The Reader claims it’s reviewing these three restaurants because they’re all new, but we know the real thread is that they all have much longer names than we were able to enumerate in the title of this post. It’s actually Mexx Kitchen At The Whiskey Bar, Bluebird Bistro & Wine Bar, and CJ’s Eatery. (Yes, we see there’s no link for Bluebird. Soon, though, surely!) Anyway, it’s complete semiotic overload - like the restaurants were too skittish to just have a proper name, and needed to add a bunch of descriptors to hide behind. Or maybe they’re just trying to be informative, but as always, we prefer the more tortured explanation.
Mexx Kitchen gets the thumbs sideways from Anne Spiselman - the restaurant, tucked behind the Whiskey Bar, doesn’t know if it’s a drinks place, a snack place, or a fine dining place, and suffers from the indecision (this reminds us of Mike Nagrant’s review of The Gage that we looked at the other day). The fancier stuff is good, but the whole out-of-whack experience can be unsettling.
Bluebird Bistro may be picking up the Wicker Park pork torch from shuttering-tomorrow Baccala; Martha Bayne reports that almost every menu item has some kind of pig product involved. Which, of course, is not a bad thing. Also, the place is low-key, and both the wine and beer offerings are decent. Actually, Bayne calls attention to the fact that the wine list is organized by climate, about which she writes, “IMHO a fairly useless conceit.” That it may be, but look how IMHO has wormed its way into paper journalism! Rock on, mutable English language.
CJ’s Eatery is the new Grand Ave Wishbone (that location closed, actually), according to Mike Sula, by which he means, it’s a cornerstone of gentrification for its neighborhood. CJ’s is bringing bright and tasty Southern cafe-style food and good coffee to its neck of Humboldt Park, much to the great pleasure of neighbors. Now, not only is it possible to sit in a restaurant (previously unavailable for a several block radius), shrimp and grits can acquired, and during brunch, no less! Ah, may the tentacles of good food smoosh their way into every nook and cranny of Chicago. Wait, do tentacles smoosh? Only when something goes terribly awry with your octopus ceviche.