Buzz List for January 30, 2017
Income Tax passes Nagrant's audit, Elske is fairly hygge per Sula, where those wings everybody loves at Great Seas came from, and drinking pulque in bulk.
Michael Nagrant goes line by line over Income Tax’s menu, expecting to find it trying too many things at once, but is impressed by the end: “The best dish at Income Tax is a housemade carrot agnolotti ($16), featuring silky carrot-infused pasta wrappers stuffed with roasted oyster mushrooms and tangy sour cream. Purple carrot slices from Nichols Farm & Orchard added a nice raw crunch, and crispy nubbins of fried sweetbreads dotted the plate.” (Redeye)
2. HYGGE PIGGLEDY
Mike Sula’s review of Elske undercuts the obligatory mention of hygge (comfiness) by referencing cannibalism (that is, Soylent Green), and overall his take is kind of hit and miss: “A smooth duck liver tart is rich and creamy, though the salted ramps said to be incorporated therein don’t make their presence known. Roasted leeks topped with a shell of melted and congealed bandaged cheddar is a powerfully umamic dish, while confit bass bathing in a richly sweet pool of squash broth is among Posey’s most luxurious and triumphant dishes. The aforementioned brisket is tough and undercooked and a bit of a letdown after all that, but somewhat redeemed by the creamed sprouts given texture with raw broccoli.”
3. GUY'S FULL OF BEACON
Phil Vettel finds seafood and comfort food in a building that once housed a McD’s at Billy Lawless’s Beacon Tavern: “The blue prawn dish is the star of the raw bar. The prawns arrive under a pretty blanket of tomato, watercress and grated horseradish, and peppadew peppers (not mentioned on the menu) provide bursts of acidity and moderate heat that really make the dish come alive… [Chef Robert] Broskey gets whimsical with his ‘Nibbles’ menu section, which features a relish tray (pickles, veggies, pimento cheese, Ritz crackers) that could have been stolen from a Wisconsin supper club, and baked-to-order ‘cheddar bay biscuits’ that are an homage to (and very reasonable facsimile of) the cult-level biscuits at Red Lobster.” (Tribune)
4. A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO ROME
I’m not convinced dining at Next’s Ancient Rome menu will really feel like this, but the video they did for it is pretty entertaining—it’s a big freeze frame scene, and you can just barely tell they’re really all standing there holding their deadpan Ancient Rome poses. Well done.
5. POINT BLANCH
When I went to a media dinner for The Blanchard last week, it was revealed that the chef was now Jason Paskewitz’s chef de cuisine, Ryan Burns. So I wasn’t surprised by the news shortly after that Paskewitz was out—and is the latest in a series of chefs at Ocean Cut, the former C Chicago. (Who eats there?) The Blanchard is still doing its foie-heavy French menu, and familiar things like the oeuf outhier remain, but it has a ways to go to recover the magic that it had when it opened as the first notably new French restaurant in a while. (Tribune)
6. NAKED CAME THE CHALUPA
I’m not wild about major food media racing to cover big chain stunts like a giant Big Mac or a chalupa Lecterishly wrapped in chicken—to me that’s falling for corporate clickbait. That said, if you must have coverage of Taco Bell’s nakedly chicken-shrouded chalupa, you can’t do better than the new episode of Car Con Carne, with guest John Caruthers of ManBQue, as they go to Taco Bell for a tastebud-changing experience.
7. PULQUE UP
David Hammond takes a look at a Chicago restaurant serving pulque: “As the agave matures and prepares to send up a central stalk topped with a flower, its core swells with sweet juice called aguamiel (literally ‘honey water’). Centuries before Columbus came to the New World, the ancient Aztecs and others discovered that if they cut out the core of the still-living agave plant, this central cavity would fill with aguamiel that in a matter of days ferments to become pulque.” (Tribune)
8. WING-ENG IT
Everybody knows about Great Seas’ chicken wings (they get name checked in the Car Con Carne episode above, for one) but Monica Eng explores the history behind this style of wing and finds two rival claimants behind them. (WBEZ)
9. TURNING HAINANESE
Hainanese chicken and rice, the national dish of Singapore? One of those things you hear about, but don’t see on Chicago menus—but Steve Dolinsky found it.
10. 30 BY 30
Zagat has a list of 30 key dishes right now around town, though it also came in for some Twitter criticism for being pretty north side focused.
It’s like LTHForum in 2005 all over again: hey, it’s not right that the Hopleaf won’t let my kids in, somebody says at Chicago mag. Owner Michael Roper’s response in the comments seems pretty definitive—anyway, it’s never offended me, even as I generally will take my kids anywhere (but also feel like I’m pretty sane about where they should and shouldn’t be).
Congrats to Friend of Fooditor and Chicagoist food editor Anthony Todd, and Matt Vail, who were married in Three Oaks, Michigan this weekend.
WHAT MIKE ATE
Besides The Blanchard (noted above), I ate at Eden (as guest of PR), the new restaurant from Paramount Catering, and—you know how when something is hit or miss, it’s always that the entrees didn’t measure up to the starters? This was kind of the opposite—peri-peri chicken and lamb were very good, but the things leading up to it were all over the map (a great ceviche of escolar and pomegranates, but a duck lasagna was weird and bland, etc.) Still, I’d rank it as a bit of an under the radar find worth watching. And I went to a practice night for Quiote, the Mexican mescal bar-restaurant which officially opens at the end of this week. As at its popup last fall at Eataly, I found nearly everything on the menu from Dan Salls (The Garage) highly scarfable, Mexican comfy food at its best.