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Critic Dubs Bar Biscay the ‘Basque Bar of the Future’

Plus a critic thinks S.K.Y. is the kind of restaurant Chicago needs

Bar Biscay
Barry Brecheisen

Bar Biscay defies all of Mike Sula’s expectations. The Spanish- and French-inspired restaurant “attempts to replicate a chic San Sebastian bar” with funky neon lighting, interesting libations, and “in-your-face flavors.” It starts with “hot and fluffy” fried manchego gougeres before moving onto larger plates, such as steak frites smothered in sauce gribiche, “that go off script, but not without good results.” Other “extraordinarily hearty and heavily sauced dishes” include “gloriously fatty and cartilaginous” oxtail meat and a pot of braised boar shoulder that “will have you bench-pressing your date.” In some sense, “it’s almost more of an American menu than a European one.” Beverage-wise, the “herbal and nuanced” Wrath of Kalimotxo is a “complex concoction” featuring amari, Atxa vermouth, and Angostura bitters while an Ameztoi Rubentis rosé txakolina is “as fresh and nostril tickling as any sparkler.” Overall, Bar Biscay is a “fun riff on a magical part of the world, but it wasn’t what [Sula] was expecting in a lot of ways.” [Reader]

Despite some controversy early on, Michael Nagrant thinks the sky is the limit for Stephen Gillanders. The city “needs restaurants like S.K.Y.,” which “provides jobs to the community, tax dollars to provide that supportive and inclusive infrastructure, and is a focal point for hope and progress.” The menu offers rich indulgences but “at prices which remind [Nagrant] of the 1990s than 2018.” Black truffle croquettes are “basically fried savory donuts bursting with truffle funk,” while “silky” lobster dumplings in jade butter is a classic Asian dish transformed “with luxury.” Bibimbop gets upgraded with foie gras and a crispy bottom layer thanks to the searing hot pot, and duck confit has “textbook mahogany cracklin’ skin, luscious interior meat.” Desserts get the same attention to detail and are highlighted by a cheesecake featuring a bruleed sugar coating, blueberry compote, and citrus sorbet. [Michael Nagrant]

S.K.Y.

1239 West 18th Street, , IL 60608 (312) 846-1077 Visit Website

Bar Biscay

1450 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60642 (312) 455-8900 Visit Website

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