When in Rome, eat as the Romans do. Phil Vettel does so on his latest outing at Next, which he writes is the “most fascinating menu in several years.” Working off a collection of recipes from Ancient Rome, Grant Achatz and executive chef Jenner Tomaska turn the clock back with “unbridled, joyful execution.” It starts with a “strong statement of an opener”—a cocktail of honey, mead, Armagnac, and cabbage before progressing onto food. Highlights include a cabbage, leak, and squash creation that “may change the way you feel about those polarizing flavors,” as well as a “can’t-miss dish” of roasted quail, stuffed with liver and heart forcemeat, and finished with mustard-honey sauce. A composition of oxtail and preserved veggies, baked in salt, “speaks to Roman methods of preservation,” while dessert stars goat cheese ice cream with honey custard, fennel pate de fruit, and pistachios. Overall, it’s another four-star meal. [Tribune]
Temporis is a “surprising and intriguing” new fine dining option that’s “perfect for a fancy and fascinating night out,” writes Elizabeth Atkinson. Standouts include a “startling bite” of king crab with briny trout roe, and dill pollen, and a wild mushroom consommé that serves up an “umami blast.” The signature rabbit done three ways course is served in a small cast iron skillet and features “meaty hunks” of loin, a “tender” leg, and a “flavorful” little rack of ribs surrounded by tandoori spice, carrots, greens, and beans. Dessert stumbles a bit, though, as two scoops of foie gras ice cream are “savory and thick and hard on the stomach.” Dish sizes are also “inconsistent from plate to plate,” but once the kinks are ironed out Atkinson thinks Temporis will really shine in West Town.
The Native is a laid back bar that Atkinson says could “soon be Logan Square’s new favorite neighborhood spot.” There’s free popcorn and $10 frozen pizzas, making it an “ideal place to meet up with friends for beer instead of fancy bites and cocktails.” The space is outfitted with ‘70s décor along with a “solid” craft beer list and “budget-friendly” domestics. On the cocktails side, guests will find twists like a Negroni made with Malort and drink called the Woods—a “muddled mix of Yellow Chartreuse, Vida Mezcal, Martin Miller’s Gin and Ancho Reyes that lacks a defined taste.” If you’re looking for the “perfect post-work wind down,” look no further. [TOC]
GT Prime “shake[s] up the traditional steakhouse model.” Instead of large steaks, chef Giuseppe Tentori offers guests smaller portions of both classic and exotic meats, such as bison tenderloin, venison, and lamb loin in River North. Although the “butter-knife tender” cuts are exceptional, Lisa Shames advises saving room for other dishes. “Balance shines through” on seared foie gras served on a thick slice of housemade brioche with candied hazelnuts, sherry vinegar gastrique, and wild blueberries. Pastas are equally “terrific”—bolognese sauce features beef, pork, and veal heart while tortellini includes tender short rib, edamame, and tripe. And to finish, a brownie with hazelnut gelato dessert is worth loosening your belt for. [CS]