Mike Sula talks to Wilson Bauer about turning everything into worm food and poop at Flour Power:

For more than a year, Flour Power has produced almost no food waste. It all gets tossed into two large Amazon courier totes Bauer stores just to the right of his toilet. To this he adds pulverized egg shells; weathered and shredded, untreated cardboard boxes; and paper flour sacks left to soak in the rain in the alley behind the restaurant. Occasionally he adds amendments from his neighbors’ dumpsters: coffee grounds from Standing Passengers and spent brewers’ grains from Forbidden Root.

Bauer opened Flour Power in the summer of 2020, but the restaurant closed the following year for a mid-pandemic break and reset. He used his time off to go fishing and teach himself to grow cannabis again. And he developed a preoccupation with healthy, living soil. He saw parallels between his old, unhealthy plants and the diseases and general weakening that afflict humans as they age.


Lisa Shames talks to chefs doing collaborations with Marisol, the restaurant in the MCA from Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe):

“The idea for this was to collaborate with and support our industry friends and spotlight their restaurants,” says Hammel. “It also challenges us here to do dishes we normally wouldn’t do.”

Take the program’s first offering: a Kerala spicy fried chicken sandwich. Created by Margaret Pak of Avondale’s recently opened Thattu, the sandwich has its origins in the chicken bites Pak and her partner and husband Vinod Kalathil offered at their first restaurant in the now-closed Politan Row.

…“These are all the spices that Vinod’s mom would use,” says Pak, referencing her husband’s South Indian family. “It represents the combination of our Kerala roots and tells the story of Thattu then and now.”


John Kessler still gets grief as the author of that piece, but a thoughtful piece on that TV show suggests an author who’s found what he likes about our food scene reflected in The Bear:

As [chef de cuisine Sydney] rides the CTA back to the restaurant site, a montage of the geometric forms of buildings and windows begins to juxtapose with images of the pasta dish she’s been working on. The city of Chicago itself — its bold forms, blue skies, insistently clattering L — are what will eventually inform her growth as a chef (not to mention her plating). Alas, the pasta she prepares at the end of the episode is still too salty: she’s still too unformed as a chef, too beholden to recipes she doesn’t yet own. But we will see it come together for her in a later episode when she prepares a French rolled omelette for Natalie. Classically, this kind of omelette is considered the first major tests for cooks, but Sydney takes it a step further with the addition of crushed sour cream and onion potato chips. This is her finding self-expression:  the formal technique and the packaged comfort food, the reaching for the stars in a city where that’s possible, and the pang of emotional connection to a flavor, however modest. The Bear understands just how Chicago is a crucible for this kind of cooking.


Amy Cavanugh talks about the new Daisies, and its usefulness as a daytime working space:

Yes, that’s right: The Logan Square Midwest-Italian restaurant has become the best coworking space in town. Consider that, in addition to its pasta-focused dinner, it’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for pastries and coffee, has free Wi-Fi and plenty of electrical plugs, serves draft oat milk lattes, and sets out bottles of water on the bar. But the biggest draw: the exceptional offerings from Leigh Omilinsky, who joined Daisies in December as an executive pastry chef and partner. Her daytime menu includes ham and cheese croissants and kouign-amanns, as well as specials like a strawberry Danish with pepitas or a pretzel croissant with beer cheese and bacon.


That Grand Avenue around Noble Square is a good place to get an Italian sub is no surprise—I trust you’ve heard of Bari or D’Amato’s. There are also new places like Tempesta Market and Publican Quality Bread, and so Nick Kindelsperger takes a stroll to see what all is along there. Why is it such a sandwich-rich environment? That he doesn’t really have an explanation for, except to note that it’s long been an Italian strip:

Turns out, Grand Avenue has been the place for Italian subs since at least the 1970s. If anything, the stretch might have had more sandwich stops in the past. My 1977 copy of “The New Good (But Cheap) Chicago Restaurant Book” by Jill Nathanson Rohde and Ron Rohde only recommended eight sub shops in the whole city, and three were on Grand Avenue: Grand Daddy Sandwich Shop (1324 W. Grand Ave.), Mario’s (1629 W. Grand Ave.) and Millie’s Sugar Bowl (1473 W. Grand Ave.). While those three have since closed, Grand Avenue remains the epicenter of Chicago’s Italian sub scene.

I think somebody wrote a paean to Grand Daddy in the Trib Sunday magazine some years ago, when it had a definite “we don’t want nobody not from the neighborhood” vibe.


Ashok Selvam wrestles with Pequod’s being an influence on fine dining in The Bear:

The surprise came as the show made a trip to the city’s gold standard for deep dish, Pequod’s Pizza in Lincoln Park. Nope, I’m not going into the logistics of traffic, and how Richard “Richie” Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) — the former operator of the Original Beef of Chicagoland — making a quick trip to Pequod’s would only make sense if Ever possessed a teleporter, or the character used some mode of video game-fast travel mechanic (I feel the same way about Wayne’s World when Wayne and Garth are at the Interstate 90/94 junction in Chicago, and seconds later arrive in two-hours-away Milwaukee).

