Tribune & Time Out Chicago: Dead Restaurants & Comfort Food

The Thursday food sections are totally classy this week. The Tribune has this beautiful photo spread and series of mash notes to Chicago’s restaurants of yesteryear. All the At Play writers participated, and depending on your age and arrival time in Chicago, the blurbs are sure to inspire at least nostalgia, and possibly wistfulness. But for what we’ve lost over the years, certainly we have gained as much or more. For our part, RIP Gladys’ Luncheonette and Cocorico.

Time Out Chicago’s headlining piece is on global comfort foods. Now, this is an interesting concept, because comfort foods usually invoke one’s own childhood and cultural heritage. But TOC’s demographic is pretty comfortable with the diversity of the world, so it does not really register as an oxymoron. Which is great! So you can enjoy your baked beans along side pierogi, or maybe pongal (Indian rice and yellow lentils) with arroz con leche for dessert. More than half of the list is European-origin dishes, but what are you gonna do?

Both sections have pieces on food and restaurant trends. In the Tribune, Janet Franz tackles people who bring their own coffee to brunch, and restaurant portion inflation size. We didn’t know the former was an issue - do people really do that? Apparently they do, and it’s totally tacky. As for the portion problem, it’s nothing you didn’t already know about the food industry enriching itself off the American consumption fetish-driven obesity epidemic.

Meanwhile, TOC’s trend pieces are pretty awesome. At mk, they use a fantastical machine to create made-to-order infused cocktail pairings for the restaurant’s dishes - on Thursday nights, anyway. And what’s not to like about Violet Hour’s fried peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich? Fried as in, covered in egg yolk and panko chips and fried. But it sounds (and is) much chicer than fried pizza or Mars bars.

Now for some reviews:

• Heather Shouse went to The Filthy Libertine (although her review refers to it simply as “The Libertine;” we called, and both are acceptable), and is worried that its quite sophisticated and well-executed food might be drowned out by the boozy patronage. Remember, “gastro” comes before “pub” [TOC]

• David Tamarkin pleas with us to revisit La Tache, a pioneering bistro in Andersonville that’s suffered some from new competition, but has a rejiggered menu worthy of your attention [TOC]

• Joe Gray was sufficiently satisfied with the “urban lodge” fare at Rustik in Logan Square, but MenuPages’ reviewers have been pretty bearish on the place… [Tribune]

• One-week-old Cafe Marbella, a tapas restaurant in northern Peterson Park, impressed Monica Eng with top-notch mussels and baked goat cheese; she calls it “easily the best new place I know for big convivial dinners on a wintry night.” Also, it’s BYO for now [Tribune]

Little bits: Chef Peter Balodimas of St Charles mole-gaseria Fahrenheit does not allow music in his kitchen, because it raises the cooking error quotient…the Soul Vegetarian East people have opened a sister restaurant, Life Vegan, in Evanston…TRU has this sick wine dinner where your $285 menu tells you what wines you’ll be drinking but not what food you’ll be eating - but don’t worry, it has the Bill Daley stamp of approval.


Tribune & Time Out Chicago: Dead Restaurants & Comfort Food