The Other Critics

Vettel Admires ‘Passion’ of Rustic House; Tamarkin Okay with ‘Safe’ Francesca Forno

The New York strip from Rustic House.
The New York strip from Rustic House. Photo: courtesy of Facebook

Phil Vettel hands out a surprising three stars out of four to Rustic House, writing that chef Jason Paskewitz “ably demonstrates that simple does not mean simplistic.” The cooking “abounds with passion,” and even the “desserts are pure fun.” Thanks to the built in rotisserie, most of the meats “get just a little salt and pepper,” which “will remind one of the virtues of simplicity.” Even the New York strip, which is cooked on the wood-burning grill, is a “serious, steakhouse-quality hunk of beef that can hold its own with any steak downtown.” [Trib]

Francesca’s Forno may have closed for a renovation, but David Tamarkin finds that the “result is awfully familiar.” Luckily, he believes that “Francesca’s is good at safe,” awarding the spot three stars out of five. The menu actually “exhibits an adventurous spirit here and there,” but it’s mostly best to “stick to the program.” His simple advice: “Can you spread it on bread? Order it. Is it a dessert? Avoid it.” [TOC]

Mike Sula checks in with Al Dente — another restaurant far from downtown staffed with former Spiaggia vets. While it isn’t quite the knockout that Autre Monde turned out to be, the restaurant “shows a lot of potential, and deserves to be recognized beyond its neighborhood.” The “Mexican-accented but largely seasonal midwestern-Italian plates” offer the odd “head-scratcher,” like the dry shredded pork shoulder. But when chef Javier Perez “practices simplicity,” the dishes showcase a “cook who’s paid his dues and can be forgiven the occasional misstep.” [Chicago Reader]

Vettel Admires ‘Passion’ of Rustic House; Tamarkin Okay with ‘Safe’ Francesca