Richie brings back a deep-dish pizza from Pequod’s and places it in the care of Ever’s chef. He does this to appease a table of tourists who don’t have time to taste the famous Chicago dish. Then, without warning, the kitchen nightmare starts. The chef holds up a cookie cutter and the carnage ensues.

I could make this even more Chicago by arguing that Pequod’s is pan pizza, not deep dish, but we’ll let it go.


One thing I tried to do when I went to Japan half a dozen years ago was figure out what Japanese people eat for breakfast. All I found was a place that did American breakfast Japanese style—e.g., milk bread toast. (It was fantastic.) Anyway, the answer now might be at Miru in the St. Regis, says Steve Dolinsky:

“Traditional Japanese breakfast is white rice, pickles, miso soup, and cooked – usually – salmon, and salmon egg,” said Hisanobu Osaka, the chef at Miru.

The salmon filet is broiled for just a minute.

“We are using a New Zealand King salmon, and we brine it overnight,” said Osaka.

A few of the city’s middle eastern restaurants have actually been Iraqi-owned, but for whatever reason they’ve tended not to advertise the fact (even though other nationalities associated with, let’s say, current events, feel no need to sweep being Afghan under the rug). But Spice and Fire Grill in Morton Grove offers traditional Iraqi dishes:

There’s a lot of overlap with the more popular Lebanese and Jordanian menus in town, but there are a few dishes unique in the Iraqi kitchen.

“We have a traditional way of cooking the food, so when you come here, you expect the best,” said Aws Bahjat, whose family owns the restaurant. “For example, with the falafel, we use amba sauce, we don’t use the tahini sauce which is the white sauce.”


Its still summer, so there’s still time to utilize the newest chapter of Titus Ruscitti’s ongoing survey of small town burgers, focused on the area near St. Louis:

We drove over the Mississippi River from St. Louis into Fairview Heights Illinois: home of the Fairview Inn, a dive bar known for it’s burger. Fresh balls of beef are smashed on a tiny four wheel flattop behind the bar. Pictured below is a double that almost melts in your mouth due to the softness of the beef and the bun. A real deal contender that’s relatively unknown outside of the area. Both the bar and the cheeseburger reminded me some of Green Gables in Hudson which served one of the best burgers in the state before burning down in a fire. Hopefully this place doesn’t meet the same fate.

He also found some annoyances at Big Star Mariscos:

We first visited over the weekend around 2p and we couldn’t order half of the seafood options bc they were only serving the brunch menu. A brunch menu consisting mostly of stuff that wasn’t seafood. Items like breakfast tacos and what not. It was pretty annoying when you consider that mariscos is more commonly lunch in Mexico in large part bc you eat it when you’re at the beach and what not. Basically we went there with intent to try two of the more interesting seafood options and were told we had to come back after 3p for either of them. We did so in part bc we had our minds set on some grilled shrimp and Pescado Zarandeado but it’s a bit of a head scratcher that they don’t do seafood for lunch on the weekend unless you just want tacos or some ceviche.


Michael Nagrant went to Jonathan Zaragoza’s Calli in Soho House:

Zaragoza is going deep here, cooking some pre-Columbian stuff, aka Mexican cuisine that existed long before Spanish expeditions adulterated traditional Mexican foodways with European ingredients.

Chochoyotes for example, dimpled masa dumplings dripping in confit red sauce bump up against summer tomatoes peeled of their bitter skins. They teem like turgid water balloons, bursting with briny sweetness when breached.  Roofed with shaved parm and tangy jocoque (fermented milk) acidity, it’s a serious line in the sand that the best pasta isn’t from Italy, but Mexico.

He comes out quoting LL Cool J, I’ve now got Petula Clark in my head. Debbie Harry could not be reached for comment.


Meanwhile, when not eating subs, Nick Kindelsperger answers reader mail after his recent hot dog exploration.


David Hammond explores creativity in non-alcoholic cocktails:

Atelier is going all in on spirit-free beverages, and they offer a no-alcohol beverage pairing with their regular tasting menu. We were knocked out by the complexity and thoughtfulness behind the drinks. We asked owner and general manager Tim Lacey what considerations he takes into account when developing a spirit-free cocktail. “There are two approaches I take: first, I try to construct a drink with depth of flavor and complexity by looking for combinations that aren’t obvious,” he says. “I want something different, and second, I find good ingredients and get the hell out of their way. Now that things are coming into season, I tend to go this route more often. I’ll get good produce and do as little as possible to it to let the ingredient speak for itself.”


But what about the Malibu Barbie Cafe, Fooditor? you ask. Alas, I’m pretty sure that’s not something I’ll be reviewing, but Axios sent someone to check it out; get all your Barbie Cafe news here.


To Friend of Fooditor Ji Suk Yi, who will be hosting a new afternoon show on WGN TV with Sarah Jindra, Spotlight Chicago.


