Sun-Times, Reader, NewCity: Sunda, Sunda, Sundaaaaaa

(The idea is to read the post title in a Monster Truck Rally voice, y’dig?)

• Everyone loves Sunda! Pat Bruno sure does — he looks past his hatred of communal tables (here described as “danged”) in order to fall for the chicken siu mai, the beef lollipops, and various sushis. Pork char siu isn’t to his liking, but who cares when the scene is this hot. In uniquely Bruno cadence, we’re informed that the place “has been stacking customers like cord wood.” [Sun-Times]

• Mike Sula’s also at Sunda, which he likes almost despite himself. There’s a lot working against it: overly-twee menu item names, poorly contrived dishes like a “jerky-like” unagi and watermelon salad, and the overwhelming aura of Billy Dec’s ego all conspire against the stuff that actually succeeds. But the “wa-machi” roll, the crispy pork pata (minus the foie gras gravy), and the “ridiculous” dessert all do quite well by Mr. Sula. [Reader, first item]

There’s more food in this town than just Sunda, though:

• Bruno also swings by The Grocery Bistro, where he fails to swoon wholesale, but does swoon in limited doses. The gorgonzola polenta accompanying a dish of chicken thighs is elevating, as is an appetizer of lobster brandade. Elsewhere, the menu has more ambition than delivery — a dessert of a PBJ sandwich, for example, works better in theory than in practice. [Sun-Times]

• It’s textbook French brasserie for Thomas Witom at Winnetka’s Mirani’s: French onion soup, beet-and-goat-cheese salad, coq au vin. It’s all deftly executed, with entrees going a tidge more adventurous than the predictable (albeit yummy) appetizer selection — mustard-encrusted salmon, crevettes with saffron risotto, and other francophile delights. [Sun-Times]

• Downscale is the new upscale, right? Michael Nagrant takes a look at two newcomers who are trying to redefine our take on casual sandwich-style eating: Lunch Rolls and Birchwood Kitchen. In a head-to-head competition, Lunch Rolls surprisingly edges ahead of Birchwood Kitchen in the sandwich department — this despite the former’s ennui-ridden service and atmospheric cliches. But that’s not to remotely imply that Birchwood’s in any way bad; on the contrary, its welcoming atmosphere is matched by good, if not great, fare. [NewCity]

• Anne Spiselman appears to agree with TOC’s assessment of Friday-and-Saturday-only restaurant Pintxos: cruddy tapas. Sure, the tortilla espanola is good. But “autopilot” servers and unsatisfying food do not a good restaurant make. [Reader, second item]

• Martha Bayne doesn’t so much offer a review of Amelia’s Bar and Grill, as she makes a case for it. Spun off from Mundial Cocina Mestiza and taking residence off the beaten path out in Back of the Yards, the restaurant is unassuming, underdecorated, and culinarily inconsistent (oysters are fresh, if bland, but halibut has an overwhelmingly “beyond-briny” smell), but pulls out the stops in its tiny kitchen to produce some beautiful results. Mediterranean-fusion flavors build on a regional Mexican foundation. Hopefully in time enough folks will visit so that the restaurant can afford cable and the host can watch his Sox game. [Reader, third item]

[Photo provided by Sunda]


Sun-Times, Reader, NewCity: Sunda, Sunda, Sundaaaaaa