot better than its suburban competitors," writes Mike Sula. A Hainanese chicken and rice dish goes the extra mile by "[infusing] with the richness of the bird's boiling medium" and nasi goreng—fried rice with shrimp paste—has a "satisfying background funk" and is topped with a crispy omelet. Curry laksa is loaded with shrimp, chicken, fish balls, barbecued pork and more in a spicy coconut milk soup while Sichuan-style three-chile fish filets are "so sweet and crunchy it belongs in a supermarket snack aisle." For dessert, a "scarfable bowl" of inky-black rice in a moat of warm, salted coconut milk is a "nicely surprising contrast." [Reader]
Fast-casual Bang Chop is serving "quick, inexpensive, taste-bud arousing meals in a relaxed setting," according to Joanne Trestrail. The new West Loop Thai spot focuses on a selection of favorites such as a "fine, light" tom kha soup and a spicy green curry with jasmine rice that "hits its target, lively" with eggplant, bamboo shoots, basil and tofu. Krabi pad thai is "no jaded rendition" and its stir-fried noodles have a "nice pan-taste resonance" while Holy Thai basil chicken is another winner. Finish with sweet sticky rice or a Thai iced tea for a cheap and satisfying lunch. [Crain's]