Didn’t see this coming, but then, chef/owner Bo Fowler (BiXi Beer) didn’t see her health problems coming: she’s closing Owen and Engine, the very solid English-themed bar where I’ve gone more than once when a beer seemed more appealing than whatever movie I was enduring at City North across the street. Eater:

Fowler, a Korean immigrant raised in Minnesota, reiterates that this was a ”deeply personal decision.” In the wake of her heart attack, the soon-to-be 55-year-old was ordered by her doctors to roll back hours, but she continued to bounce between Owen & Engine and her second restaurant, Bixi Beer, also in Logan Square. She says she was working 80- to 100-hour work weeks. Her commitment to her restaurants caused her to miss family events. Bixi has picked up business and Fowler says private events have stabilized the restaurant. But the strains on her family and personal lives meant something needed to change. She had to pick between Owen & Engine and Bixi.


I leave for five days and David Manilow’s The Dining Table seemingly puts out a dozen really interesting episodes, including talking with Ryan O’Donnell, who has some city places (Gemini) but is really trying to liven up the suburbs; the Mexican restaurant family teaming up with Carlos Gaytan to open UMMO; and Oliver Poilevey, second-generation French restaurant owner (Le Bouchon, Obelix).


Friend of Fooditor and former maker of subs on Grand Avenue Darin Latimer has a new art show, Death On Wheel, at Elephant Room Gallery, 3203 S. Halsted. Here’s a quick look at the show on Facebook by one Tamara Wasserman (click the link for images as well):

The trend nowadays is clean gallery walls sparsely touched by artwork. That does not happen when you walk into Darin Latimer’s DEATH ON WHEEL show. The display lets the intensity come through. And Darin’s work is indeed intense. You really have to spend time in the gallery to let this intensity affect you. And you will stay since there are 75 paintings on the walls. You spend time deciphering the meaning, the intent, the trip, the references. These are many. And gradually you enter Darin’s universe through the rhythm, the repetition, the complexity of the paintings.
Intelligent and raw. Good stuff.


My wife has a meeting to plan for a legal organization she will be president of next year, and so we went to Toronto to eat and ensure that any planned dinner was of Fooditor-level quality. (Special thanks to Toronto-based Friend of Fooditor Renee Suen for some suggestions.)

The best meal we had was at Canoe, at the top of the TD Bank building with the inevitable CN Tower view. My expectations for the restaurant at the top of a bank building were “good but conservative,” and the space is mostly that (apart from some rustic touches themed to the name), but it was a beautifully-crafted seasonal menu (lots of peas and morels and a strawberry dessert, because that’s what time of year it is) that course after course popped with gorgeous flavor. Also using a CN Tower/skyline view as a selling point was Writers Room Bar, which had nice cocktails and fairly interesting, if sometimes silly (foie gras doughnut) bar snacks. It turned out to be the second night in a row in which we got chicken served with lettuce to wrap it in; anyway, it’s atop a Park Hyatt, though I was disappointed that the caricatures of Canadian writers as you walk in (Margaret Atwood, Mordechai Richler, etc.) did not include Robertson Davies, easily the Canadian writer most born to be caricatured (he looks like an Al Hirschfeld self-portrait).

The reason we had had chicken in lettuce wraps the night before was that we went to Lao Lao Bar (no CN Tower view), a funky more-upscale-than-the-usual-neighborhood Thai restaurant (yes, I know Laos is a different country, but unless you’re Keng Sisavath your references for the food will all be Thai food you’ve eaten around town). It was one of the best meals from that part of the world I’ve had in a long time, standouts including Isaan sausage and char-grilled chicken (plus lettuce) served with a side of papaya salad chopped thicker than usual, which somehow made it juicier and more interesting. Finally, we went to another venerable upscale restaurant called George, which felt more like a place you’d find in, indeed, Georgetown than the ones with CN Tower views. It had the air of a place that has been well loved by its immediate neighbors for many years, but I did not feel the courses were as well defined as at Canoe, they sort of looked alike and were similar in texture, one after the other (and the three of us there each got a different dish for every course, increasing their likelihood of blurring together).

We also scouted out possible tours for attendees (or their spouses); we only drove through places like Chinatown (revitalized compared to my last visit about a decade ago, though often with things beside Chinese), but we did get a tour of the St. Lawrence Market, which is the kind of greatest hits-of-Toronto food hall that Time Out Market aspires to be; getting a peameal bacon (Canadian bacon) sandwich and a butter tart, two things which fairly screamed “we’ve made ten million of these, it will be exactly what you expect, and perfect,” was a definite highlight. We also toured the old Distillery District, and tried some excellent Canadian sake at Izumi and some interesting chocolate, including Mayan-style spicy drinking chocolate, at SOMA.

If you want to see pics, check out my Instagram posts— this one has most of the restaurants, this one is other touristy sites, and this one finishes up with the St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District.