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Critics Call Publican Anker an Impressive Evolution; Vettel Awards Elske Three Stars; More

Plus reviews of Hanbun and Baderbräu’s taproom

Publican Anker
Marc Much

Publican Anker is an evolution of the popular West Loop restaurant that is "enough of its own entity to warrant a name and identity all its own," according to Mike Sula. Beer, pork and oysters are still present, but the menu is now more focused on fish, veggies and wine. A green chile fish stew is a "showstopper" that’s full of "perfectly cooked" mussels, clams and hake chunks, while swordfish is served in an aquatic cassoulet of fresh shelled beans, grilled romaine and clams. Elsewhere, Middle Eastern ingredients show up prominently on chicken wings—showered with basil and a vaguely fishy, sweet-chile lacquer—and the grilled pork collar with Urfa biber chile pepper and dukkah spice. And while the hyped burger is "decent," Sula thinks it’s only there to "appease the gustatorily timid." Dessert offers a "magnetic interpretation" of banoffee pie, a toffee pudding drench in butterscotch and topped with banana slices and crushed pecans. [Reader]

Although there’s a sense of déjà vu for Michael Nagrant, Publican Anker "hits all the right notes" when it comes to great food. Fried eggplant with "Wisconsin halloumi" are cheese curds that "eat like fluffy savory doughnuts dripping with chili-spiked honey," while the chicken wings have a crackling crust and "sweet, spicy and funky flavors" that are "addictive." The blood sausage is a "transcendent" 50-50 blend of pork meat and blood, and the burger is an "umami bomb" worth devouring. To finish, "velvet-smooth" blood orange creamsicle ice cream is like a "more complex and satisfying version of the Good Humor popsicles." [RedEye]

The accolades continue to roll in for Elske. This time, Phil Vettel is wowed by the "highly creative, labor-intensive dishes" from David and Anna Posey. Standouts include a "silky-smooth" duck tart that’s "surreal yet familiar, exotic yet comforting;" a celeriac risotto with texture that’s "spot on;" and a "soul-satisfying" dish of maitake mushrooms with pear cream and shaved chestnuts. The "all-star dessert" is Anna’s cheesecake, while the beverage program is "unfailingly interesting, fresh and thoughtfully priced." [Tribune]

Hanbun is a bold and ambitious venture inside a Westmont food court. Jeff Ruby reviews the Korean spot from tag-team couple David Park and Jennifer Tran and finds a "refined" assortment of staples. Park’s "thoughtful, nuanced ways" come through on lunch options like bulgogi that’s grilled into "caramelized chunks" and topped with arugula, apple strips and scallions in a soy-sesame vinaigrette. His noodles go "head to head with David Chang’s legendary ramen," bathing in a chili-tinged chicken broth with marinated chicken, enoki mushrooms and a "perfect" soft-cooked egg. The dish "triggers absurd levels of happiness," but is not the only item to do so. An afterhours-only tasting menu features a "three-star" composition of "gorgeous" beef tartare surrounding an egg yolk mixed with red chili flakes, as well as pearl barley porridge that’s "as exquisite as the most refined risotto." Other tasting delights include "lovely" pork belly flanked by sunchokes prepared three ways, and misaugaru—roasted grain powder mixed with yogurt pudding, black sesame crumble and cubes of matcha-kudzu mocha. [Chicago]

Baderbräu’s new taproom is a "big and comfortable" spot to chill in the South Loop. Elizabeth Atkinson calls the space "incredible, an inviting room that you could definitely hang out for a while." Patrons will "always be able to find a seat" and can play board games while sipping on a number of brews. The flagship beers are "generally fine but lack complexity." Some of the other offerings, though, are hit or miss. The Velociradler is a "perfect summer drink, with fruity notes and a noticeable amount of carbonation," but the Lawnmower Lager "falls flat when it comes to taste, with a grassy single-hop note instead of its promised fruity complexity." [TOC]

Publican Anker

1576 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 904-1121 Visit Website

Elske

1350 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-1314 Visit Website

Baderbrau

2515 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

hanbun

665 Pasquinelli Drive, , IL 60559 (630) 948-3383 Visit Website

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