The first review of Rick Bayless' West Loop spot Leña Brava is in, and RedEye critic Michael Nagrant has fallen hard, writing "the flames and sparkling embers I witnessed while dining were sexy and primal." Nagrant awarded Leña Brava a glorious 4 stars.
The critic says the flaky blackened cod al pastor is "the best fish taco in Chicago." Part of it is due to the house-griddled tortillas. Items from the cold section impressed Nagrant, as he recommends the opah laminado which comes "briny and topped with addictive spicy pork cracklins and grassy pea shoots."
Nagrant doesn't dive heavy into Bayless' beer, which is brewed on site at next-door Cruz Blanca. But he does mention trendy mezcal, which is prominently displayed and comes with hefty price tags: "a quick round of mental math made me realize I was sitting about 10 feet away from a year's worth of rent in liquid form."
The sweets also are also pricey, but Nagrant liked the apple tart: "a rough-hewn, flaky, free-form pastry stuffed with caramelized apples that burst with ginger and black pepper spice."
Bayless keeps on demonstrating to Nagrant that he can accomplish almost anything, and with Leña Brava, he's "created another unique masterpiece."