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Leña Brava Packs a Punch; Sula Slams Little Beet Table

The two spots offer disparate experiences

Two chefs cook in an open kitchen in the back of a restaurant space
Leña Brava
Galdones Photography

Leña Brava is an "intoxicating" experience that simply excels from start to finish, writes Lisa Shames. The eclectic menu offers a range of "very delicious" dishes, starting with oysters that pop with "superb briny flavor" and shrimp aguachile that’s "sweet, spicy and acidic at the same time." Octopus "retains its tenderness but also has a welcome bit of chew to it" and "reminds one of how great it can be when done right," while black cod has "bright flavors." Desserts bring "plenty of creativity" and feature a honey cream tart paired with red and gold plums. The drinks program includes "one of the city’s best selections of mezcals," with Shames enjoying the "tart and subtly smoky" Leña fire cocktail. [Chicago Social]

Mike Sula thinks Little Beet Table is an unmitigated mess. Cauliflower showered with popcorn and pepitas is a "grayish-tan slick of something you’d take a wide berth from if you saw it on the sidewalk," and brussels sprouts are overcooked, underseasoned and undercaramelized. A wild shrimp curry tastes like it’s "haunted by the ghost of a masala" while a trio of tacos with chipotle corn carnitas, apple kimchi, squash, black beans and avocado crema feels like the "person who conceived it [has] never experienced a taco before." But the "cruelest joke" is dessert in the form of a salted chocolate cookie over a sundae, "which resembles a toddler’s modeling project built with chocolate mousse and Grinch-colored mint ice cream." [Reader]

Little Beet Table

845 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

Lena Brava

900 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

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