Tribune Food, Digested: The $30 Price Ceiling

Another week, another lack of an online Phil Vettel review. It’s a rare day that we pick up the paper paper, preferring instead to never leave the warm embrace of our monitor and ergo-chair, so we’ve actually got no clue if there’s a center-ring Tribune restaurant review that’s accessible to anyone less lazy than we are, or if this is like last week, when Vettel’s review didn’t go online until approximately ten billion P.M., and so we didn’t get to levy our magisterial judgment until the next day.

Nevertheless, there is plenty to be had. Have we mentioned that we’re in a recession period of economic downturn? Oh, yeah, maybe like four or nineteen thousand times. The team behind the Tribune’s dining section has teamed up to reconcile your plummeting net worth with your desire to be well-fed, and rattles off a number of ways to get high-end carryout under $30. For this, we applaud them.

Monica Eng takes her $30 for carryout and spends it on octopus and stracci at Cafe Spiaggia. See how the name of the restaurant right there is a link to the MenuPages listing for the restaurant? PEOPLE: MONICA ENG HAS BEEN TO THAT WEBPAGE. That’s right, there’s a nice little MP:C shoutout in her article. Click fast, while the glitter of her visit lingers on the URL.

• We’re still basking in the glow from the M.Eng mention, so we are not even the tidgiest bit irked by the fact that her $30-and-under venture is the only one to merit its own unique page on the Trib’s site. The rest of the crew are grouped up around a photogallery with an intro by Trine Tsouderos, and while Eng is #1 (in our hearts, too), the others are also solid: 2) Vettel at Carlucci in Downer’s Grove; 3) Eng again, at Old Town Brasserie for some salad, pate, and pickles; 4) Tsouderos at Scoozi with two types of pasta; 5) Chris Borrelli downs whole wheat pasta with duck at Sepia; 6) Tsouderos orders the ludicrous (but delicious!) duck and foie gras flan at Shikago ; 7) Borelli’s in Winnetka, at Restaurant Michael, for Australian Lamb two ways. Basically this entire conceit is a giant MenuPages promotion, because the entire purpose of the restaurant we write for is to enable you to do precisely what these intrepid reporters are doing. We feel very fulfilled, right about now.

• And a couple more under-$30 ideas: Chris Borelli gives a shout out to Real Tenochtitlan, and Trine Tsouderos has love in her heart for the black pepper garlic beef tenderloin at Double Li.

• A real review! Ms. Eng, again, on the Cheap Eats beat, this time heading to Skokie for some hard-hitting southeast Asian at Tub Tim Thai (4927 Oakton St., Skokie, 847 675 8424). The restaurant clocks in at a highly respectable 3 forks, based on the combined strengths of their American-Thai mainstays (green papaya salad, fried calamari with sweet chili sauce) and less predictable offerings (like meang kum, which involves chapoo leaves, peanuts, dried shrimp, toasted coconut, ginger, lime and shallot).

Et enfin, Chris Borrelli files a book report on the Edible Series, from U of C press, each of whose three volumes follows the history and lore of an iconic food: pizza, hamburger, and pancake. The books are tied in academic research into the history of each dish, but read like sizzling memoir — Borrelli really seems to like them. Also, fun fact, he owns a cat. (Adding that one to the Borrelli file…)

[Photo: this bacon/peach/blue cheese flatbread from Sepia can be yours, at home! via Tammy Green, all rights reserved]


Tribune Food, Digested: The $30 Price Ceiling