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Roister Shines With Simplicity; Blue Door Kitchen Lacks 'Wow' Factor; More

Plus ambitious Steadfast pays off and the Victor Bar is a cozy hangout

Matthew Gilson

Despite its casual setting, Roister pushes the envelope and "fills the mind with questions." Lisa Shames wonders how the kitchen manages to "make simple-sounding dishes so delicious." For instance, "really, really good" tomato bread topped with mayo, shallots, pecan oil and tomatoes is "prepared with the utmost respect, drawing out the most flavor from each [ingredient]." Buttered pipe pasta and clams are elevated with wasabi tobiko and green chili ragout, while the whole chicken served three ways is a "trifecta of chicken goodness." Even French fries are reinvented—crispy Yukon wedges are topped with tofu mayo and a dusting of bonito flakes. For dessert, a "decadent" foie gras chocolate candy bar is an Instagram-worthy delight. [CS]

Blue Door Kitchen & Garden is now "less formal, less Southern and, truly, less Art Smith-y.," Phil Vettel writes. With chef Rey Villalobos at the helm, the menu has transitioned toward "Midwest dishes, along with French technique and Middle Eastern inspirations." Vettel calls the Brussels sprouts and kale salad a "triumph" that's "crunchy, delicious and shareable," but assures readers that Smith favorites like the buttermilk fried chicken remain. Those "perfectly bronze, heavenly crunchy" pieces of chicken are a "thing of joy" while the fried-chicken sandwich is a "great lunch option." Pan-seared salmon is also "worth your attention" and braised short ribs served with green beans over potato pave is a "nice riff" on steak au poivre. Overall, the restaurant is "impossible to dislike, but the rather conservative menu is missing that wow factor." [Tribune]

Steadfast is an ambitious restaurant that’s a perfect spot for lunch in the Loop, writes Joanne Trestrail. The midday options are "as inventive and impressively executed as [the] dinner offerings," using produce grown on a rooftop garden to deliver "pops of flavor in sometimes unexpected places." Artisan breads are a "delightful" and "mood-enhancing starter" that pair well with house-cured charcuterie. Among entrees, wood-roasted suckling pig is "deeply delicious" while red snapper with dilled compressed apples and black garlic broth "makes an even more vivid impression." To finish, pastry chef Chris Teixeira "shows real flair" on a "tour-de-force presentation" of sage cake with bee-pollen cream with white chocolate. [Crain’s]

The Victor Bar is a cozy, comfortable hideout suited for date nights. Knowledgeable servers "aren’t afraid to tell you their honest thoughts" but Elizabeth Atkinson suggests sticking with the herbaceous cocktails like the "On The Grass" with gin, aquavit, celery and lime. The old-fashioneds will also "do you well," made with rye, mescal, rum or brandy. Atkinson thinks that "in a neighborhood filled with boisterous beer bars, maybe a place to cuddle up is what North Center needs." [TOC]

Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

52 W Elm St, Chicago, IL 60610 (312) 573-4000


951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 789-4896


120 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603 (773) 489-5050 Visit Website