In contrast to Boka, Lee Wolen is cooking “in interesting and more approachable ways” at Somerset. Dishes are “equally tasty and arguably more craveable,” combining “down-to-earth presentations with dazzling flavors and techniques.” Beet tartare is a “vegetarian masterpiece” of smoked beets mixed with beet puree and olive oil, and topped with sunflower seeds and goat Gouda. Spanish octopus with grilled cucumber on sesame yogurt delivers “smoky, charred and sweet flavors” that Phil Vettel would eat every day, while outstanding tagliolini arrives in an “uncommonly rich” mixed-mushroom Bolognese-style sauce. Meg Galus’s “predictably spectacular” desserts include a pumpkin mousse that’s a “sugar bomb, but a wonderful one.” Overall, Somerset is “easy to love” and a three-star experience for Vettel. [Tribune]
The Reader also makes a visit. The setting is different but Somerset’s “flavors on the plate manifest themselves with the same engaging and intuitive grace as they do at Boka.” Mike Sula digs into an “unforgettable” smoked-beet tartare and corn-and-salt-cod fritters that are the “bar snack of the year.” Tagliolini raveled in an “umamic” mushroom bolognese is a “one-plate mental support system,” while Lee Wolen’s whole roasted bird — with “crispy” skin and “tender, juicy” meat — “returns the chef to the ranks of the best chicken slingers in town.” For dessert, a deconstructed candy bar is comprised of brownie bites, ropes of nutty caramel, and milk chocolate-chai ice cream.
Steingold’s “isn’t your zayde’s deli,” writes Sula. The smoky Wagyu pastrami is an “unstable but lusciously fatty hash” that’s available in several offerings while Grandma Rachel is a turkey sandwich that happily surprises. The favorite, though, is the Steingold’s Classic — bagels and lox “close enough to God that He might spare humanity just long enough to eat it.” And among the other Jewish-American staples, the “fatty, herbaceous, full-bodied” chicken noodle soup is also a standout. Viewed as a traditional deli, Steingold’s might disappoint but Sula thinks it’s a “sandwich shop with enormous potential.” [Reader]
Michael Nagrant says The Delta’s tamales will “change your life.” These “ethereal” bundles of joy are airy and filled with seasoned corn meal. On the Jim Shoe, they’re “overflowing with silky lamb and beef, topped nacho style with spicy giardiniera and drizzled with D.A.F. sauce.” Elsewhere on the menu, the “rich and funky” burger is “one of Chicago’s best and “tastes like someone stuffed a whole lobe of seared foie gras in the middle.” Similarly, fried chicken is “super juicy, fried to a mahogany brown” while “cloud-light” catfish is “bursting with coriander.” And even if “you’re not really hungry, the front bar is probably one of Chicago’s chillest hangs right now.” [RedEye]
Heritage is bringing “caviar back to its proletariat roots” and “has the potential to become a real neighborhood staple.” While caviar starts for as little as $10 per serving, Maggie Hennessy suggests going for the grand platter, which includes a 12-gram mound, plus Michigan whitefish roe and tobiko and accoutrements. German imperial caviar features “mild creaminess giving way to a nutty aftertaste,” while other dishes like “tender” seared scallops and “greasy, deeply smoky” goulash help render Hennessy “almost comatose.” To drink, the “Best F%@&ing Fall Gimlet” is a “quenching, Chinese five spice-imbued version of the limey gin summer throwback.” [Time Out]