The last week of summer proved to be Hard Realities Week in Chicago. Despite finally having a new chef, Cantina 1910 didn’t make it; there were takes on that here at Fooditor and at Chicagoist. The county is out to put the squeeze, taxwise, on pop music venues because, apparently, rock and roll or hiphop are not culture (yeah, it’s not like popular music’s ever been important to Chicago); expect more of this from Illinois governments as the pension crisis gets worse, and don’t think restaurants will be exempt. U of C students were shocked to discover they’re entering a fascist dystopia of free speech and academic rigor this fall. And Tronc gets closer to being bought by Gannett with a move by a shareholder who owns more than Michael Ferro; who knows what any of our papers may look like this time next year.


Big week for Hanbun, the Korean restaurant and tasting menu in a Westmont strip mall. Mike Sula reviewed it and raves about the regular menu and especially the tasting menu: “As refined (and yet affordable) as these common dishes are, they don’t approach the level of artistry that [chef David] Park displays on weekend nights, when he sets a single table behind the counter for six to nine guests and serves a multicourse juhnyuk, or dinner tasting, of beautifully plated dishes. Park draws on an array of influences for this menu, but they do skew more Korean. It isn’t the approachable innovation of, say, Parachute, but rather Korean through a modernist lens.” Meanwhile Steve Dolinsky visited it with video here, and Friend Of Fooditor Lou Stejskal has the prettiest pictures from the tasting menu here.


Sarah Freeman, who did some of the best stories to come out of Eater Chicago of late, is apparently no longer there—but as Sauced she’s going on the road with some chefs for a four-cities-in-a-week pop-up series with Brandon Baltzley (Buffalo Jump in Falmouth, Massachusetts) and his wife Laura Higgins-Baltzley, Kevin Cuddihee of Two in Chicago, Jonathan Brooks of Milktooth in Indianapolis, and Kyle Paton of The Black Lodge, Niagara, Ontario. The Chicago edition will be September 11, with other cities over the following week; go here for details and tickets.


Phil Vettel has slightly bumpy but generally high-flyin’ praise for the new Steadfast in the Loop: “I spent a lot of time among the medium plates—there are a dozen of them—and they’re the most interesting dishes on the menu. Unexpected proteins include sweetbreads, smoked for enhanced flavor and sweetened with pickled-date puree and a gentle English pea sauce; cider-braised rabbit, served with tiny shrimp-mousse croquettes over rice grits, in a play on classic shrimp and grits; sumac-seasoned mussels in Calvados cream with apples; fideo, served as a fried-angel-hair pancake over garlicky squid and Fresno chilies; and a fine grilled-kale salad with smoked goat cheese, bacon vinaigrette, compressed pears and candied pecans.”


The Sun-Times and ABC7 collaborate on an expose of food trucks violating the city’s rules—and getting away with it! At least that’s the sensationalized sweeps week headline; the story gets more sympathetic to trucks if you actually read it: “‘The rules are so blatantly crazy it would be impossible for a small food-truck business to succeed if it abided by the ordinance,’ said Gabriel Wiesen, the owner of the Beavers Donuts food truck and interim head of the Illinois Food Truck Owners Association.”


A whole review about some fries seems a bit too too, but Michael Nagrant makes a case for SmallFry in Logan Square: “Egan Quinn and Colin Kelahan—two friends who met as freshmen at DePaul University—have concocted their own version of Cool Ranch dust at SmallFry, their gourmet-influenced fast-food joint in Logan Square… The stuff is addictive and even better sprinkled over thrice-fried French fries. (The first low-temp fry cooks the innards to a fluffy consistency, and the second crisps the exterior. The fries rest and starch develops before the final fry, which produces that Belgian-style, mahogany-colored crisp.) Once my order of fries disappeared, I scooped up the last of the Cooler Ranch dust with my fingers and ate it straight.” (Redeye)


You’re Lucky Peach, and you decide to tell the story of a little-known underground dining chef who opens her own restaurant, is embraced by Chicago diners and achieves worldwide recognition. It’s a good interview that’s frank about a lot of stuff about women in kitchens and so on. But then author Peter Meehan asks Elizabeth’s Iliana Regan about “cooking experimental fine dining food in a steakhouse city that likes its chefs white, male, and, when possible, handsome.” Ah, those open-minded New York writers. I actually asked these guys the same question but they were all at Peter Luger’s so I couldn’t get hold of them.

Really, how is this any less backhandedly insulting than a 10 best Female Chefs list? In truth, in every city fairly routine American dining predominates, but Iliana Regan isn’t some token feminist counter to the white male monolith of Chicago dining. She is the face of Chicago dining as much as anyone, who made a name and changed how we think through her own genius—and also, through the fact that plenty of Chicagoans in 2016 don’t look at food like the New York writer with his 1974 stereotype just claimed we do.


Anthony Todd is a big fan of Intro, but its latest news gives him pause: they’re bringing in Columbia University dorm room chef Jonah Reider. (Take that, Saved by the Max!) “As any chef (all of whom in the entire city are currently rolling their eyes, I suspect) will tell you, most of their job is management, logistics, and other skills that come from training and experience, not a stint as a fancy pop-up dilettante. Running a fine dining restaurant which people pay hundreds of dollars to visit isn’t simple, and customers are incredibly demanding.” (Chicagoist)


“It’s not a Chicago steakhouse, but there’s plenty of beef,” declares the headline… the really original headline. At least this New York Times piece about Boeufhaus raises the cliché to counter it: “The ideal meal here, not surprisingly, involves red meat, although both owners say the restaurant is not a steakhouse but a brasserie that is committed to serving outstanding beef dishes.”


Nick Kindelsperger has a piece on restaurants finding new ways of working with farms beyond what we usually think farm to table means, with five local examples (including two you’ve read about at Fooditor, Arbor and Smyth & the Loyalist).


Shia Kapos pays tribute to the former publisher and guiding figure of CS, who passed away this week; so does Chicago magazine (where he was once editor).


A guy who asked for free stuff was a dick to BRGRbelly, one of our favorite burger spots, on Yelp. BRGRbelly gently asked its Facebook followers to… return the favor. The Yelp post has been pulled but BRGRbelly has additional thoughts here.


Giant’s Josh Perlman gets to pick wines in Food and Wine.


Amatrice, the Italian village that originated one of the great pasta dishes, spaghetti all’amatriciana, suffered an earthquake that killed 267. Many Italian restaurants around the world are raising money for earthquake relief aid; Louisa Chu has a list of local participants here.