The Other Critics

2 Sparrows Gets 3 Stars From Tamarkin; Shouse Loves Cai, Sula Takes EL

Bacon doughnut at three-starred 2 Sparrows.
Bacon doughnut at three-starred 2 Sparrows. Photo: courtesy 2 Sparrows

More brunch from Time Out Chicago this week: David Tamarkin goes to 2 Sparrows and struggles with the existential nature of upscale breakfast— if you’re making think pieces like a foie gras pop tart (which grosses him out), are you losing the comfy point of breakfast? “That pop tart was the first thing I’d eaten all day, and I spent the rest of the meal trying to get the taste out of my mouth. Perhaps the richest elements of fine dining are relegated to dinner for a reason. You can eat the stuff and then immediately go to sleep.” In the end, he finds the simpler things satisfying and the more ambitious things unsatisfying, reserving praise for “a football-shaped honey-lemon doughnut with a satisfying, crisp crust and tart lemon-custard filling” and “a slice of mushroom-leek quiche with all the featherlight qualities of an expertly made souffle.” [TOC]

In the same issue Heather Shouse has a different kind of brunch at the new Chinatown spot Cai and is impressed by the prowess of Hong Kong and Toronto-trained chef Xi Xin Lin: “Lin is killing the competition with his creamy egg-yolk buns, the smooth, sweet rolls pulling apart to unveil a gooey, sugary, warm, yolky mess. Delicate free-form dumplings stuffed with shrimp and dried scallop float in a clear consommé packing the punch of pork and the restorativeness of chicken. Shumai dumplings drip with juices, their dark mushrooms jutting out through crowns of bright orange tobiko.” [TOC]

Mike Sula writes a not-quite-review of Phillip Foss and Andrew Brochu’s EL Ideas, since he’s known to them and got into their hard-to-get-into microrestaurant as part of a large party of foodies from a discussion site where Foss has participated. Nonetheless, along with retelling the story of Foss’s journey from the Palmer House to Meatyballs to EL, he says “Foss, too, is back in rare form. His ‘eggs’ dish was another of the best s [sic] I’ve eaten all year, a cool disk of uni flan perched on nuggets of sweet rock shrimp with custardy soft French-style scrambled eggs and arctic char roe, its layered richness slashed with a smear of acidic yuzu and a dollop of finger-lime pulp.” [Reader]

2 Sparrows Gets 3 Stars From Tamarkin; Shouse Loves Cai, Sula Takes EL