Wow-wee! Now that the Tribune At Play staff is back up to full strength with addition of Chris Borrelli, they’ve pushed out a whopper of an issue. Half of the day is devoted to that Best Neighborhood Dining award idea they’ve been plugging for a few weeks, and the other half is Super Bowl-type stuff. Let us discuss in that order.
Now we understand how and why the BND awards were timed to land today and next week’s edition: the competition has been rebranded “Decision 2008,” what with Super-Duper-Calafrajalisticexpialadocious Tuesday landing smack in the middle. After a nasty and exhausting early primary season, all but three neighborhoods have dropped out of the race - Lincoln Square, Logan Square, and downtown Forest Park. (An aside - not that politically diverse! We wonder how the political affiliations of neighborhoods map onto their respective dining scenes…actually, we have an idea, but we’re not telling!)
The opening article introduces the “candidates,” which are lightly anthropomorphized by the series’ writers, Monica Eng, Trine Tsouderos, and Chris Borelli. Basically, Logan Square is hip and diverse, Forest Park is dependable and friendly, and Lincoln Square is high quality and stately.
After this introduction, each writer painstakingly explains why his or her neighborhood is best for dining using the tortured media of campaign speeches and platforms. Combined with the Tribune’s notoriously poor website layout, it’s very hard for the reader to follow what’s going on. Not that this isn’t a worthy exercise! Just an odd one. But okay. Forest Park: overview | restaurant listings. Lincoln Square: overview | restaurant listings. Logan Square: overview | restaurant listings. Finally, some voting instructions.
As for reviews, Phil Vettel completes the pentagram of reviews for Powerhouse, finding himself unexpectedly impressed by the food and atmosphere. If you’re keeping score, Phil is in the pro-sweet-potato-doughnut camp. On Tablehopping, Chris Borelli likes the Korean fried chicken at Crisp (if not much else), while Glenn Jeffers enjoys the prosecco at Prosecco, a River North wine bar (note that both of these reviews were on the Stew in the past week; this is just their in-print dumping ground, not that we blame them one bit).
The only actually helpful new articles this week are about the Super Bowl. Chris Borelli theorizes that ordering pizza on Sunday is a losing proposition, so he investigates frozen options, especially ones of local extraction. Meanwhile, Karen Budell rounds up bar options for the big game. Or you could just eat sushi and watch opera DVDs, whatever.