Phil Vettel has a largely positive review of OTOM, Moto’s casual-comfort-food-with-a-twist brother restaurant next door. This stands in marked contrast to the early reviews the restaurant got back in mid-August, when TOC, the Reader, and yes, even the Tribune, thought the food was rather boring. Guess chef Daryl Nash heard the criticism and spiced things up a bit! Meanwhile, at the end of the review, Vettel writes, “Otom isn’t going to crash the cover of Food & Wine, but if there’s any justice in the world, it’s going to be a hit.” Well, if you’re forced to invoke the “justice of the world” to hope something happens, you (and it) are in trouble.
Picking up on the theme, Trine Tsouderos has a piece on the haute comfort trend that’s currently massaging Chicago’s big shoulders. The article never really resolved on a thesis, but basically, everyone likes home cooking, and they like it even more if it’s done by a skilled professional with high-end ingredients. If your mom’s not around (or if she doesn’t cook New American), TT recommends that you try Chalkboard, OTOM, TABLE fifty-two or Tavern at the Park.
Phil Vettel’s Halloween-themed article on “scary” stories from chefs is even more of a stretch than yesterday’s Sun-Times article on haunted restaurants, but we liked it better anyway. The subtitle of the article, “(Crawfish) + (falafel) = yuck!,” refers to a dish that Jimmy Bannos of Heaven on Seven once tried (and failed), placing the seafood-spiked balls in a po’boy with tahini. Well, that sounds pretty fine to us, but maybe on a pita instead? There’s nothing you can’t encrust with falafel though. We once has this hot, steamy dream about a falafel-encrusted hamburger. Word.
Finally, reports of KPang’s demise were at least partially exaggerated. This week, he’s all about skin - chicken, salmon, duck, pork, WHO CARES, just as long as it’s either crispy (firm but easily broken or crumbled) or crunchy (making a crunching or cracking sound, as when chewed). What is crispy but not crunchy? Apples. What is crunchy but not crispy? Granola. But when you combine the two, OMG yes.
[Photo: salmon skin, Skinny Epicurean/flickr]