So you’ll notice that Buzz List looks different this week—we’re in the process of making some changes to the site based on what features people really used. Buzz List will have a cleaner look (not quite finished, if it doesn’t quite line up on your browser yet), with no more arrows. It’ll also work on mobile, finally! A few other changes including top-level navigation taking you to Fooditor Guides, while of course the best guide of all is The Fooditor 99, just $5.99 at Amazon/$1.99 on Kindle.


The Trib does short reviews of six relatively new—well, 2016—spots, and it’s a good feature that they should make a regular one, given the pace at which things open here these days. Louisa Chu praises the comfort food at 3 Arts Club Cafe, saying “it’s the truffled grilled cheese ($16) with whom you’re destined to have an intense affair”; Joseph Hernandez says at Animale, “at any given time on the seasonal menu, you’ll find such items as sweetbreads, tripe and oxtail next to a smattering of pastas and sandwiches—a pleasant surprise for such a low-key spot.” Nick Kindelsperger finds Arbella promising if pricy: “Much of the food is precisely executed. Grilled octopus, served with roasted fingerling potatoes, spicy pesto and green olive chimichurri ($15), is tender and smoky instead of tough and chewy. The cha gio ($11), a kind of Vietnamese egg roll, features a crackly crust filled to the brim with pork and shrimp.”

Chu hits Ballaro in Highwood (as featured in this Fooditor piece), and says “don’t expect strictly traditional dishes—many have a modern touch. Yes, there is pizza, but with a crunchier crust than classic Naples-style, hovering somewhere between Neapolitan and Chicago cracker crust.” Phil Vettel gives Billy Lawless’s Beacon Tavern the highest praise imaginable: “Surely the finest restaurant ever carved from a former McDonald’s.” And Kindelsperger has similar high praise for modest things at Dixie: “Is there a better biscuit in all of Chicago? The buttermilk biscuits ($7) are at once flaky, crisp and light. Whole restaurant empires have been built on less.” (Tribune)


Anthony Todd asks the question—if you’re anti-Trump, should you fault Sixteen, the restaurant of the Trump Hotel, for being a Trump restaurant? (Though he talks about whether he should spend his own money there, when in fact it’s hard for a Chicago food writer to ever spend money there—they are very liberal, so to speak, with the dinner invites, which I have enjoyed on several occasions—most notably before this piece. )

Anyway, Todd asks: “I also wonder if, as a food writer, it’s unprofessional to boycott a restaurant because of its corporate parent’s political views. I also wonder if skipping anything related to Trump is even productive, in this time when our new president is also a brand and a business. Will I stop watching NBC (and MSNBC) because they are writing Trump checks to produce The Apprentice?”

It’s an interesting piece that, sensibly, doesn’t come to any clear answer for food writers, who will find it hard to just write off any consideration at all of a restaurant of Sixteen’s caliber and Michelin star. I suspect all Trump-related businesses will see some of their customers depart, but at some point, being the restaurant of the sitting and powerful president may prove attractive to another audience. Business is business, especially in Chicago.


Michael Nagrant is pleasantly surprised by the reconfigured Sink | Swim: “What I didn’t expect was top-notch ceviche, a blend of silky avocado and luscious diced mahi mahi dripping with lime and jalapeno and mixed with a satisfying crunch factory courtesy of diced apple, fennel and fried pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The pepitas added a buttery, smoky crunch I’ve never experienced in a ceviche before.”


There are too many chicken wings out there for an exhaustive survey, but Jeff Ruby makes a wide-ranging and thoughtful one for Chicago mag: “Some might consider breading a chicken wing cheating. That’s like saying Babe Ruth cheated during the dead-ball era by hitting home runs. All I know is the Fifty/50’s plump, hormone-free chicken stays moist after a dip in peanut oil, and the result is something approximating model finger food: meaty, comforting, and impossible to put down. It’s the wing lover’s Platonic ideal.”


Why you have to read the full story sometimes: from Twitter I thought Marcus Lemonis had bought out Bow Truss from the embattled lead owner, Phil Tadros, and Eater headlined their story “‘The Profit’s’ Marcus Lemonis Just Bought Bow Truss Coffee: The chain changes hands after months of Tadros’ damage control.” But per Crain’s, that’s not quite so: “Tadros and a small pool of investors will retain a ‘very small, small percentage of equity,’ said Lemonis, who has already moved a team of his own into the business. Tadros, who also co-owns digital agency Doejo, a brewery called Aquanaut and other concerns, said in an email, simply, ‘Great partner.’”


Maybe there’s hope for food trucks after the court decision against them last week after all: Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, who earlier led the effort to repeal the rule that Chicago politicians could only have Irish names in quotes in their names, is pushing an ordinance which would allow them to park for six hours in one spot (versus the two they’re supposedly limited to now, and use various tricks to get around). (Sun-Times)

Meanwhile, a piece at the HuffPo takes on the Sun-Times and ABC 7 for what they claim to be unfairness and inaccuracy in the coverage that brought heat down on food trucks recently.


Chicago chef Bruno Abate of Tocco is using pizza-making to help rehabilitate convicts in this Munchies story by Sarah Freeman: “Each day has a set menu—always pizza, usually also pasta, as well as a soup or side and dessert. Students are given tasks, whether it is smashing bulbs of garlic, simmering stock, or kneading dough. Those who have been in the program longer take the new students under their wing (the program recently lost its best pizza dough maker, so others are being groomed to take his place). No one, not even Abate, knows how long each student’s education will last. All it takes is a court date to send them down to Statesville or issue their release.”


Congrats to Jason Vincent, named best chef of the year (with only passing reference to his co-chef Ben Lustbader, alas) by Thrillist.


Crain’s publishes fond memories of the Cape Cod Room from Chicagoans.


Chicago mag says I’m “respected,” check it out Ma! And at Chicagoist, Anthony Todd writes: “Let’s be real for a second: most guidebooks suck, especially when it comes to restaurants. Either they’re not written for locals (and therefore contain lots of useless stuff you already know), they are wildly out of date because they are only slightly updated from year to year, or they pander to the lowest common restaurant denominator and insist that everyone run to Grand Lux Cafe. Thank goodness for The Fooditor 99, the new Chicago restaurant guidebook from food writer Michael Gebert.”


I had birthday lunch with friends at Sepia, and family birthday dinner at Osteria Langhe, both as good as ever. But you know about them—I also hit Publican Anker last week with Friend of Fooditor KennyZ, and at the risk of stating the obvious… anything with Publican in its name is going to be good, we know that. Enjoyed some very good cumin-tinged beets and grilled cucumbers with zhoug, but the standout was a bowl of swordfish sausage, clams, beans and grilled romaine, where the most humble ingredients might have been the tastiest things thanks to the flavors (porky and seafoody) they picked up from the other things in the bowl. I’m dreaming of it now.