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Sula Thinks Il Porcellino Plays It Safe; RedEye Praises 'Simplistic' Moneygun; More

Plus, critics think Imperial Lamian has poor execution and Mezcaleria Las Flores flourishes

Il Porcellino
Il Porcellino
Marc Much

Mike Sula finds Il Porcellino to be a mostly fine, inoffensive restaurant where diners "can all find solace in a meal." Tourists and locals alike who stop into Lettuce Entertain You's newest spot will enjoy a Sicilian seafood salad that's a mound of "fresh, snappy"  squid, shrimp, octopus and nutty chickpeas, as well as a "pretty, texturally intriguing plate" of tuna carpaccio garnished with green olives and pistachios. Pastas are "less consistent." Gnocchi is "fluffy" and sauced with a "bright, meaty" prime-rib Bolognese but spaghetti is covered in a "wan, watery sauce containing meatballs so overextended with bread crumbs only a pigeon could be happy with them."

The signature roasted pork belly is "significantly fattier, larger and more enjoyably decadent than most versions" but a porchetta special is "dry, overly herbed pork." Desserts are "unsurprising" while cocktails include three versions of the negroni and a mascarpone-washed gin drink that "tastes like diluted pineapple juice." [Reader]

Moneygun, the "antithesis of highbrow," is a "delightfully simplistic contribution to a neighborhood of world-class dining." Heather Schroering finds a lot to like on the cocktail menu, which lacks descriptions and "encourages guests to interact with the servers." The evening starts with the "freshest Pimm's Cup [she's] ever sipped" before moving onto the Cuba Libre, a rum and Coke-like concoction made with housemade cola that's "one of the tastiest" on the menu. To complement the drinks, dishes like Kentucky fried quail served with mac ‘n' cheese, braised greens and buttermilk biscuits is an example of "quality dining colliding with greasy bar food." On the whole, Schroering praises Moneygun for "focusing on the fundamentals--good service, good drinks and a good time." [RedEye]

Inconsistencies turn Imperial Lamian into a hit-or-miss experience, according to Louisa Chu. The signature xiaolongbao are "desirably thin," but "about a third [are] already broken when served" and some fillings are "bland" or "oversalted." Lamian is "consistent and a good value" though, with the "thick and good" wok-fried noodles featuring "fat" crustaceans and a "judicious amount" of soy sauce. Other dishes are not so successful, such as golden mapo tofu that's "greasy, dry and lacking any flavor or point," siew mai dumplings served "half raw" and "dry" roasted duck marred by "poor technique." Dim sum sweets for dessert are "fine but uninspired," while the Amaro Mule cocktail also fails to deliver as it's "over-iced, weak and frustratingly flavorless." Chu thinks there are "hints of a very good restaurant," but the execution must be improved before that can be achieved. [Tribune]

Mezcaleria Las Flores is a "fun spot with interesting cocktails without all the pretense," writes Elizabeth Atkinson. The new mescal-focused bar offers "quality" drinks and for $10 a piece, they're "worth the price." The "easy to sip" Shook Ones Pt. 1--€”made with Del Maguey Vida mescal, Kailani coconut, lemon, St. George absinthe, cacao and sesame--€”blows Atkinson away and is one that you "couldn't pry out of [her] hands." There's also the "most refreshing" Magnetic Pole Reversal and the sweet Falconry Demonstration, which is described as a "crowd-pleasing cocktail with a smooth egg white." Food comes by the way of Johnny's Grill next door and recommendations include the housemade Pop Tarts or the burger. [TOC]


660 W Lake, Chicago, IL (312) 600-0600 Visit Website

Il Porcellino

59 West Hubbard Street, , IL 60654 (312) 595-0800 Visit Website

Mezcaleria Las Flores

3149 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL (773) 278-2215

Imperial Lamian

6 West Hubbard Street, , IL 60654 (312) 595-9440 Visit Website