Eden shows promise but has some kinks to work out according to Phil Vettel. Umami doughnuts stuffed with sirloin “belong on every table” and a pretty plate of bone marrow and seasonal vegetables is another “strong recommendation.” Pastas include a “terrific” tajarin tossed with trumpet mushrooms as well as duck lasagna that’s a “flavorless mess.” Among entrees, meagre with sliced apples, pears, and chestnut puree “hangs together extremely well,” but Portuguese-spiced chicken could use more heat and the strip loin with greens is a “perfunctory, for-the-customer-who-demands-a-steak dish.” For dessert, the citrus crumble is a “light-on-the-tongue, citrus-forward creation” that ends things on a positive note.
WonFun is a new-school approach to Szechuan cuisine that succeeds in exciting and fiery ways. Chongqing chicken is a Western-style tower of fried chicken, each piece yielding “exceptionally juicy and tender flesh.” Other classics are “far more traditional but still beautifully balanced,” like mapo tofu and dandan mian featuring “satisfyingly chewy” housemade noodles. A few dishes that “fall short” include “bland” wonton soup and a “shockingly overpriced” sesame cabbage salad. Those mistakes aside, Louisa Chu thinks even “old-schoolers might find comfort” at WonFun. [Tribune]
The food at Ronero “has some great moments, but there are also some seasoning and execution issues that need to be addressed,” Michael Nagrant writes. The new Latin restaurant and lounge in the West Loop features exemplary dishes—char-crusted lamb chop lollipops are the “pinnacle of exquisite carnivorism”—but often stumbles as well. Ceviche is marred by “soggy” shrimp; ropa vieja is the “silkiest” Nagrant’s ever had but “yearn[s] for more salt;” and the chicken inside the empanadas is “gritty and under-salted.” The family-style whole fried red snapper disappoints, too, with “heavy and gloppy” crusting and a hefty $80 price tag. Desserts like “killer” rice pudding help salvage the experience, as does the first-rate beverage program. With a list of 25 cocktails, Ronero is a “sexy place to get your drink on.” The kitchen, though, has some catching up to do. [RedEye]
Kitsune is “top-notch Japanese with homegrown Midwestern execution,” and as usual, Iliana Regan “does not disappoint.” Elizabeth Atkinson gushes over “dishes that are so good they’re mandatory,” such as wild rice and koji porridge bread with pickles that will “remind you of just how good a baker Regan is.” A smoky and citrusy dashi with winter vegetables is equally delightful while the tonkotsu ramen is “one of the most savory” Atkinson’s tasted. Bunny’s popular whiskey-glazed doughnuts also make their return and are a fine finish to the meal. In the end, Kitsune serves up “comforting food with local flair” and the “ever-changing menu will give you an excuse to return again and again.” [Time Out]
Mike Sula discovers A Bite of Szechuan in West Rogers Park and calls it “an uncompromising expression of one of China’s great regional cuisines.” Intriguing dishes such as “gluttonous frog hot pot” and “dry pot duck head” are pleasant surprises. The latter features chewy skin, meaty tongue, brain described as a “custardy treat,” and a thick and savory sauce that “makes wrestling with the heads worth the effort.” Cumin-dusted barbecue lotus roots could “join in a fantasy lineup of movie theater snacks,” while boiled beef with tofu is “pure chile heat” and cold rabbit chunks similarly buzz with “ma la electricity.” But despite the heavy use of chiles, Sula says it’s “well balanced against other flavors.” And unlike other recent Chinese openings, he thinks A Bite of Szechuan is an authentic spot that doesn’t hold back. [Reader]