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Matthias Merges/Graham Elliot’s West Loop Spot Reminds Sula of Yusho

Plus, Bellemore racks up three stars from the Tribune and more reviews

Gideon Sweet
Matthias Merges

Gideon Sweet has “enough duds to indicate it hasn’t hit its stride,” but Mike Sula thinks there’s potential in the kitchen. The new restaurant from Matthias Merges and Graham Elliot “seems in some ways a rebirth of Merges’s Yusho … featuring just more than a dozen small plates with a very slight Asian bias.” An “oceanic surge” arrives in the form of sweet king crab leg with salty trout roe and uni butter, while a sweet potato stack “incites repeated plunges into its seemingly endless depths.” French onion soup is “gratifyingly murky, with deep onion flavor,” but red meat dishes are less than impressive. They include pigtail agnolotti that are a “bummer, well on the raw side of the al dente barrier, with grainy pork crumbles for filling,” as well as venison tenderloin that’s “mercilessly overcooked.” One of the “greatest strengths,” though, is dessert. Pastry chef Mari Katsumura sends guests home happy with an “astonishing take on Filipino halo halo.” [Reader]

Jimmy Papadopoulos is doing his best work yet at Bellemore. The food echoes the restaurant’s “theme of restored elegance,” starting with the famous oyster pie, which Phil Vettel says is “destined to become the dish of 2018 in Chicago.” The Hawaiian rolls are a more approachable “knockout,” elevated with an accompanying butter that’s been infused with country ham, while “extraordinarily complex dishes” include a venison tartare. Crisp-skinned black bass with mussels, uni, and a foamed lobster sauce is “one of the best dishes on the menu,” but the “superstar” entree is a three-week, dry-aged duck trio that packs “rich flavor.” Dessert offers a chocolate pudding – hidden beneath layers of banana mousse, chocolate curls, malt tuile, and banana crisps – that “takes a while to get the full effect, but it’s worth the wait.” [Tribune]

Stock & Ledger is a Loop lunch spot with “enough to interest the food lover and perhaps disappoint the traditionalist,” writes Graham Meyer. Beet salad is an upgrade from the ordinary thanks to crunchy pepita granola and cumin vinaigrette, while “bagel chips” turn out to be one huge chip atop a “large, very trouty, salad-like haystack.” On the grilled sirlon coca, the “tang of the pink beef punch[es] up the already-sharp-tasting pimiento cheese and giardiniera.” It’s served alongside spicy fried potatoes – served with cilantro, garlic, lemon, and chili paste – that sport a “penetrating crunch.” [Crain’s]

Gideon Sweet

841 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 888-2258 Visit Website

Alla Vita

564 West Randolph Street, , IL 60661 (312) 667-0104 Visit Website