Honey's awes in presentation but Mike Sula takes issue with "bumbled executions of fussily plated dishes." Over-brining results in "Acme Meat texture" and "ham versions" of pork chops and rotisserie chicken while lamb tartare is "devoid of any lamb fat or funk that might make it interesting." Pastas are the "most promising offerings," though, and include "perfectly spooled" buckwheat chitarra with morels and a "tasty bowl" of squid ink orecchiette tossed with calamari, shrimp and octopus. Among entrees, swordfish marinated in Middle Eastern chermoula and served with veggies is "one of the most vibrant-tasting dishes on the menu." To finish, desserts are "a bit more memorable than the savory side," highlighted by a baked Alaska with raspberry puree. [Reader]
Mahalo is a major disappointment and fails to impress Morgan Olson. Although the décor feels "cliché," the airy space is cozy and has a certain charm to it. But cocktails "ultimately fall flat" and include the "sticky, sugar-induced headache" Hula Kula, as well as a Passionate Margarita that tastes "like a salt lick." The food also misses the mark with options such as cold macaroni salad, which serves "only to soak up booze," and Huli Huli chicken marred by a "candy-like sweet potato puree and coconut jus [that] make[s] the whole dish feel unsophisticated." If you must, Olson suggests grabbing at the bar and sticking to "wine, beer and appetizers—if only for the Instagram."
Michael Nagrant visits Chiya Chai Cafe and discovers some "revolutionary chai" along with "fantastic" Nepalese fare. His drink is "thick, wafts floral notes and finishes with a kick of heat from the ginger," while a York Peppermint Pattie blend is "warming and soulful like a good cup of hot cocoa and aromatic like a garden breeze." As for the food, chicken masala is "light, tangy and lip-smackingly fresh with curry heat;" momo dumplings are filled with "juicy" pork finished with chili heat and notes of Champagne grapes; and chili potatoes with "addictive flavor" are glazed with honey and spiked vinegar. Nagrant calls it a "pretty good introduction" to Nepalese cuisine and gives the restaurant a wholehearted recommendation. [RedEye]
Smack Shack is a solid lunch option for those in the West Loop, writes Joanne Trestrail. Spicy andouille sausage "shines in a hefty po'boy" and lobster guacamole is another good choice. Salad lovers will enjoy the lobster Cobb that's "crunchy, fresh and generous with toppings" while "you can't go wrong with the lobster rolls." The cold one "does everything right, with cucumbers and tarragon keeping things interesting," and come with "excellent" chips. In addition, chef's-choice $1 oysters "feel like a luxury, not a bargain." [Crain's]