Wednesday, Cantina 1910 was a three-month-old restaurant winning raves from critics for the innovative farm-to-table “midwest Mexican” of chef Diana Davila, who was just profiled in the Reader’s People Issue. Thursday, the restaurant named for the Mexican revolution erupted in civil war, as Davila and two of her chefs quit (or so they said; the restaurant has been pretty mum). How did such a promising restaurant blow up so quickly? Some blamed the bad feedback on Yelp that the more upscale approach to Mexican had engendered, and that Mike Sula had reported on— though commenters quickly pushed back, suggesting that Sula himself had caused some of the problem: “‘Smear campaign’? It was a couple of anonymous bad Yelp reviews that YOU twisted into an attack on the neighborhood.”

Our take: the commenters have a little point (Cantina 1910’s Yelp feedback overall wasn’t all that bad, and a lot of it pointed to legitimate service issues which people felt in other places than Yelp). The bad press, aimed more at the neighborhood (or amateur critics) than the restaurant, may have fed some panic in the kitchen—but no restaurant implodes just because of an article about Yelp, either. It seems pretty clear that as good as the food was, Cantina 1910 had service and kitchen issues, probably based on its size, that were real and belonged to both sides. And it’s a real shame that a terrific new restaurant, under development for a very long time, should have come apart so quickly after opening, and that the people involved couldn’t have found a way to work together to fix them. There’s no telling what may come next for either Davila or Cantina 1910, but we’re sorry it happened and glad we got there once, anyway.


Raves for the rare spirits to be had in the Prohibition-era Milk Room, its crazy priciness aside: Anthony Todd calls it “the best bar in Chicago” (to a lot of pushback from Chicagoist’s ever contentious commenters, while Amy Cavanaugh says “It’s hard not to be impressed with a rum made in Cuba before Fidel Castro, when my parents were not even born and my grandfather was in World War II. It’s also hard not to be impressed with how good the drinks are.”


The only comment on the story at Crain’s suggests that people may have a hard time getting it at first, but we’re going to bet that having someone to really look after whales at Swift & Sons may prove a brilliant stroke for customer retention in a steakhouse-heavy world. Or at least go over better than Kevin Boehm’s cell phone booth at Boka.


The vermouth tap may be running but the money tap is dry—acclaimed Spanish cava bar Bom Bolla will close before Christmas. (Eater)


At Bar Marta, Austin Baker has ” brought along with him so many former Hogsalt colleagues you wonder if it constitutes a brain drain back on the mothership,” says Mike Sula, while spinning the emergence of a graduating class from Brendan Sodikoff’s company as a positive sign of its impact. He found food to like, anyway: “this is good drinking food, truly communal, with the exception of a handful of salads. It begins with a dish of olives and spicy-sour dill pickles, starkly different from the treacly preserved vegetable candy most restaurants traffic in these days. Lengths of meaty charred eggplant seasoned with smoky paprika and tarted up with sumac are cooled down with Greek yogurt, tahini, and buttermilk, and accompanied by thick pepita-and-sesame-studded crackers.” (Reader)


Very sorry to read Andrew Huff’s heartfelt explanation of why Gaper’s Block is going away on Jan. 1. Started back in the early days of aggregation as the hot new thing, it proved to be a launchpad for lots of writers, including in the world of food. Thanks to Huff and everyone there for caring about food, and caring about Chicago.