Sun-Times & Reader: All About the ‘Burbs

Let us begin this week’s roundup of reviews from the Reader and the Sun-Times with a repeat of last week’s call to prayer, which we are going to post every week until someone who both is employed by the Sun-Times and knows HTML sees it and takes action:
Seriously: go to this page and tell us if the links for Sage Bistro and Borrowed Earth work for you. See? We told you so.

Having have expended valuable seconds of our life manually fixing the URLs of Chicago’s Second-Favorite Newspaper, and in no way being bitter about it, on with the show.

• Two things confound us in the very first paragraph of Pat Bruno’s review of Weber Grill. The first is the very existence a restaurant that is branded after an appliance.(To us, it smacks of summer festival faux-restaurant:the Weber Grill! Find us in the Food-n-Fun Tent between the KitchenAid Bread Basket and The Cuisinart Salsa Stand!) The second is the opening sentence:

I get a lot of e-mails in the summer (and around the holidays, too) that come from suburbanites who are heading into the city for the day or a weekend and want a recommendation for family dining without spending a small fortune.

Seriously? There are people in the world who write to Pat Bruno for restaurant advice? Don’t get us wrong — it’s not Bruno himself that is the off note here. It’s the sort of fundamental concern of who are these people who are internet-savvy enough to send an email to the restaurant critic of a major newspaper, and yet are not internet-savvy enough to find sites like, oh, this one which is designed to help you find a restaurant. Anyway, blah blah, Bruno says that Weber Grill does “a respectable job” for these suburbanites* who want the OMGBigCity! experience without actually, you know, challenging their palates. Also: despite a key to the star ratings, there is no star count. [Bruno, S-T]

• “Free-lance writer” (god, we love how the S-T hyphenates that. So medieval ronin!) Thomas Witom heads to Downers Grove to visit Borrowed Earth Cafe, a vegan raw-foods restaurant from the appropriately named husband-and-wife team of Danny and Kathy Living, which succeeds admirably with its tricky conceit. “Lasagna,” “ice cream,”“couscous,” and “cheese” are just some of the quote-adorned mock items on the menu, and they all seem to pull it off with aplomb. [Witom, S-T]

• Witom’s really working the suburb beat this week, as he also hits up Sage Bistro in St. Charles. The place could probably coast by on atmosphere alone: the tiki torch-bedecked patio overlooks the Fox River, and has live jazz on weekend evenings. But the seafood-focused menu does okay by our reviewer: he loves the shrimp de jonghe, the fruits de mare, and the work of the kitchen’s two pastry chefs. [Witom, S-T]

• Meanwhile, over at the Reader, our secret boyfriend Mike Sula has visited Birrieria Zaragoza, a south-side joint specializing in birria, “a regional Jalisciense variant of the more widespread barbacoa, meat traditionally slow-cooked in a pit.” Owner Juan Zaragoza goes through as many goats in a weekend as there are days in the week, steaming the meat for hours and then treating it with an ancho mole before cooking some more. They’re served on tortillas made by a woman named Maria Guadalupe Jungo, who comes in a few days a week to man the press, and all in all it sounds like one of the greatest things on the green earth. Bonus: click here to watch a video of the birria being made! [Sula, Reader]

*Hush. We are from the suburbs.

[Photo: the sampler plate at Borrowed Earth, via spacekadet’s Flickr]


Sun-Times & Reader: All About the ‘Burbs