Mike Sula embarks on a Turkish cuisine crawl and samples five new spots. At Turkish Kitchen (565 W. Diversey), there’s an assortment of “fairly uncommon” dishes like menemen — a saucy tomato, pepper, and egg scramble — and soujouk omelet, a layer of over easy eggs surrounded by beef sausage. Ali Baba Doner (545 W. Diversey) focuses on chicken kebab, which is best enjoyed in “well-balanced” sandwich form, “the cool crunchy salad in harmony with the juicy, caramelized poultry and its soft, warm pita Snuggie.”
In contrast, Istanbul Grill's (3037 N. Clark) doner is “dry and tough and a chore to get through,” but the lahmacun is a delight. It features a “thin and lovely oblong of blistered and charred dough,” topped with tomatoey beef mince, and “inspires you to forget your manners and devour it with abandon.” Over in Wicker Park, Café Istanbul (2014 W. Division) is a more formal experience that serves a “magnificent and dramatic” kebab called Cağ kebabı. This Erzurum Province specialty stars a stack of “juicy” all-lamb shoulder and saddle impaled on a horizontal spit that helps give it a “superlative char.” Finally, Sula finishes his tour with a Turkish-style coffee at Four Letter Word (3022 W. Diversey), where it’s brewed with “outstanding” single-origin Brazilian beans. [Reader]
Part of the Tribune’s month-long exploration of Chicago’s French food, Phil Vettel reviews one of his old favorites. Vettel gushes about the Les Nomades’s luxury in awarding it four stars. He writes the chef Roland Liccioni has discovered new spices with a “a touch of Sriracha in his aptly named caviar surprise.” The classic continue to shine “zucchini stuffed with lobster mousse and surrounded by rich, bisque-worthy sauce (with a small claw as a bonus) is a special to look for.” The desserts still stand out “majestically tall and cloudlike in texture, the Grand Marnier version I had here was the finest souffle I’ve had.” Les Nomades stands the test of time over three decades and excels for customers who desires a quiet fine dining experience. [Tribune]
JoJo’s MIlk Bar is a “place for indulging children, inner or otherwise,” writes Graham Meyer. The new River North restaurant is made for Instagram, showcasing shakes that “bulge with precariously implanted add-ons as voluminous as the shake itself.” The favorite of the bunch is the Rocky IV — decked out with Reese’s Pieces, a chocolate- and peanut-coated marshmallow, peanut butter fudge, and a chocolate chip cookie. On the savory side, there’s a “capable” fried chicken sandwich with a sweet-and-sour sauce alongside a “rich Reuben relative,” called the New Yorker, that subs in coleslaw and challah for sauerkraut and rye.
Joanne Trestrail hunts for downtown lunch options and finds several that are Bien Me Sabe has opened a second location the Loop, a follow-up to ownership’s Lakeview restaurant that’s popular among Latino members of the Chicago White Sox. It’s a Venezuelan spot and the “After Party” arepa — filled with roasted pork, gouda, and guasacaca — is a “triumph.” The veggie bowl is also a “monster of delight,” packed with rice, marinated tofu, black beans, fried plantains, and guasacaca.
Two new Chicago’s French Market vendors shine as well in the West Loop. Ethiopian standout Demera (a spinoff of the Uptown stalwart) makes an appearance at the food hall and serves injera wraps, stuffed with meats and veggies, that are “vividly flavorful and very filling.” And at Jian, giant Chinese pancakes envelop sweet sauce, green onions, vegetables, and pulled pork for a “messy but fun” meal. [Crain’s]