Sad news as Jean-Claude Poilevey, chef-owner of Le Bouchon and La Sardine and a fixture of French cuisine in Chicago for several decades, was killed in a multicar pileup early Sunday morning. Many remembrances online; check out David Hammond’s at and this one by Heather Shouse at Facebook.


Michael Nagrant’s review of Imperial Lamian is pretty much a rave—”Imperial Lamian’s arrival in River North should be worrisome for nearby Chinese chain P.F. Chang’s. The gourmet, well-executed cuisine is so good that I imagine they’ll steal away a lot of business”—but it also does the best job I’ve read of explaining the backstory of this restaurant, its three chefs and how it wound up in River North. It’s essential reading before going—or in my case, going back after a disappointing first time, I must admit.


What is Alinea: The Progression? Friend of Fooditor Lou Stejskal went and has a report on her blog—though as she says, if you’re going to go, you probably want to let it keep its surprises for your experience. If not, click here.


Mike Sula gets to the point you want to hear about Forbidden Root’s new brewery in West Town: “Comparisons to ‘culinary brewhouse’ Band of Bohemia are inevitable. Forbidden Root is brewing ‘botanical’ beers, suds with both subtle and unsubtle food flavors… They’re mostly pretty good, and unlike the complicated, confusing pairing scheme at Band of Bohemia, drinking them doesn’t seem essential to enjoying the food from chef Dan Weiland, who’s put in time at TrenchermenBlackbird, and Avec.”


Phil Vettel discusses the changes at Intro (which we covered here) by way of getting to a three-star review of Jessica Largey’s food: “Fermented carrots add crunch and umami to steak tartare, ringed with olive crackers; the abalone toast is piled so high with abalone (tossed in black vinegar and slathered with brown-butter aioli), shiitake mushrooms and charred, yuzu-doused cucumber, it’s like some sort of Bruschetta Gone Wild.” (Tribune)


Nick Kindelsperger looks at new ramen import Kizuki, gravitating to one of the more unusual things on the menu, the yuzo-tinged shio ramen: “The fresh citrus aroma of yuzu — a Japanese citrus fruit that smells almost like a cross between a lime and an orange — hangs over the bowl. Fortunately, the broth doesn’t taste like you sucked on a lime; instead, it’s clean and bright, with just a hint of citrus enhanced with sea salt.” On the subject, though Friend of Fooditor Kenny Z has a problem with the place though; as he tweeted, “2 attempts at Ramen at Kizuki, the supposedly authentic chain from Japan, and 2 bowls of noodles clumped together in an breakable block.”


The presence of someone called Andrew W.K. at something called the Chicago Pizza Summit was something we did not pay attention to despite its best efforts, but (continuing in the royal we) we chortled a couple of times at Joe Hernandez’s interview with what appears to be Wayne Campbell (of Wayne’s World… we had to look up his last name too) come to life.


A venerable old guy who needs to prove nothing to nobody comes in for whacking by the P.C. young’uns! But enough about Gay Talese. Meanwhile, in the world of food, Calvin Trillin publishes one of his mildly amusing poems about how Chinese food keeps growing in this country, and anyone with half a brain can see that he’s poking gentle fun at comfortable older white people like himself trying to keep up with immigrant food diversity. So naturally humorless tribal types immediately jump on his racism! and cultural appropriation! A group that alas, includes Eddie Huang (currently culturally appropriating Sprite), drawing comments like this from one Rich Smith: “This longing for a time of chow mein – which is, as I’m sure the food writer knows – a westernized dish – is a longing for the days of a white planet.”

Needless to say (but apparently not), Trillin has been a champion of anything but a white planet and white food for half a century, almost single-handedly inventing the field of writing about “vernacular” food in America. Monica Eng calls attention to a 2003 piece she did about him, eating his way through Argyle street, which shows how far wrong the characterization is. (There’s more conversation about this at Eng and Louisa Chu’s Chewing podcast, too, including with Jonathan Gold from his recent visit.)

I’ve written about the dangers of letting P.C. scare us away from other groups’ food before, but the main thing to remember when some activist starts saying other people have no business messin’ with their food is—it’s not their food just because they happened to be born in the group, they probably can’t even operate a frying pan, just their mouth. The people who actually work hard to make the food that is their heritage count on your wanting to pay money for it at their, maybe you’ve heard of them, restaurants. Support them and try it, as the great Calvin Trillin (I call him that despite his poetry) has been doing longer than you’ve been alive, kid.


And what, Trillin’s not enough, now we’re gonna pick on Hot Doug’s, too? Let’s go trash Santa Claus next! (Reader)


Generally my interest in Mindy Segal’s line of pot baked goods has been in inverse proportion to the hype they’ve gotten, so kudos to Mike Sula for a piece that digs deep enough into the chemistry, the industry, and how you make a brownie that doesn’t taste like rotten lawn clippings to be interesting on levels above sniggering about pot treats. (Reader)


A Loop McDonald’s is testing a coffee kiosk with no humans involved. I’m sure the proposed $15 minimum wage has nothing to do with it. Because how could you replace the warm humanity of ordering at McDonald’s?


Chicagoist points you to the city’s freshly updated farmers market schedule here.


First, took a bunch of out of town Francophile guests to The Blanchard, which they loved—and I recommend the oddest sounding dessert on the menu, a black currant mousse, which was full of fruit flavor surprises. I tried Oyster Bah, and on the plus side, the downstairs bar is cozy and the oyster selection and service is impeccable. But a main course lobster roll, allegedly the same one as at Shaw’s, was technically correct but just a little lacking in excitement compared to the near-perfect minimalist original.