Tribune Dining, Digested: Vettel x4, Elevated Alehouse, Pork Belly

Phil Vettel! We hope you got a bonus check this week because you have like nine billion bylines today. Or, okay, four, and two of them are really the same article, but still.

• Vettel #1: It was almost five months ago that Adam Peltz, our distinguished predecessor on this blog, reported on the opening of Marcus Samuelsson’s C-House, noting that Vettel had gone for breakfast and written about it. And hey! Check this out! Today, at last, he finally files his real review. A lag that epic makes us raise a questioning eyebrow: As with many of the restaurants covered by multiple publications’ reviewers, we notice here that Vettel’s is far and away the most positive. And as with all those other restaurants, we’re not sure if the tone has more to do with his sunny disposition, or with his tendency to file his reviews later than other media outlets, thus possibly giving the restaurant a chance to address weak spots pointed out by other critics. Or maybe everyone just knows exactly what Vettel looks like. But, if you’ll pardon the pun, there’s clearly something fishy going on: even Pat Bruno panned this place. But the restaurant is awarded 2 stars, with Phil’s compliments to the chef: the only weak spot are some “not at their best” mussels, while nearly everything else merits a rave. Hmmm.

• Vettel #2: The dude went to Chicago Gourmet. His bulleted list of highs and lows: not enough chairs, shoddy music, unclear signage. Oh and all you people complaining there wasn’t enough food? Phil thinks you’re wrong — he managed to find plenty.

• Vettel #3: Sushi: Is it over? Phil gives us a list of 5 signs of the sushi apocalypse, including the use of chocolate sauce as a legitimate ingredient and a return to the fad of eating sushi off of naked people (they’re already doing that in New York!).

• Vettel #4: Sushi: It’s still awesome! Phil counterpoints himself with a roundup of Trib staffer’s favorite rolls, including Chris Borelli’s pick of the pickled mackerel roll at Katsu, a recommendation with which we heartily agree.

• Speaking of Chris Borrelli! He dons the Cheap Eats mantle to visit Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen in Crystal Lake (110 N. Main St., Crystal Lake, 815 356 9980). In a five-paragraph review, only the last (and shortest) two grafs deal with the food, and it’s not all good: “gummy” polenta, underwhelming cupcake frosting, but “better” meatloaf. Chris falls for the pub’s self-aware good humor and strong desire to rise above standard alehouse fare, awarding it two forks, which we’ll read as an A for effort.

• Last but oh-so-certainly not least is Trine Tsouderos’s listicle of three places to eat pork belly: the ramen at Urban Belly, the When Harry Met Sally (squid and pork belly together) at Korean Seoulfood Cafe, and the straight-up pork belly at Perennial. Of course in a perfect world the answer to the question “where can I score some awesome pork belly” would be “It is in all of us, my son.” But this’ll do for now.

[Photo: The pork belly ramen at Urban Belly, via food_in_mouth’s Flickr]

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Tribune Dining, Digested: Vettel x4, Elevated Alehouse, Pork Belly