Chicago Tribune, paper with a crazy owner
• Phil Vettel teams up with Trib music critic Howard Reich to check out three potential all-in-one date spots: music and food, at one table, under one roof. Except here’s the catch: besides also covering their own bailiwicks, Phil reviews the music, and Howard reviews the food! Zing! Switcheroo! First up they visit Andy’s Jazz Club, where Howard has totally burned salmon (which he and Phil both like) and Phil has some “insipid” onion soup. Still, as Phil points out, folks don’t go here for the food. They also pay a visit to Pete Miller’s Steakhouse in Evanston (food’s really good, music’s solid) and check out Jilly’s in Naperville, for “not-great” food and a weird battle between the piano singer and the myriad sports-blaring flatscreens.
• Some commandments from Our Lord Vettel on how restaurants should be taking care of customers in these lean times, so we’ll want to go give them our money in exchange for a plate of linguini con aglio olio that costs approximately $0.14 in raw materials. They basically boil down to “don’t be a dick to your customers,” “value your good staff,” and “be flexible in your expectations.” But Vettel says it prettier than we do.
Chicago Sun-Times, paper with a crazy board of directors
• Pat Bruno’s review of Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta starts off with a broad criticism of the restaurant’s overly ambitious menu that sounds like it can go nowhere good. But then we get an abrupt U-turn: after panning the gnocchi (“all wrong”), the rest of the review is a litany of the good things Bruno found. The minestrone, the meatball sandwich, the pizza sauce, all get the benediction.
• Bruno also checks in on his old favorite May Street Market, which is still going strong three years after its opening. Super-strong, actually, as Bruno practically does backflips for everything on the menu, from backfin crabcakes (he helpfully explains what a dumbbell is shaped like, and we tried very hard not to make a joke here) to Terry’s Toffee blondie bars.
Chicago Reader, crazy paper
• In a tour de force, Mike Sula spends a day working in the kitchen at Moto. It’s everything you might imagine it would be: Sula doesn’t get to see the Class 4 Laser, but he does watch an edible birthday candle give off spheres of fire in a microwave, plays with some sort of projection-based expediting system (sounds very Minority Report), and passes along the stunning revelation that the Moto team is working on “a riff on Moons Over My Hammy at Denny’s that featured saffron-butter-filled ravioli made from a protein-binder-manipulated scallop fused with a piece of house-cured pork belly.” Well, duh.
[Photo: Moto/Official Site]