The Northman is a fine place to drink but the "food doesn’t stand up to the cider," writes Mike Sula. The beverage menu offers "so much to explore," from the "light semidry florality" of the Canadian Sea Cider Prohibition to the "murky unfiltered barnyard funk" of Michigan’s Uncle John’s Farmhouse Firkin. Unfortunately, dishes are more of a hit-or-miss affair. Fries are "on point … crisp with a cumulous interior" and the fried Icelandic cod is "one of the best versions [Sula’s] come across in some time." Likewise, hand-cut pasta tossed with pickled onions, carrots, roasted goat and crescenza cheese is "one of the most flavorful things on the menu," but things go downhill from there.
Porchetta has "no crackling, no flavor, and little character," and a Cornish pastry resembles a "reheated Greek cheese pie." Even the burger is "mystifyingly underseasoned" while confit chicken curry packs so little heat it’s like "something served to residents of the psych ward so as not to excite the choleric humors." Sula says there’s promise shown but in the meantime, skip the food and stop in for the cider. [Reader]
Ryan McCaskey’s "skill and dedication make Acadia a worthy destination." Phil Vettel writes a glowing review of the two Michelin-starred restaurant in the South Loop and says the kitchen is "absolutely killing it right now." On an opening dish, the "complexity of the unctuous [charred-onion] broth and the clean flavors of the garden vegetables make for a delightful plate." McCaskey also shows off his creative side on a playful dish resembling a bird’s nest, which is made of threads of beef brisket, fried potato strips and grated truffle surrounding a sunny-side-up egg on a potato base. Desserts match the main courses in "thoughtfulness and unexpected flavor pairings," featuring surprises like pieces of spice cake scattered about heirloom carrots, cream-cheese ice crema and seared foie gras. [Tribune]
Nando’s Peri-Peri is a welcome addition to Naperville. Thomas Witom says the South African chain provides an "engaging atmosphere for couples and families" to enjoy the signature flame-grilled chicken. Chicken legs are "moist and meaty," while the chips served with peri-peri-infused mayo give a "pleasant flavor jolt." Another "appealing option" is the lemon-and-herb marinated chicken breast wrap served with a "pleasing creamy" coleslaw. For dessert, the traditional Portuguese custard tarts are "small but memorable – and will only set you back $2.25." [Daily Herald]