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A Critic Finds ‘Assertive Flavors’ at Globe-Trotting River North Spot

Plus St. Clair Supper Club is a fresh take on an old school experience

Flora Fauna’s dining room is lit by natural lighting. The tropical-themed space is heavy on green and blue tones and is decorated with hanging lights, plants, and wicker chairs.
Flora Fauna
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Flora Fauna offers “geographically fluid dishes” and “fans of assertive flavors are likely to enjoy themselves immensely.” Phil Vettel reviews the “label-defying” River North Restaurant and can’t quite get a grasp on what it is, but knows “it’ll never be boring.” Chef Jonathan Meyer’s menu offers “stone bowls,” which are filled with nopales, braised greens, panela cheese, and meat, seafood, or veggies in an Asian-inflected broth. Among the small plates, the seared octopus is a “star,” served over guajillo-pepper sauce, avocado puree, gooseberries, tomatoes, and plantain shoestring fries. Lamb tartare is “also worthy,” while a seafood “daiquiri” of fish bathing in cucumber aguachile, lime granita, and finger chiles is another “good option.”

Moving onto the large-format choices, pork shank fried rice “captures the attention of neighboring tables” with a huge shank over rice, egg yolk, plantains, radish, and more. And the equally “eye-catching” giant banana split sundae is a “fruit-factory explosion of bruleed banana slices, marinated berries, angostura-soaked peanuts, horchata ice cream, dulce de leche and shaved chocolate.” On the beverage side, Liz Pearce’s cocktails “have a beachy feel,” such as the “Basic Beach” — “essentially a Miami Vice made with mezcal instead of rum.” [Tribune]

St. Clair Supper Club is a “charming and enticingly casual” take on the classic Midwestern experience, according to Maggie Hennessy. The new Alinea Group restaurant, located under Roister, hits all the right notes on its short-but-sweet menu. The Caesar salad is “quintessentially zingy” while “exceptional” shrimp cocktail are “scented with lemon and woodsy bay.” The star of the show is the prime rib, which is “outstanding—seasoned clean through and tender from salt curing and a slow, low roast.” It’s accompanied by sides like “silky” creamed spinach and a “crispy, butter-slicked” Yorkshire pudding balloon. For dessert, a “monstrous, trembling” wedge of grasshopper pie transports Hennessy to “skinned-knee summer days.” [Time Out]

DJ Khaled’s soul food restaurant the Licking has “hit-or-miss execution” but is still a welcome draw on the West Side, writes Mike Sula. The signature deep-fried lobster is thankfully not overcooked, “though the fryer erases any recognizable lobsterlike characteristics the creature might have had.” An “alluring” fried chicken combo pairs “crunchy, juicy” wings with powdered sugar-dusted red velvet waffles and makes for a “nice photo.” Grilled shrimp are “decently snappy if outsized by their $15.99 price tag,” but slices of steak and onions across “gummy, saucy linguine alfredo [are] gnarly and tough beyond edibility.” However, “nothing stands out more” than the “Famous Mystery Drink,” a “virgin fruit juice and lemonade cocktail that tastes like a swallow of assorted Jolly Ranchers.” [Reader]

Café Cancale is a French seafood spot from One Off Hospitality that’s all about “savoring the moment.” The evolving menu includes dishes like lobster dressed with “silky, salty” aerated butter pudding, and corn ravioli that yields “sweet richness gleaned from black truffle and pecorino,” writes Ariel Cheung. Trout almondine is also “so good” and arrives “steaming hot and perfectly pink, with sprigs of dill adding levity to the brown-butter vinaigrette and salty, rich fish.” Capping it all off is a “perfectly simple” strawberry sundae. “It’s delicious; it’s unpretentious; and it’s utterly worth savoring.” [Modern Luxury]

Fulton Galley is a new food hall that showcases chefs who are looking to get their concepts off the ground. As a result, Joanne Trestrail says the dishes are “closer to home cooking than they are to fast food, both in quality and in quickness.” Highlights include “terrific” roasted fennel pork shoulder with mole poblano at Fairview, and “generously filled” roasted chicken thigh and green chorizo tacos at Taco Mucho. North Side deli Steingold’s also makes an appearance and its Grandma Rachel sandwich is “just as impressive here,” featuring turkey pastrami, havarti cheese, spicy pickled slaw and Russian dressing on challah bread. [Crain’s]

Roister

951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

Cafe Cancale

1576 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 Visit Website

Fulton Galley

1115 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 210-0920 Visit Website

The Licking

5045 W. Madison Street, Chicago, IL Visit Website

Flora Fauna

11 West Illinois Street, , IL 60654 (312) 624-9276 Visit Website

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