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A Critic Thinks Fulton Market’s Aba is the Hottest Restaurant of the Summer

Plus Pacific Standard Time continues to impress critics

Aba
Barry Brecheisen/Eater

Aba is a “lively homage to all flavors Middle Eastern” and worthy of the large crowds that have packed it since opening. Phil Vettel starts with raw delights, such as kanpachi and charred lamb tartare. Spreads are a “must,” especially a “particularly nice” artichoke one accompanied by puffy house bread. Grilled lamb chops are “excellent in flavor” while seafood options include a great grilled salmon with sweet peppers and zhoug. Crème brulee pie drizzled with burnt honey makes for a simple yet satisfying ending. On the beverage side, the wine list “is a treat, keeping the less-adventurous bases covered while offering a trove of bottles from Lebanon, Greece, Israel and Morocco.” [Tribune]

Nearly everything at Pacific Standard Time “just feels right” according to Jeff Ruby. The bright and airy California-inspired restaurant offers wonders like wood-fired pita topped with eggplant. The flatbread’s “puffy-crisp crust boasts telltale leopard spots as impressive as any Neapolitan pizza’s.” Delicate black cod is a “praiseworthy composition” in a fennel puree, while “impeccable” housemade pastas include rigatoni with squid, merguez, and fennel. Among the large plates, Slagel Farm rib eye is an “impressive piece of meat, charred and sliced, its fat disintegrating into the folds of mineral-tasting pink flesh.” Dessert edges PST “closer to greatness” with a “mesmerizing” creation of Harry’s Berries Strawberries, sunflower cotton cake, and spicy Chartreuse ice cream. [Chicago]

Ina Mae Tavern has “brought the essence of New Orleans to Chicago,” writes Michael Nagrant. Chef Brian Jupiter’s po’ boys — featuring a “crackling” whitebread crust — “channel the very best of Parkway, Domilise’s or Liuzza’s by the Track.” His chargrilled oysters “bubble with butter and cheese and a haunting richness,” and his gumbo roux is “earthy and stuffed with what feels like ten pounds of chicken and silky sausage per square inch.” Fried crawfish “slay” and would help Popeyes “put KFC out of business if they switched from popcorn shrimp” while “golden and cloud-light” beignets “adorned with a Scarface-sized mountain of Bolivian marching powder-like sugar” are the “very best beignets [Nagrant’s] ever had.” [Michael Nagrant]

Passerotto “blends ambrosial Korean flavors and hints of Italian influence” to create “unique and wholly delicious” compositions. Maggie Hennessy is charmed by “diminutive” Andersonville eatery, which feels like a “stylish friend’s lived-in apartment.” Delicate bay scallops “elegantly walk the line between sweet and savory” with the addition of chive blossoms, XO sauce, and soy onion puree while “special” housemade cavatelli bathes in nori butter alongside beans, fried sweet potato, and pickled shallots. “Succulent” kalbi short ribs are the can’t-miss large plate, presented atop the bone like “corporeal artwork” and served with an array of seasonal banchan. To finish, cantuccini dipped in Italian raisin wine provides a “harmonious last bite.” [Time Out]

The Lunchroom, located inside Space 519, delivers a “noteworthy” midday meal. Joanne Trestrail calls the asparagus soup “lovely” and praises the salads for being “thoughtfully composed, mixing flavors and textures in a way we wish more places would emulate.” The Bangkok Bowl is a “substantial and boldly spicy mélange of chicken, fried shallots, soft-boiled egg and peanuts over jasmine rice” and among sandwiches, a mayo-less tuna melt “keep[s] things interesting” with Kalamata tapenade, dill, and havarti cheese. [Crain’s]

Passerotto

5420 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (708) 607-2102 Visit Website

Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods

1415 North Wood Street, , IL 60622 (773) 360-8320 Visit Website

Pacific Standard Time

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

Aba

302 North Green Street, , IL 60607 (773) 645-1400 Visit Website

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