The Other Critics

Kramer Wishes She Could ‘Forget’ EL; Ruby Finds ‘Strange Magic’ at Antico

Kramer makes it down to EL.
Kramer makes it down to EL. Photo: Galdones Photography

Julia Kramer would “rather forget” much of her experience at EL, giving the new “micro-restaurant” two stars out of five. The room is “significantly less ramshackle and more pleasant” than she expected, and the dishes “demonstrate exceptional, solid technique,” but too often “domineering flavors interfere with otherwise pleasant plates.” A “gorgeous rib eye” is paired with “dollops of pungent blue cheese,” while a chowder is “capped with a blood clam…whose fishy clamminess eviscerates all other flavors.” [TOC]

Jeff Ruby found “some kind of strange magic” at Bucktown’s Antico. The restaurant is truly “focused on now,” where “everything that matters” is seasonal or made by hand. The gnocchi is second only to the version at A Tavola, and the short ribs were so good that he experienced a “fleeting moment…when everything hits you just right.” The “laid-back vibe” occasionally means slow service, and the desserts were merely “fine,” but Antico ultimately “does a lot of things right.” [Chicago Mag, first item]

Ruby has “little inclination to return” to Rustic House. The food “looked good” and felt like a restaurant he was “supposed to like,” but the appetizers and entrees he tried only “batted .500.” The gnocchi with foie gras was “bold,” but a $44 New York strip came out “chalky.” He also experienced “neglectful service,” one time waiting “nearly an hour for our food.” [Chicago Mag, second item]

Kramer Wishes She Could ‘Forget’ EL; Ruby Finds ‘Strange Magic’ at Antico