Michael Nagrant calls Cabra the “Machu Picchu for Millennials, cougars, and horticultural enthusiasts.” Stephanie Izard’s Peruvian-inspired restaurant is Chicago’s hottest “scene” at the moment, playing host to both the “well-worn” and the “dewy-eyed Instagramming elites.” Those familiar with Izard’s “friendly culinary colonization” will likely love the food. The ceviche and tiraditos are “chill beach-body friendly acid-smacked beauties,” while the crab causa is akin to a crab salad dropped on top of a potato salad, “old reliable tropes reunited and rejiggered into something delightfully jarring like a Tarantino flick.”
The “stoner-surprise” salchipapas – frites dripping with chorizo and mayo – are a pleasing “South American clap back at Canadian poutine,” but diners “may have to be super high to truly enjoy the chicharron del puerco.” It’s a “Flinstonian-hunk of bone-in fatty pork shank” served with a host of accompaniments. While the crispy skin is “magnificent,” the insides are “mostly $30 of gelatinous goo that reminds [Nagrant] of the leftovers of carcasses of people infected by the mind flayer in Stranger Things.” To finish, the sweet potato donuts with dulce de leche are worth paying double for. Overall, Cabra doesn’t compel Nagrant to become a “repeat visitor” and feels more like a “sold base hit” than the home runs that Boka Group usually produces. [Michael Nagrant]
Jeong “deftly reimagines” Korean cuisine and delivers “eye-opening results” according to Maggie Hennessy. Owners Dave Park and Jennifer Tran have helped turn West Town into “one of the city’s finest dining neighborhoods” with their lauded restaurant. Buttery mackerel sashimi, dusted with genmaicha tea, is imbued with “beguiling, dried-grass earthiness” while “visually striking” tteokbokki features toasted, chewy rice cakes slicked in gochujang sauce over a pool of more chili sauce.
“Vintage Americana assumes equally whimsical form in Park’s duck confit,” which presents rich meat resting on sweet squash purée “that looks and tastes like a velvet sunshine.” Salmon tartare, a tasting menu dish that can also be ordered a la carte, is a “beautiful, pearlescent” disk topped with crème fraîche and toasted rice spheres. And for dessert, tapioca pudding carries “the warming spices and resiny nuttiness of pine nut sponge candy like a comforting memory [Hennessy] hasn’t yet formed.”
Bad Hunter hasn’t missed a beat after a seven-month hiatus. Morgan Olsen checks in on the veggie-forward oasis and finds that executive chef Dan Snowden has “turned the volume all the way up on the creative possibilities.” Burrata is accompanied by potato, strawberry, chili crisps, garlic, and dill to create a “flavor combination so insanely confounding that it works.” Just as pleasurable is the English pea tart, which is hidden beneath lettuce, mint, pecorino, and shelled peas and tastes “like a mouthful of garden in the height of summertime.”
“More divine still” are the spring mushrooms complemented with blueberries, smoky almonds, and French cow’s milk. They yield some bites that emulate “fresh-off-the-skill blueberry pancakes” and others that are “deeply savory and earthy.” The “addictive” butter dumplings also make a return, now filled with charred corn and sitting in a sweet corn cream “so delicious” that Olsen and her companion “wipe the bowl clean.” Dessert features a “perfectly fine albeit a bit boring” crème fraîche flan tart adorned with macerated strawberries, while the beverage program offers “one of the best drinks” Olsen’s had this year. Dubbed “Re:Birth,” it’s a “delightfully delicate and complex” blend of sake, pear brandy, singani, and blackberry-sage tea. [Time Out]
Subo Filipino Kitchen is helping to raise the profile of Pinoy cuisine, writes Mike Sula. Located just off the Kimball CTA station, the mom-and-pop restaurant is luring folks in with intriguing dishes like “chocolate meat,” a traditional blood stew consisting of offal-y parts. Options that are “not as dramatic but no less gutsy” include peanutty beef-and-tripe kare-kare and pork liver and tomato stew igado. There are also staples, such as “scarfable” lumpia and pork adobo, as well as tinola, “restorative” chicken soup made with “collagen-rich” bones. Desserts star a “towering Insta-ready” halo-halo filled with shaved ice and an assortment of toppings. [Reader]
Graham Meyer says City Tap isn’t bad, but “it just doesn’t have the shoulders to stand out.” The burger has a “stout, beefy, accurately medium-rare patty, although no other ingredients bore notice.” Also good is the Abe Froman pizza, which has a “crunchy” crust and really does “taste like an Italian sausage sandwich in pizza form.” Misses include the “Jacques” mussels that are “too mustardy and $17.” On the whole, though, CIty Tap “probably isn’t even the fifth-best restaurant on Fulton Market between Halsted and Peoria streets.” [Crain’s]