Tribune & TOC: Being Their Very Best

We have a love/hate relationship with Thursdays, when the meaty, restaurant-oriented food sections come out. Let’s start with the reviews:

• Phil Vettel visits Crofton on Wells in River North around its 10th anniversary, and is happy to see that it’s stuck to its promise of sophisticated but homey New American cuisine. He calls it “suitable for any special occasion, without involving the monetary investment required for an Alinea or Everest.” [Tribune]

• Trine Tsouderos heads to the Skrine Chops in Forest Park, an economical place to get your steak on. And yes, it’s a branch of the Skrine Chops just south of the Loop. [Tribune]

• TT also checked out Spertus Cafe, the Wolfgang Puck-operated Kosher lunch spot in the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. The food is tasty enough (not an easy task, with all the rules), but the peaceful space is the bigger draw (if you’re not Kosher). [Tribune]

• Trine must have been having quite a week, because she also went to The Painted Lady Organic Eatery, which is owned by the Bleeding Heart Bakery and serves vegan friendly cafe fare. [Tribune]

• Meanwhile, David Tamarkin files a Jewy double feature, reviewing both the aforementioned Spertus Cafe, and the new branch of Eppy’s Deli in the Loop. Unlike Tsouderos, Tamarkin thinks the food at Spertus is pretty underwhelming - who can get excited about a sandwich in a plastic bag, anyway? And the location does not leave enough of an impression on him to mention it. He also hates on Puck a little bit, not that we’ve ever heard anyone say anything positive on the subject. Tamarkin fared a little better at the new Eppy’s, which has some forgettable hot entrees in addition to its standard deli spread. The pastrami was *okay*, but the deli didn’t seem to have the authenticity or spark that he was looking for. Maybe Skokie? [TOC]

Wow, that was a lot of reviews! But that’s not all, oh no. There are five more items of note:

1) Monica Eng’s feature on where personal trainers eat. It’s basically where you eat, but with more protein and fewer carbs. [Tribune]

2) David Hammonds’ guide to eating your way through the western suburbs of Elmwood Park and River Grove. Trust him! [TOC]

3) Janet Franz has some dining trend predictions for 2008. Artisanal salts, grass-fed beef and empanadas are so last year or before, but restaurants with retail components where you can buy their prepared food or place settings to take home has a “now” ring to it. [Tribune]

4) David Tamarkin has a roundup of where to find veal cheek around town. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! “Baby” and “cheek” are both always delicious, and combining them is ethereal. DO IT! [TOC]

5) At Play wants to know what you think is the best dining neighborhood in Chicago. This is a discussion that can never be resolved, so we don’t like it. Top 10 might be okay, though probably not very illuminating. [Tribune]

Finally, the Tribune posted a bunch of its best food porn from over the years. It’s a pretty good slideshow.

[Photo: a sample photo from the set]


Tribune & TOC: Being Their Very Best