Okay, so newcomers Urban Belly, Duchamp, and Old Oak Tap aren’t actually old news. In fact, as far as we can tell, the Reader team is the first to issue an official verdict on Old Oak, the newest of the newcomers. But you come up with a better post headline. All three reviews are right here.
• Mike Sula’s at Urban Belly. Like those who’ve gone before, he swoons for the dumplings — again, the lamb-and-brandy combination gets a particularly euphoric shout-out. But the adulation stops at the dumpling line: the rice bowls are “greasy,” the noodle dishes have some high notes (the pork belly ramen is singled out) but most “exhaust the palate.” The widely-panned soba/scallops in blue crab broth is “an unmitigated disaster.”
• Early reviews of Duchamp noted an inconsistent kitchen, but Sula finds little to dislike besides some design decisions (“bar stools that resemble torture devices,” and whatnot). The menu might rely a little heavily on Thomas Keller-esque quotation marks, but the “fish and chips” (fried skate with tartar sauce) holds up, as does the very of-the-moment dessert of mini chocolate cupcakes and mini ice cream sandwiches.
• Our favorite line from Reese Witherspoon career-highlight movie Sweet Home Alabama comes when she’s back home in the titular state, is out for drinks with her old friends, and notices one has a curious accessory: “You have a baby!” she says. “…In a bar!” But per Reader critic Martha Bayne, that’s more or less the scene at Old Oak Tap, where “every third patron seemed to be bouncing a baby between sips of Saison DuPont.” The spruced-up bar menu (sriracha wings, crabmeat club sandwiches) aims high and lands middling, the beer list is eclectic but predictable. A solid turn on a predictable formula.
[photo: yet another Urban Belly photo, because neither Duchamp nor Old Oak Tavern is represented on Flickr. via]