Tribune Dining: Perennial, Mr. Breakfast, Chicago Gourmet

Today’s Tribune dining section, quickly posted before you leave the glow of your computer screen, the deep yet undeniably digital embrace of this blog and its love for you, to be with your real family and friends. Not that we are bitter.

• Christopher Borrelli swings for a Pulitzer this week, hilariously and brilliantly bringing us the story of Alan Barrett, a.k.a. Mr. Breakfast. Barrett’s goal is a simple one: to eat breakfast in a different Chicago restaurant every Saturday morning. He’s been trying since 1999, and he’s worried he’s hit a wall. He’s actually revisiting restaurants. Borrelli finds a sympathetic curmudgeon behind the epic quest: Barrett has a list of qualities a restaurant must possess to be acceptable, he is very picky about his silverware, he’s reluctant to leave the north side, and he hates dim sum. We love this article so much we want to make out with it.

• If you haven’t already been reading about it, in two weeks there’s a big ol’ festival in Grant Park called Chicago Gourmet. Even if you have been reading about it, Monica Eng has the scoop on what is, in many ways, the anti-Taste. $150 for a ticket, plus extra for seminars, and there’s more sampling and demonstrations than you can shake a hand-harvested sprig of rosemary at.

• Phil Vettel opens his review of Perennial by admitting that, in fact, he has never eaten in the dining room. Rather, he talks us through time spent on the patio and at the bar. But the point, we think, is that the patio and the bar were both really really nice. The rest of it reads as really really nice, too — from the seasonal vegetable tart, to the “unusually meaty” pork belly, to the edamame-studded macaroni & cheese. Once again, Vettel’s the last of the big reviewers to hit up a restaurant, and either it works to his advantage, or he’s overly generous. The canneloni that Mike Sula called “a textural nightmare of overmanipulated manky meatstuff” is here lauded: “the well-seasoned filling makes this dish a hit.” Of course, it’s not all happiness and light (there’s an “overcooked and flavor-impaired” bacon-wrapped trout), but still Vettel hands chefs Tentori and Poli a hefty three stars.

[Photo: the first thing that comes up when you flickr search “Perennial Chicago,” via amma_maw’s Flickr]


Tribune Dining: Perennial, Mr. Breakfast, Chicago Gourmet