Y’all. The Sun-Times is insanely on point today. Seriously, this is a majestic collection of midweek food articles. We are intensely impressed by the work of whoever the hell is in charge of this section this week. (Features Editor Amanda Barrett? Should we send the flowers to you?)
• Sandy Thorn Clarke kicks things off with a discussion of buzz — that most elusive, most desired of qualities in a newly-opened restaurant. We’re tempted to assign this article as required reading to anyone who asks us “so what is it that you actually do all day?” (hi, Mom!) Various experts weigh in on what, exactly, buzz is: Rich Melman thinks it’s questioning whether you’ll be able to get in (we disagree), whereas the Dolinskster gives a lot of credit to the word-of-mouth effect of blogs. Also, Melman offers R.J. Grunt’s as an example of a restaurant that’s kept its buzz going since it opened in 1971. And that noise you just heard was our head exploding as we tried to hold in our snorting laughter.
It’s also worth noting the sidebar, listing the current “Restaurant A-List,” which cites as the current buzz crop L.2O, The Publican, and Urban Belly, all of which totally deserve the categorization. And then also includes Sixteen and Hub 51 — two widely-panned restaurants that, well, no one really cares about anymore. Could it be that their owner/managers were interviewed in the story? MAYBE. WHO KNOWS.
• Speaking of buzz! Seanan Forbes goes to NYC to watch Alinea chef Grant Achatz lead a seminar on aromas as part of the Gourmet Institute. He’s a mad dictator-meets-enthusiastic teenage science nerd, all with his characteristic charm. Sidebar shouts out Alinea At Home, which makes us happy because we are sort of obsessed with Carol Blymire.
• Speaking of being sort of obsessed! Mike Nagrant, the Ludicrously Prolific One, tells the tale of the Saccameno family, who pull astonishing hours at their Italian Superior Bakery on S. Western Ave — Angelo Sr. comes in at 1:30am to give a full shift before going to his day job at the Merc. Holy chronic fatigue syndrome, Batman! But seriously, folks, the bakery has been in the family for just under a century, and they’ve even got the hottie mchotterson 24-year-old sons involved. Gotta love a serious-looking man holding a peel.
• Speaking of hearts beating faster! Lisa Donovan puts her coronary health on the line to try the country-fried bacon at Risque Cafe, which is served with a side of country gravy [for those of you keeping score at home, that’s (1) bacon, (2) dipped in egg, (3) deep-fried (4) in breading, served with (5) gravy that’s made out of (6) bacon fat]. If you want to keep it simple, she also suggests the monthly “bottomless bacon bowl” at Chinaski’s.
• Speaking of hot meat! Susan Maddox, this week’s guest chef columnist, runs a restaurant called Le Titi de Paris and her article is entitled “Any day is a good day for stuffing,” and we are just going to leave those two facts there for you to think about.
[Photo: The salmon at L2O, via suzi edwards’ Flickr]