The Other Critics

P. Vettel Loves P. Virant; Time Out Loves Brunch at 25 Degrees, But Nowhere Else

Perennial Virant.
Perennial Virant.

Starting off with an amusing story of a job applicant who applied to Paul Virant but somehow addressed his letter “Dear Phil Vettel,” Phil Vettel is pretty much left in a sunny mood by everything at Perennial Virant, which he says is decorated in Vie’s image: “The menu is very Vie-like as well, reflecting Virant’s farm-to-table, everything-made-in-house ethic, and his fondness for combining deeply satisfying, hearty flavors with bursts of bright acidity… There are gems throughout, naturally, but I’ve yet to find a large plate that didn’t wow me.” “You can’t go wrong,” “love,” “sensational,” “astonishingly well,” “beautiful”… this could hardly be a more genuinely affectionate review. So why is it only three stars, in the end? Are more artistic plating or white tablecloths or nosebleed prices required to achieve the highest level, even when the food earns such praise? [Tribune]

Perennial Virant.

It continues to be brunch month at Time Out Chicago, with a trio of reviewers trying three newish brunch menus downtown. Elate rehabbed its brunch menu, but the result seems to be dishes that are overelaborate and underthought-through: “At brunch, the coffee was the best part. There was an awkward tower of pulled pork and crunchy tortilla chips; entirely too large hunks of pork belly incorporated into a Benedict; and a stack of pancakes topped with a thin layer of brûleéd custard, an interesting idea that might have taken off if the pancakes had been less dense.”

Worse yet seems to be Quay, where pancakes are a “lifeless stack,” chicken hash earns the appetizing description “rubbery bits of ‘crispy chicken’ stuffed inside a squishy papa rellena with a side of eggs,” and a basket of dinner rolls at breakfast is “confounding.” The winner, surprisingly, is a burger joint— 25 Degrees, whose breakfast sandwich wins for being just like a burger minus the burger, but “we’re also kind of obsessed with the ‘soft scrambles,’ specifically Soft Scramble Number Three, which combines tender scrambled eggs with green chili sauce for a take on chilaquiles.” By the time we get to bottomless Bloody Marys, Time Out is in love. [TOC]

P. Vettel Loves P. Virant; Time Out Loves Brunch at 25 Degrees, But Nowhere Else