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A Critic Hails Pacific Standard Time as 2018’s Best Opening

Plus Ludlow Liquors blends “Midwestern nostalgia with Filipino tradition”

A white space with tall ceilings and windows, light wood floors, and sleek monochromatic tables and chairs.
Pacific Standard Time
Barry Brecheisen

Michael Nagrant calls Pacific Standard Time the “best Chicago restaurant opening of 2018, so far.” The West-Coast-influenced hotspot from Erling Wu-Bower and One Off Hospitality doesn’t pull any punches, “serving pristine ingredients at the peak of their ripeness.” Avocado salad is a “masterful melange” of endive, avocado, cucumber, and sour cream vinaigrette while chicken wings are “so good” that Nagrant contemplates ordering another plate. Among the larger dishes, Dungeness crab chitarra is “toothsome” and black cod is “flaky and reminiscent of Hamachi collar.” Pastry chef Natalie Saben’s desserts are “art installations” and include a composition of “sharp meringue barks spiked with basil that melt on your tongue along with huckleberry-drizzled honey ice cream like tabs of magical blotter acid.” [Michael Nagrant]

Maggie Hennessy is smitten with Ludlow Liquors, the “dressed-down remake” of Orbit Room that’s “quintessentially cozy and inviting.” Cocktails — available in small pours — range from a “light, bright and nutty” whiskey martini to the Delicious #7, a “botanically inclined mescal and benedictine sipper warmed by mole bitters.” Complementing the alcohol is greasy fare that “artfully blends Midwestern nostalgia with Filipino tradition.” A “genius mashup,” dubbed crab “dragoon,” features wontons filled with everything-bagel-flavored cream cheese and sweet crabmeat while “shatteringly crisp” egg rolls pack a mix of pork, beef, fish sauce, and Spam. To finish, fresh cut spuds served with malted vanilla gelato are a throwback to Wendy’s iconic Frosty and fries pairing. [Time Out]

Tied House achieves the “perfect balance between refined elegance and Midwestern ease” according to Ariel Cheung. Chef Debbie Gold “packs complexities into her dishes,” such as a “strikingly crunchy but balanced” sweet potato accompanied with cleansing turnip and fromage blanc. Mackerel is encased in beeswax and dry-aged for a “lovely concentration of flavor” while short rib is “supremely tender and worth savoring.” The capper is a deconstructed wedding cake resting on a “lovely” smear of frosting and adorned with dried rose petals for a “fun jolt of flavor.” [Modern Luxury]

Saba won’t remind diners of their nonna’s cooking but Mike Sula is pleasantly surprised by many of the Italian dishes. Arancini Brundlefly, heavy on moist salty cod, is “delicious no matter how you view it” and “soft, springy” pork meatballs served with a duo of red sauce and salsa verde “reach peaks of umami that might make you squint.” Pastas are a “mixed bag” — tagliatelle is “oversauced” and maltagliati has the “mouthfeel reminiscent of burlap” but a “striking” bowl of gnocchi provides a “deeply smoky taste that contrasts well with glazed turnips and spring onion, mint, and parsley pesto.” Dessert stars a “devastatingly good” blondie drenched in eggy sabayon spiked with saba. [Reader]

Ludlow Liquors

2959 North California Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 754-7492 Visit Website

Pacific Standard Time

141 West Erie Street, , IL 60654 (312) 736-1778 Visit Website

Tied House

3157 North Southport Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 525-2508 Visit Website