Band of Bohemia's "overthought, overcomplicated, and, frankly joyless platings" need some refining before the restaurant can reach its potential, according to Mike Sula. The food, designed to complement the house brews, often lack cohesion and fail to come together into unified dishes, the critic writes. For instance, "delicate" monkfish with blackened carrots are "two great tastes that don't taste great together," while a "jumble" of pear, blue cheese, hazelnuts and fennel is "far too sweet to keep company" with the savory selections.
Several other dishes "would work remarkably well were it not for executional errors" such as a "tough" tete de cochon and an overcooked whole Cornish hen. Dessert fares better, with the "most successful" item on the menu being a "strong-flavored, appealingly complex" piece of fennel cake topped with olive-oil ice cream. Sula believes there's a "lot that's compelling" on the menu and hopes it'll "give way to something a little more organic and soulful." [Reader]
Mike Sheerin's new eatery Packed is delivering "stellar" and "thoughtful" flavor combinations but there are some "seasoning, cooking and general execution issues evident," writes Michael Nagrant. Mac ‘n' cheese—smothered in a "creamy, heartwarming mix" of Hook's cheddar and grass-fed cream cheese—is marred by "grainy" sauce and "overdressed" with thick jalapeno rounds. Likewise, butternut squash dumplings are painted with a balsamic caramel "so silky [Nagrant wishes] Garrett Popcorn would drizzle it over a new Italian-Chicago mix" but plated on pureed squash that looks like a "Gerber baby food giveaway."
Even worse, a third of the dumplings are "raw at the seams." It's not all bad news though as pastrami dumplings "burst" with peppery spice and capture the "essence of a good deli sandwich." In the end, Nagrant feels that if the staff can fix the kinks, Packed "might turn out to be the most innovative and excellent dumpling house in the city. [RedEye]
Benjamin Schiller is delivering some "truly tasty cocktails" at The Sixth. The new Lincoln Square bar appeals to both locals grabbing a post-work drink and those looking for a "well-crafted drink that balances whimsy with familiarity." Elizabeth Atkinson recommends choices like the Doris—a floral concoction with a flower suspended in ice—and the Spaceman Spiff, a mezcal-based drink with grilled pineapple and hazelnut. As for the atmosphere, she calls it a place where you can "cozy up to your neighbor and spark a conversation, making for an "experience that's worth sharing with friends and strangers alike." [TOC]