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Chicago’s First Cider Taproom’s Space and Drinks Impress a Critic

Plus Vettel spotlights The Blanchard

Nick Fochtman

Eris is a cidery and brewpub with intriguing drinks and “magnificent” environs but the food “isn’t quite their equal in either ambition or scale” according to Mike Sula. The space itself is “consummate for Olympian-style feasting: a cavernous brick-and-steel gilded chamber with tall windows.” Ciders are “all varied and interesting enough to warrant keeping an eye on the place,” such as a “effervescent dry cider positioned as a crowd-pleaser” and a dark-cherry fruit bomb called Blush. On the beer side, nearly two dozen options means “there’s enough variety to keep even the most obsessive zymurgy nerds absorbed.”

The complementary food menu offers the usual bites alongside a “smattering of global nods.” There’s posole rojo, “bright and deeply meaty, loaded with chewy hominy, crunchy cabbage and radishes, and a mound of the cider-braised pork.” That pork is “less agreeable on the banh mi,” but a “standout” burger blanketed in cheddar and bacon jam is “simple and substantial.” Other dishes include cassoulet, roasted half chicken with cauliflower puree, and a “dense” peanut butter pie with caramel sauce.” In the end, Sula thinks it’s fine fare, “probably just as good as it needs to be to feed a crowd more interested in the drink than in what it goes down with.” [Reader]

The Blanchard is excellent, unstuffy French dining that deserves more love, writes Phil Vettel. Chef Ryan Burns serves “playful” delights like foie gras fluffer-nutter, which features a thick slab of pate, marshmallow cream, and maple syrup between slices of brioche. Griddled octopus is tossed in a pureed-mussels vinaigrette and seafood also “provides most of the main-course highlights,” such as “pristine” roe-topped salmon. For meat eaters, mushroom-crusted lamb loin with roasted carrots is “dark and intense” while dessert stars “interesting pairings” like chocolate mousse cake with shards of beet meringue. [Tribune]

Graham Meyer compares the burgers from Maillard Tavern and Small Cheval. While both “serve capital-G Great burgers,” Mallaird pulls ahead thanks to its selection of fries, shakes, and “comfortable ambiance.” The headlining Mallaird burger “ranks as one of the best in Chicago,” stacking two “densely flavored” beef patties on a potato bun with cheddar, pickles, Dijon mayonnaise, crispy onions, and bacon-onion jam. The fries are tossed in sea salt and duck fat and “approach the burgers in excellence,” as do the milkshakes made with crème anglaise. [Crain’s]

Maillard Tavern

494 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60654 (312) 766-2727 Visit Website

The Blanchard

1935 North Lincoln Park West, , IL 60614 (872) 829-3971 Visit Website

Eris Brewery & Cider House

4240 West Irving Park Road, , IL 60641 (773) 943-6200 Visit Website