Surely you didn’t think that the three little reviews from today’s Tribune and Time Out would comprise the entirety of our coverage of this week’s food sections from those publications. We enjoyed ranking the features of yesterday’s Sun-Times so much that we’re going to do it again today, but this time, only the top five, and the two sections will compete against each other for the honor of placement in the post. Ready? We shall count down to number one:
5) Chain Reaction, Tribune: This is the weekly feature where an unlikely Trib reporter braves the horror of fast food dining to discover and evaluate the newest creations that places like BK, Sbux, and Pizza Hut have unleashed on humanity. This week, the Southwest Salad at McD gets high marks for use of decent ingredients, while the 7-layer Crunch Wrap at Taco Bell is dismissed as being adequate but exactly the same as every other item on their menu. We think this column is useful to both people who actually eat fast food (and there are many), and people who are too elitist to eat fast food but want to experience it vicariously (yours truly). It is a good lagging indicator of American taste.
4) Outside Job, TOC: This article is a list of the TOC staff’s favorite outdoor dining spots. Dining al fresco is lovely when it’s not a sidewalk cafe (too much exposure to cars and passers-by). Fortunately, Chicago is full of backyards, waterfronts, and other exotic forms of rooflessness. This list is good, especially because it contains photos of some of the outdoor dining spots, but also note that you can filter restaurant search results on MenuPages by feature, including outdoor dining.
3) Devil may care, TOC: This interview with renowned chef and cad-about-town Marco Pierre White, who is the youngest chef to win three Michelin stars, and the only one ever to give them back when he left the restaurant in question (talk about quitting while you’re ahead!) We like this interview because it’s unusual to see badmouthing of the Chicago dining scene in the press (click through to see who’s food was described as “dreadful,” and which man is “so rude”), although we didn’t have the attention span to follow it the whole way through. Note that MPW will be presiding over a three-course luncheon ($65) at Seasons tomorrow, and it’s not sold out yet! Get on that, if you can.
2) What’s cooking in underground dining, Tribune: A nice primer on non-restaurant dining in Chicago, ranging from Ghetto Gourmet-style get togethers to special meals put on by speciality food stores. Food tastes better when the masses don’t get to eat it. We don’t like the lack of menus associated with this activity.
1) The overlooked, misunderstood, extraordinary RIB TIP, Tribune: Congratulations, Kevin Pang - you are our winner today. A focused and thorough piece on an important, delicious, overlooked food is always appreciated, and is possibly the most likely article of the lot to improve the lives of its readers. Kudos.