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Vettel Thinks El Che Bar is Blazing Hot; Alinea 2.0 Awes Ruby; More

Plus lunch at Ocean Cut goes swimmingly

El Che Bar
El Che Bar
Marc Much

El Che Bar is heating up the West Loop, writes Phil Vettel. The new South American restaurant from John Manion focuses on open flame cooking that turns out to be "remarkably precise." Grilled short ribs have a "rewarding flavor" and "work well" with an acidic chimichurri sauce and charred onions, and sweetbreads offer "deep, funky flavors nicely balanced by pickled vegetables and smooth cauliflower puree." Likewise, swordfish "emerges perfectly moist" while "it's hard to argue with" a "luscious" boneless rib-eye topped with bone-marrow butter. Desserts include pleasing horchata ice cream with cognac-soaked cherries and the strong beverage program crafts a mezcal negroni that "works exceedingly well." [Tribune]

The reinvention of Alinea has resulted in an even better experience that continues to push the envelope. Jeff Ruby takes on the 18-course meal in the Gallery and discovers the new kitchen to be an "exhilarating workspace filled with noise, action, and animated human beings." Over the span of three and a half hours, he enjoys courses ranging from a gazpacho of freeze-dried watermelon juice served in a globe-shaped tumbler to a dish of roasted pork belly cubes in a "vigorous" curry. Other delights like flash-fried morels in a foie gras cream sauce and a helium-filled balloon of strawberry taffy are also works of art while a spectacle at the end of the meal has the staff letting loose to create dessert. In the end, Ruby thinks Grant Achatz and his team have another masterpiece on their hands. [Chicago]

Ocean Cut has rebounded nicely and lunch-goers will find "impressively wrought food," according to Joanne Trestrail. A tuna tartare with charred melon starter is a "real treat" while a Mediterranean salad full of calamari, shrimp, octopus and olives works as a very "satisfying" entrée. Among entrees, Lake Superior whitefish is "spot-on" and roasted Amish chicken is "crisp-skinned" and "nicely moist." Dessert excites with a "pleasingly tart" Key lime tart and overall, Trestrail calls the three-course prix fixe lunch menu an "excellent" deal. [Crain's]

C Chicago

20 W Kinzie, Chicago, IL

Alinea

1723 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 Visit Website

El Che Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website

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