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Nagrant Says Elske is an 'Inspired' Knockout; Bad Hunter Delivers Uncharted Flavors; More

Plus reviews of the Cajun-creole at Fifolet and warm vibes at Estereo

Elske
Marc Much

Michael Nagrant thinks Elske was one of 2016’s best new restaurants. From the outdoor fireplace to the cozy candle-lit dining room, David and Anna Posey make guests feel right at home. The "smart, clean dishes [are] grounded in natural techniques and earthy ingredients," such as a mesmerizing composition of roast maitake mushrooms and shaved chestnuts in a pear cream sauce that’s like "some kind of pheromonic bat signal." A bowl of celeriac "risotto" is "more toothsome and satisfying than the most al dente rice, while a "graceful" and "delightful" bed of scrambled eggs swaddles chicken confit and smoky carrots. Anna’s "daring and thoughtful" desserts round out the meal and include rye bread pudding served with stellar quince sorbet and crispy puffed amaranth, sorghum and rice that are "as addictive as popcorn." Overall, the couple is living up to the hype by delivering "inspired, natural and beautiful food." [RedEye]

Chicago’s culinary scene provides an endless amount of options but no restaurant comes close to "celebrating the delicious possibilities the vegetable kingdom offers as Bad Hunter." Lisa Shames praises chef Dan Snowden for creating "vegetable-focused dishes like you’ve never had before." Tempura-fried lemons and delicate squash is a "weird dish that works wonderfully" while Romanesco broccoli benefits from the deep fryer and two Spanish-style sauces. Pasta dishes are equally "terrific"—saffron farfalle topped with hearty root vegetable Bolognese is "as comforting as any traditional meat sauce." Even desserts trend toward botanic life; a "beautiful and delicious" red curry squash tart is an "intriguing" finish. [CS]

The city deserves better Cajun-creole cooking than what’s coming out of the kitchen at Fifolet. Mike Sula calls the chicken jambalaya "forgettable," as is fried Cornish hen served with dirty rice. Other misfires include "bland, soggy" crawfish-tail fritters and "dull, stomach-busting" gnocchi with "underseasoned" brussels sprouts and baby corn that are a "sorry offering for the vegetarians in your company." But it’s not all bad news. The gumbo is "so spot-on," imparting the right bitter-coffee notes. Similarly, corn bread casserole "pairs nicely" with candied collard greens, and fried green tomatoes are a nice "surprise." Dessert is also an up-and-down affair, offering beignets and a "disastrous" bananas Foster that "crumbles at the slightest touch." While the effort is appreciated, Sula thinks the restaurant leaves a lot to be desired. [Reader]

Estereo is the all-day bar that Chicago needs, writes Elizabeth Atkinson. The Wes Anderson-ish style and "leave your worries at the door" vibe make it the perfect place to spend a few hours. Drinks change regularly but the house specialty Breezy is an "easy sipper year-round—light with just enough body to pull us through the cold winter." Bright South American tunes and warm yellow lighting help provide a "welcome respite from the winter gloom," which every Chicagoan could use right about now. [TOC]

Elske

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

Estereo

2450 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 360-8363 Visit Website

Bad Hunter

802 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1745 Visit Website

Fifolet

1942 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 384-6886 Visit Website

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