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A Critic Feels Moody Tongue Could Become America’s Second Michelin-Starred Brewpub

Plus Lao Peng You’s dumplings display “extraordinary technique”

The dimly-lit bar space features a 22-seat Nero Marquina black marble bar.
Chicago Tribune critics rave about the Bar and the Dining Room at Moody Tongue.
Jordan Balderas

Phil Vettel thinks Moody Tongue will soon join Band of Bohemia as the only Michelin-starred brewpubs in America. Chef Jared Wentworth’s dishes are “executed with precision and uncommonly pretty presentation” and on the a la carte menu, there are options like a “magazine-cover pretty” beet tartare topped ricotta, gelled egg yolk, and mustard seed; and an “exceptional” dry-aged pork chop, the Tribune critic writes. The 12-course tasting offers bites that include chawanmushi topped with lobster and shaved truffle; seared foie gras with pain d’epices and fruit; and “very impressive” squab with “wonderful” caramelized endive and cassis sauce. Desserts feature a “rich and satisfying” dark-chocolate cremeux, and a “colorful take on ambrosia made with charred pineapple, lime sherbet, milk jam and coconut foam.”

Of course the “rich, hearty dishes transcending mere pub fare” also “pair brilliantly with beer.” Josh Noel says the brewery is “making some of the best and most consistent beer of its six-year existence.” Sour cherry Belgian ale is “lush and fruity,” and toasted rice lager is an “endlessly drinkable gem: crisp, refreshing and lightly fruity.” The fine dining experience starts with a pressed Asian pear saison, which proves to be a “faultless food beer when the first course of ‘snacks’ arrives.” Bruleed banana Dunkel Weizenbock is an “elegant melding of sweet, creamy, meaty, savory and salty” that goes well with the pork belly, while oak barrel-aged Flanders red ale — called “the burgundy of beer” — has “so many layers of flavor at work, and they tie together beautifully” with American wagyu beef. All in all “there’s remarkable synergy between the food the beer at Moody Tongue; every bite and sip speaks to collaboration and mutual understanding.” [Tribune]

Lao Peng You is making some of the best dumplings in Chicago, writes Mike Sula. The new Chinese spot in Ukrainian Village specializes in handmade jiaozi — “silky, two-pleated, half-moon purses clutching firm, often fragrant farces,” such as beef and cilantro, and pork and dill. They’re served in a broth of soy and black vinegar, which is an “ideal amniotic waiting room to stage these delicate dumplings.” Other menu items include bing, pan-fried flatbread, that sports a “thick, crackly exterior and slightly gooey doughy interior studded with cumin-y lamb bits or green onion.” That same dough also shows up in the form of wide, slippery ribbons bathing in a beef noodle soup. Overall, Sula thinks “what comes across with everything — apart from soy, chili, and vinegar — is extraordinary technique.” [Reader]

Commons Club, the restaurant located inside the Virgin Hotel, is a hit-or-miss affair. Dishes are loaded up with extra items and “sometimes the additions work and sometimes they don’t, giving the overall impression of trying too hard,” according to Graham Meyer. Gnudi in a stew-like mixture of peekytoe crab, smoked tomato, basil oil, and Parmesan is a success; the “warming, melding shadowy flavors contrast with the unexpected element of flash-fried basil leaves, providing textural punctuation. “Tender and juicy” skirt steak served atop “well-seasoned, well-textured” fries is another winner that shows “how playing safe can stumble into less-is-more.” However, on the “Lobsta Butta Club” sandwich, the claws “retract from the taste.” Cauliflower fried rice is also “mushy, seeming even mushier from the barely roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts shuffled in.” [Crain’s]

The Bar and Dining Room at Moody Tongue

2515 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616 Visit Website

Lao Peng You

2020 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (872) 206-8624 Visit Website

Moody Tongue Brewery

2136 S Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60608 (312) 600-5111 Visit Website

Commons Club

1 Music Square West, , TN 37203 (615) 808-8888 Visit Website