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A Critic Deems a Wrigleyville Restaurant Michelin-Star Worthy

Plus Portage Park’s new Jewish-Italian deli dazzles

Barry Brecheisen

Mordecai is a “complete package” that should earn Michelin-star consideration in Wrigleyville, according to Phil Vettel. Vettel has always been enamored with former Longman & Eagle chef Jared Wentworth who was last seen in Fulton Market at the since-shuttered Regards to Edith. At Mordecai, he produces “approachable-sounding dishes that wow you with sophistication.” There’s a “gorgeous” asparagus salad — with frisee, rhubarb, maltaise vinaigrette, and sous vide egg — alongside options to please Cubs fans, such as an “excellent” double-patty burger and “first-rate” fish and chips. Entrees “take Mordecai’s game to another level” and include “beautiful-quality” halibut with shrimp agnolotti and spring veggies; and English-pea risotto topped with “delicious” porchetta. For dessert, the chocolate fernet sundae is a “glorious” ensemble of ice cream, fernet-laced brownie, and mint oil. [Tribune]

Mike Sula thinks Frunchroom is a quaint Jewish-Italian deli that “make[s] you realize how lucky we still are to live in Chicago.” The 27-seat Portage Park café offers a “surprisingly deep menu” of meats and sandwiches. During breakfast hours, cured fish ooze with salmon oil and are “just salty enough to be like cured sashimi” while smoked salmon is prepared pastrami style with a crust of pepper and herbs. Lunch yields chicken liver mousse that’s rich, the “liver bass note harmonizing beautifully with fat and acid and flakes of Maldon salt,” and “spicy and funky” Andalusian chorizo.

Seasonal dishes include charred asparagus with strawberries and blue cheese in a balsamic reduction, which Sula calls “a riot of flavors, gorgeously balanced.” Sandwiches are full of “extraordinary takes on familiar standards,” such as a grilled cheese that leaves slicks of butter, raclette, and caramelized onions “trailing down the chin” and a BLT “simultaneously airy on brioche and saturated with butter, bacon fat, and basil aioli.” And for the sweet tooth, there’s a selection of rococo doughnuts, pastries, and shakes that “emerge from the kitchen impossibly thickened.” Frunchroom is still flying under the radar but Sula predicts “long lines in its future as word gets out about [chef Matt] Saccaro’s original, idiosyncratic vision for a neighborhood deli.” [Reader]

Marchesa’s elegant River North dining room and upscale European plates “wouldn’t have been out of place on the Normandie,” writes Joanne Trestrail. Diners would “have trouble finding a more refined setting” for lunch and the menu features dishes like a “substantial” lobster salad and “beautifully textured” risotto that’s “alive with subtle flavor.” Those who want something less posh can opt for a half-pound burger topped with cheese and ham, “plenty decadent in its own right.” Execution errors include an appetizer of ratatouille byaldi that’s “spoiled by an obliterating blanket of harsh-tasting smoky piperade,” as well as “tough and dry” chicken. [Crain’s]


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