The Other Critics

Tamarkin Lets BLT Have It; Sula Wowed By Yusho

Most critics don’t like to write a total slam, you know there’s real people’s hearts and dreams behind even the most incompetent places, but if there’s anything you can feel fine about letting have it with both barrels, it’s an overpriced, condescending interloper from New York City. Hence David Tamarkin’s excoriation of BLT American Brasserie: “I entered Tourondel’s first Chicago venture with no side in this fight. I had never eaten at a BLT restaurant. I was excited to do so. Why, then, was I punished with a veggie burger so wrought with what I assume was cayenne pepper that I could take only one bite? Why did my phenomenally flavorless French dip sandwich arrive without the dip? Why was I victim to the riddle that is this restaurant’s Negroni, which, having neither gin nor Campari, tastes nothing like a Negroni? Why was my blooming onion so overly fried that the coating fell from the onion, making it impossible to eat? And what is a blooming onion doing on this menu anyway?” A genuinely justified scorched-earth take-no-prisoners rant is always worth reading. This review is worth reading in full. [TOC]

You think Julia Kramer’s going to be nicer to Goosefoot than she winds up being. In fact, it may well be seeing the real people involved— chef Chris Nugent and his wife— that keeps her as favorable toward her experience as she is (she gives it four stars out of five), because she isn’t as wowed by the food as most: “Goosefoot’s food… doesn’t err. But it also doesn’t surprise… It satisfied me, but it didn’t excite me. I wanted more personality.” [TOC]

Michael Nagrant finds Bar Toma a great improvement for touristville, but not the destination it could be: “I wish I could be more effusive. I have all the respect in the world for Mantuano. Gregarious, passionate and inspiring, he’s definitely earned his place in the pantheon of four-star Chicago chefs. As Rick Bayless was to regional Mexican food, Mantuano was to luxurious pan-Italian food. But while Mantuano has been a good ambassador for Italian ingredients and techniques, I’ve never quite felt he was as fastidious or as invested in Italian culture as Bayless was in Mexico.” The resulting restaurant with some of everything can’t quite deliver on everything at the same level, Nagrant seems to think. [Sun-Times]

Fresh from a mixed take on Slurping Turtle, Mike Sula is pretty much wowed by Yusho: “Perhaps this doesn’t say much, but these are the most thoughtfully constructed yakitori in town, with an attention to detail echoed in more carefully composed little plates like a devastating urchin dish, a pair of crispy fried uni-stuffed egg rolls draped with another clean piece of echinoderm gonad, its nautical foaminess offset by the complementary textures and flavors of pomegranate seeds and thin slivers of pickled Buddha’s hand.” [Reader]

Kenny Zuckerberg, who has little compunction about skewers in reviews, goes out in search of that midwestern delicacy the lobster roll. That he finds one that offends him (The Fish Guy’s) is perhaps not surprising. That he finds one that delights him might: “Starting with the ones who get it, we have New England Seafood Company… Here, large, meaty chunks of fresh, perfectly poached lobster are given a shake or two of mild paprika and Old Bay (they say the seasoning is a secret. I say it’s Old Bay) before being generously piled into a simple, split bun classically slathered with butter and griddled. There’s no mayo mixed in - just a smear placed on the roll itself. The lobster is cooked fresh daily, then served chilled with a drizzle of warm butter at service time to create a pleasing temperature contrast. This lobster roll is a thing of beauty. It’s big, but you’ll want to eat two.” [FOF]

The perfect bi bim bop with crusty rice at the bottom of the stone bowl can be hard to find, but Titus finds it at Woori Village, a big shopping mall Korean place in Niles: “At first I was being a little bit of a food snob when I saw that theirs came with ground beef. I’m not sure if you can upgrade to steak but I didn’t and got ground beef. At first I was like WTF but after a couple bites I was like hot damn! It came served in a stone bowl and the rice was crispy and browned on the bottom, just the way I like it… Make a day of it and stop in at the King Spa and Sauna which is located in the same complex.” [Smokin’ Chokin’ and Chowin’ With the King]

Tamarkin Lets BLT Have It; Sula Wowed By Yusho