TOC & Tribune: Summer’s Here!

• Any roundup of this summer’s summeriest summer drinks must be topped by the Forbidden Fruit Punch at the lobby Living Room bar at the W Hotel: you get a gallon (you read that right) of fruit-n-booze for a mere $35. Also worth checking out: the Four Seasons Hotel Chic, and Kirkwood Bar & Grill. [Tribune]

• Chris Borelli sits down with playwright Tracy Letts at Dinkel’s Bakery to discuss “Superior Donuts,” Letts’ followup to his Pulitzer-prize winning August: Osage County. Why donuts? “A doughnut shop just seemed like a good jumping-off point for a play that deals with a disappearing America, and a disappearing Chicago… I wanted to get into the idea of how these shops are gathering places for communities. That’s gone away, I think.” [Tribune]

• A comprehensive guide to beachside street food. Mango-leche paletas, ham tortas with mayo and pickled jalapeño, tamales with pork and salsa verde, and double-dogs all sound great. But it’s the gazpachos — “cucumber, watermelon, mango and pineapple, peeled and cut to order, then doused in lime juice, salt, cayenne pepper and orange juice” — that gets our heart racing. [TOC]

As for reviews…

• Phil Vettel joins the ranks of L.2O-philes, four-starring chef Laurent Gras, who “does with fish what Green Zebra’s Shawn McClain does with vegetables and Alinea’s Grant Achatz does with damn near everything.” Such language! The Trib is a family paper, Phil. Still, the descriptions of deconstructed baccala, shabu-shabu and its meta-incarnation as a noodle dish, and the glorious-sounding Gold Egg Yolk (pork belly, kampachi, and the titular yolk) sound obscene as well (in absolutely the best way). [Vettel, Tribune]

• Oak Park’s got a new sandwich-and-pastry place, Eastgate Cafe. Some misses (PB&J; on a hard french baguette - huh?), but the hits do fine by Trine Tsouderos, who welcomes the new spot to the neighborhood. [Tsouderos, Tribune]

• Heather Shouse goes outside city limits to Inari Sushi, in Elmwood park. Despite a clientèle described as “glittery bebe tops, Jersey hair and deep tans” (ugh), and only so-so straightforward sushi, the creative options — while entirely inauthentic — really shine (like the awesome-sounding sliced red snapper with ponzu, radish, fresh lemon and red grapes). [Shouse, TOC]

• In our opinion, ajasteak has a very dumb name. (Say it out loud. Get it?! It’s an Asian steakhouse. Bleh.) With that strike already against it, David Tamarkin’s laundry list of the restaurant’s faults doesn’t really help matters. There’s the unpleasant fellow diners (“a pair of businessmen who, when they saw that they were about to be seated next to my decidedly unbusinesslike companion and I, sneered and ordered that they be delivered to another table”), the icky dining room (“the space seems better suited for a lounge-cum-Continental-breakfast-buffet á la Embassy Suites”), and — the final blow — the menu doesn’t make up for it. While the wagyu steak is good, the sushi is “unforgivable,” given the prices. Tamarkin gives it 3 stars out of 6, which seems overgenerous given the review. But who are we to judge? [Tamarkin, TOC]

[Photo: tuna & hamachi checkerboard at L2O, via lesleyk’s Flickr]


TOC & Tribune: Summer’s Here!