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Marisol, the MCA’s New Restaurant, Wows a Pair of Critics

Plus, Giant’s sequel, City Mouse, channels the original’s magic

A large white dining room with black furnishings
Marisol
Kendall McCaugherty/MCA

Even though it’s a museum restaurant, Mike Sula thinks Jason Hammel and the Marisol team are “challenging themselves, like artists are known to do.” The “riveting” menu starts with pleasures like sunflower hummus with flaxseed crackers that “should be sold by the bag in the gift shop.” Burrata, an overplayed dish, is “one of the period’s most original” thanks to candied squash, semi-dried persimmons, and charred ginger. Among entrees, barely-cooked shrimp kissed with lardo and drizzled with brown butter and walnut-apple saba “seems to channel a weirdly-compelling union between sea life and apple pie,” while pastas, such as bucatini with clams and pancetta, are a “forceful presence on the tight menu.” Dessert “ends things nicely” with a deconstructed trés leches cake and coconut sorbet. Like an ongoing performance, Sula says “this is only the beginning of Marisol’s already promising run.” [Reader]

Jeff Ruby is enamored with Marisol as well. He’s impressed that the “chameloeonic menu, like Lula’s, takes chances.” Kohlrabi layered with pear slices, endive, white sesame seeds, and grated chestnut builds “the kind of gorgeous vegetable-forward tableau that [the team] mastered at Lula.” There’s also a “tremendous” dry-aged rib steak, “so tender and flavorful it almost feels perverse to dip it into the accompanying creamy bone marrow soubise.” While the constantly-changing menu features some “familiar Continental offerings,” the “delightful surprises” are enough to keep diners coming back for something new and exciting every time.

City Mouse inside the Ace Hotel has “captured the same elusive magic that makes Giant irresistible, but for a completely different audience,” writes Ruby. There are “goofy, brilliant inventions,” like fried cheddar balls topped with caramel and caviar, as well as “flavors that pop in unexpected ways” in a Gas Station Sandwich with hash browns, egg, cheese, sausage, and grape jelly. Even in a “potentially gimmicky” dish of wild striped bass topped with bacon, sour cream, and scallions, “familiar flavors unspool in exciting new ways.” And the Roti Mopho, with sides of roasted sesame eggplant, fresh dates, feta, and chili sauce, “pulls transcontinental culinary references into one cohesive, playful whole as satisfying and creative as anything at Giant.” [Chicago]

City Mouse Chicago

311 North Morgan Street, , IL 60607 (312) 764-1908 Visit Website

Marisol

205 East Pearson Street, , IL 60611 (312) 799-3599 Visit Website

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