Virtue “oozes both Southern charm and urban sophistication,” writes Phil Vettel. The new Hyde Park restaurant from chef Erick Williams is a “winning combination of technique, nostalgia and personality.” Chicken gizzards “arrive wonderfully tender inside a cornmeal crust,” while biscuits and cornbread are similarly “irresistible.” Roasted broccoli, served with bell peppers, cheddar, and candied pecans, is a “triumph of assertive flavors and textural range” that shouldn’t be missed, and a meaty pork chop is the star entree. For dessert, banana pudding features “whimsy and nostalgia” in the form of Nilla wafers and housemade Cool Whip.
Avec is 15 years old and still delivering great food. Vettel dines at the Mediterranean stalwart and thinks that while longtime favorites, like chorizo-stuffed medjool dates, haven’t skipped a beat, new dishes are also delicious. Vegetables are “treated like royalty here, particularly the charred carrots” with black-garlic harissa, whipped feta, Turkish urfa chilies, and dukkah-spiced crispy rice. A “puffy, blistered-heel” roasted artichoke and smoked tomato pizza is “very good,” and seared sturgeon with roasted-onion yogurt, kohlrabi, and grapefruit are “bold flavors that shouldn’t work but do.” The pork shoulder is the menu’s standout, a “rich and nurturing” pot of pork, clams, braised collard greens, morcilla sausage, and piri-piri chiles. Desserts include gelato and sorbet, but Vettel recommends mixing and matching between the French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and domestic cheeses instead. [Tribune]
New executive chef Mark Mendez is making City Winery an attractive lunch spot according to Joanne Trestrail. “Uplifting spins on soups, salads, large and small plates, and flatbreads that make your lunch interesting” should be expected. They include an “excellently flavorful” pan-roasted chicken with roasted carrots, parsnips, and fingerling potatoes — a “homey meal on a cold day.” Pulled lamb on pita with spiced yogurt sauce is “gyro-like but without the usual heaviness” and comes with “superb” herbed fries. And braised duck tacos are a DIY option offering shredded meat, warm tortillas, avocado-tomatillo salsa, and cabbage slaw. To drink, “you can’t go wrong with one of the six on-tap wines made on the premises.” [Crain’s]