• It was all the way back in late July that Duchamp opened, and about a month later we a review from TOC, with a Reader review arriving a month after that. And now a month later, Phil Vettel is finally settling in for his surrealism-inspired restaurant review. Again, we note with some eyebrow-arching that he is both the latest-arriving and most-forgiving of the reviews out so far, and we wonder whether there is some causation (is the kitchen better? the service more polished?) or just correlation (is Vettel just lazy on the openings and overly forgiving?). Nonetheless, this is a good restaurant to be reviewing right about now: The food is on-trend, with bacon and reimagined comfort food to be found everywhere. And the prices are on-trend, with entrees topping out under $20. Vettel hands the place two stars, but — like Sula at the Reader — finds the seating lacking: apparently his butt is too big to fit in the chairs. NOT A JOKE. Yet hilarious!
• Vettel’s butt size is probably not helped by the shortrib pizza at Mercat a la Planxa.
• Renee Enna has been landing mucho bylines lately, which is pleasing to us thus far in large part because her name has lots of consecutive letters, and that is fun for us to type (of the nine letters in her name, four are Es!). She’s on the Cheap Eats beat, heading out to Palatine for the amusingly named Fusion Land (1939 Plum Grove Rd., Palatine; 847 705 7740). The menu isn’t fusion in the haute sense — just one item, the teriyaki burger, mixes cultures on the same plate — but rather offers a melange of Japanese and American fast-food-esque options. Enna falls for the high-quality maki and udon, and suggests a rename: “Stick With the Japanese Menu Land.” Three forks out of four.
• Jennifer Day suggests scary food to be found at Chicago restaurants, with a spooky focus honing in on Vampire Bait (cubed pork blood tossed with noodles and ground pork in curry broth at Sticky Rice), the death-defying Country Fried Bacon at Risque Cafe, and The Bristol’s ELT (eel, lettuce, and tomato), which makes the grade as a “sea monster.” Really? Sea monsters qualify for Halloween-spooky now? Kids these days need to get the hell off our lawn.
[Photo: Risque Cafe’s country-fried bacon, via Chuck Sudo at Chicagoist]