Galit is a “Middle Eastern masterpiece” from James Beard Award winner Zach Engel. His Lincoln Park restaurant continues to garner high praise from critics and this time it’s Phil Vettel’s turn. The salatim, Israeli salads served with “heavenly” pita, are “not optional” and include labneh with hyssop and sumac, and ezme with toasted walnuts. “Don’t miss” the crunchy falafel accompanied by pickled turnips and “funky mango” labneh, or the crispy chicken thigh with whipped feta, harissa, and peas. The foie gras torchon is also a “star” that arrives with toasted challah and sour-cherry jam. And for dessert, there’s a sweet version of khachapuri filled with hazelnut pastry cream and poached apricots and topped with tarragon ice cream.
Entente has moved to River North but the food from Brian Fisher is as impressive as ever, writes Vettel. The new interior is “beautiful, and exceedingly comfortable,” while other new additions include a $140 tasting menu. Among the a la carte options, agnolotti with morels and asparagus and ice crab, and lamb loin with favas, pecorino cheese, and a “fruit roll-up” are “don’t-miss treats.” A whole dry-aged duck features “delicious” pieces of breast meat alongside spring rolls, a bowl of lettuce, duck skin, and dipping sauces. The “excellent” breads are still here, as is the “beautifully composed” wedge salad, and desserts like fig tart with goat cheese ice cream are “offbeat, artistic and oddly satisfying.” On the beverage side, there’s a “nicely chosen” wine list and cocktails are “creative and very nicely balanced.” [Tribune]
Mike Sula samples two new hot chicken contenders. Big Boss Spicy Fried Chicken takes influences from Belizean fried chicken and Nashville hot chicken for its recipe. Owner Jassy Lee marinates the meat in a blend of ghost, habanero, serrano, and four other chiles before frying and applying a final layer of heat and sweetness. The result is a “shatteringly crispy crust” that should be eaten immediately. The chicken sandwich is also an “Instagram celebrity: an enormous boneless, brick-red fried thigh that dwarfs the bun it comes on, the cooling coleslaw crown and raw jalapeño effectively canceling each other out over the fury of the chicken.”
At Chicken Pollo Shack, David Rodriguez’s bird is “explosively juicy beneath a craggy crust.” He pairs them with housemade sauces, such as a “West Side Fire” sauce that’s made with honey and orange juice. The sleeper item on the menu, though, is the grilled chicken. It undergoes a two-part brine-marinade process, takes on a “delectable char,” and is finished with a “simple modified chimichurri” that “puts this bird into a category by itself.” Quite simply, it’s the “best chicken [Sula’s] eaten all year.” [Reader]
Cira is a cushy spot to hang out for a few hours during the day while enjoying Chris Pandel’s creative dishes. Joanne Trestrail calls Pandel a “mix master” for his menu that blends flavors from the Mediterranean, France, Italy, Spain, and more. Lamb shwarma is “straightforward, juicy and on the money” and salmon a la plancha pairs “delicate, perfectly cooked” fish with slivers of fennel, cherry tomatoes, and gazpacho. There are a few clunkers: There’s “not enough going on” with the Rinforzo salad, a “wan little dish of carrots and cauliflower pieces in vinegar,” and the cacio e pepe is a “surprisingly small portion of too-sturdy noodles, a minute or two short of al dente.” [Crain’s]