Ahhh! The Tribune voters, bless their suburban asses, have voted for Forest Park as the best dining neighborhood in Chicagoland, over Lincoln and Logan Squares. There were nearly 10,000 votes (no one’s saying there were 10,000 voters, mind you), of which 55% went to the western suburb. Lincoln Square got 35%, while Logan only picked up 8% of the vote. Oh man, ‘cause Hillary got just about 35% of the vote in Illinois, too! No connection, just wanted to point it out.
The neighborhood voting result is patently absurd. We’re not saying the food in Forest Park isn’t good or bad, but it’s based on the fact that there are “30 or so restaurants and bars in less than one mile.” We are supposed to be impressed by this density? Fie upon that! It seems like the main attraction to these restaurants is that they’re approachable and unpretentious, which ranks near the bottom for us in importance when it comes to the quality of a neighborhood’s dining options. Of course, we all must come to terms with the fact that other voters, often a majority of them, hold completely different values than we do. One of the great terrors of democracy! Another is its tendency to be used as a chimera to disguise corruption and autocratism, which seemed to be the case in this contest as well (“perhaps there was a smidge of ballot-stuffing.”) Nevertheless, CONGRATULATIONS FOREST PARK ON YOUR BIG WIN!
On an entirely different matter, Phil Vettel leads the Tribune’s At Play section with a trio of article on fish and chips. In the first, he introduces the dish and provides a news peg (Lent) as well as a video of some of his favorites fish and chip vendors. They include pubs like Elephant & Castle and The Gage, and why not, Keefer’s. He concludes the series by breaking down the components of the dish, explaining why the smart set use Icelandic cod (it’s greener) and why the smarter set use halibut (it’s better and more expensive).
Our favorite piece in this week’s TOC has to be the Three-way on potatoes. Tracy Evans found three brilliant permutations of the tuber at Sweets & Savories, Moto and Powerhouse , with each dish more fabulous than the last. Let’s see, do we want twice-baked, duck fat-fried potato with lobster claw meat from S&S;, the mind-blowing “M.C. Escher Ball in a Box” (you must click and look at this Moto photo), or Powerhouse’s ever-famous sweet potato beignets? Yes, and in that order please. Love it! Also note that David Tamarkin’s article on Valentine’s Day itineraries is the best V-Day piece we’ve seen so far this cycle.
You know, we got so excited by voting that we almost forgot about the reviews! Quel horreur. So here they are:
• David Tamarkin is impressed by the warmth and effort of the family that runs La Cocina de Frida, and while some of the dishes are uneven, he looks forward to their pending expanded menu (the moles are good right now, fortunately) [TOC]
• Joe Gray visits CJ’s Eatery in Humboldt Park, which serves Southern and Southwestern-influenced diner food cheaply and competently. Gray uses “15 two-tops” to describe the restaurant’s seating arrangement, a phrase which only recently entered into common knowledge with the advent of myriad restaurant-oriented reality television programs. So we can all say two-tops and four-tops and be understood by the public now, okay? [Tribune]
Finally, a strange piece in the Tribune on how to entertain out-of-town foodies; and TOC advises we buy a jar of carica, a fruit that “has the aroma of a pineapple, the color of a mango and the flavor of a particularly tropical peach.” Whoa.
[Photo: carica, which is basically a type of papaya. Or simply is another word for papaya; we’re not quite sure (Daniel*1977/flickr)]