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Vettel Thinks Alinea is Still a Masterpiece; Nagrant Calls Honey's One of 2016's Best; More

Plus glowing reviews of Roister, Beacon Tavern and Ocean Cut

One of Alinea’s dining areas is modern with light off-whites and a central statue.
Alinea
Matthew Gilson

Alinea 2.0 is a four-star theatrical experience that doesn't disappoint. Phil Vettel enjoys a meal in the Gallery Room and is blown away by course after course and culinary sleight-of-hands. There's a veggie nori roll of feta, fennel, lemon and yogurt followed by a bowl of dehydrated scallop doused in broth that's "like eating scallop pasta coddled in corn and butter." The show continues with the "smoke" course—a dazzling "virtual Mexican fiesta" involving burning palo santo sticks, chicken thigh, chicken-liver mousse and a cube of charred pineapple skewered with a skull pin. For dessert, Grant Achatz "lets his inner child out to play" with edible helium-filled balloons, and a composition of chocolate, cherry, liquid-nitrogen meringue and thick marshmallow sauce that "looks as if someone turned a pack of 5-year-olds loose in an ice-cream store." [Tribune]

Michael Nagrant calls Honey's "one of the better new restaurants to open in Chicago this year." The stylish West Loop spot offers sublime dishes like Hamachi that bursts with "clean sea-kissed flavor," while oysters kissed with mango vinegar, macadamia, cucumber and mint are a "crisp combination." Buckwheat pasta with thyme butter, bread crumbs, pecorino and morel mushrooms stirs Nagrant's soul, and "beautiful and tasty" desserts include a chocolate tahini bar with buttermilk ice cream. Overall, the "food quality is so high that it feels like an a la carte version of a prix fixe dining temple." [RedEye]

Critics continue to show a lot of love for Roister. This time Elizabeth Atkinson calls the restaurant a "great way to try out dishes on par with a three-star Michelin experience without breaking the bank." The beef broth is a must-try, an "umami bomb" of beef cheek and tongue and soft egg in bucatini noodles. Likewise, the much-talked-about whole chicken is "well worth the hype" and features "perfectly braised and juicy" breasts. Cocktails are "fun and light" and service is "spot-on—friendly and informative." And despite the atmosphere, you're still getting "high-quality offerings that are remarkably delicious, beautifully plated and thoughtful takes on dishes you wouldn't expect." [TOC]

Beacon Tavern is an intoxicating seafood restaurant full of splendid plates, writes Aimee Levitt. Billy Lawless' new spot delights with a "magical" dish of bucatini with Maine lobster and floral curry butter sauce that still "taste[s] like the ocean." Snapper crudo is "almost too exquisite to eat" while shrimp toast goes all out, arriving in a "glorious pool of butter." Even non-aquatic options like the "perfect hot-weather" white gazpacho are well-executed, and dessert features a chocolate banoffee pie studded with almonds, chocolate curls and "very addictive" chocolate brittle. [Reader]

Vettel also reviews Ocean Cut and says the "sticker shock has been muted considerably." The restaurant's Elevation prix-fixe menu is "one of the best deals in the city," offering three courses, a chef-selected dessert and wine pairings for $80. Pork belly and snails is an "intriguing surf-and-turf" combination while a "beautiful" plate of squid ink tagliolini is paired with octopus, basil and fried garlic in a tomato sauce. Crab knuckles in Korean spices are "very meaty" and a "very good dish," and the dover sole is a "delicious" indulgence. Ambitious sweets to finish off the meal include a "very pretty" creation of lemon-yuzu curd, strawberry-rhubarb sorbet, tea-poached rhubarb, compressed strawberry and sugar-crystallized basil. [Tribune]

Alinea

1723 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 Visit Website

Roister

951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

Ocean Cut

20 West Kinsey, Chicago, IL 60654

Beacon Tavern

405 North Wabash Avenue, , IL 60611 (312) 955-4226 Visit Website

Honey's

1100 West Lake, Chicago, IL

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