Do you think Phil Vettel liked the new Alinea? How many times has he given Grant Achatz and Co. four stars, though it must be admitted that his last two reviews for that group (Roister and Next: South America) were three star affairs. Anyway, he’s an inner child in a candy store doing the Gallery experience, the same one written about here at Fooditor: “Icefish, a Japanese delicacy with a ridiculously short season, served in a deep-fried tangle over super-tart fermented kumquat sauce, a bold little pride-in-purveyance bite. Brittle-as-glass blueberry leaves, hiding a cache of seasonal mushrooms (digging through the leaves provides the sense of foraging) and foie-gras sauce. Tiny onion sandwiches, hidden within purple allium. Lamb loin, with blackberry and black garlic in a presentation that was so straightforward that I kept waiting for it to levitate.” (Tribune)


Honey’s is “a curious name more fitting of a gentleman’s club or truck stop diner than the restaurant I recently visited,” says Michael Nagrant in Redeye. “I guess I’m hung up on the name because it’s just about the only detail this smart group of dudes overlooked… but the food quality is so high that it feels like an a la carte version of a prix fixe dining temple. Ultimately, Honey’s is one of the better new restaurants to open in Chicago this year.”


More press for the irrepressible Iliana Regan of Elizabeth. In Food and Wine she offers her guide to her favorite night-off spots in Chicago. There’s a much more serious piece at Madfeed, where she talks about kitchen culture and her own approach to training people—which leaves no doubt she’s a tough cookie, if you hadn’t figured that out yet: “When conflicts arise and shit gets blown up I let the pieces fall and see what happens. I don’t waste much time. When there is a common denominator it’s clear who is the rabble-rouser. More than being a family, we are a wolf pack. When someone doesn’t work for the good of the pack, we kick them out.”


Aimee Levitt attributes magical powers to Beacon Tavern, the newest place from Billy Lawless’s group: “I don’t mean to imply that the chef, Bob Broskey (formerly of L20 and Intro), uses illegal substances in his kitchen. He does really like butter, though, and this dish is proof that lots of butter does indeed make everything better. Here it’s lightly perfumed with curry and lime and poured over a plate of tender, chewy noodles and generous chunks of lobster knuckle and tail that still taste like the ocean…. ‘It’s magical!’ my friend said, with full-hearted conviction.” (Reader)


Vettel seems just fine with Ocean Cut, the revamped C Chicago under Dirk Flanigan, giving it two stars: “Flanigan augments the basics with a few nifty, chef-y dishes. Pork belly and snails is an intriguing surf-and-turf; the crisped-on-top pork belly (just fatty enough in the middle) is topped with three rice-flour fried, basil-marinated snails, accompanied by a creamy goat-cheese vinaigrette. Flanigan places seared scallops on truffle-braised endive, surrounded by a foamed spring-pea broth; a beautiful dish of squid tagliolini matches a tangle of jet-black pasta to thinly sliced octopus, basil and fried garlic in a lightly briny tomato sauce.”


Here’s a fun piece of the sort we ought to see more of, at Zagat—a look at which restaurants have lived up to their promise and which haven’t. Though if anything I think it’s too soft on a few big openings which have at least had very mixed receptions (for me, one that rhymes with Shrimp-aerial Damian). Check out the list and see if there’s anything you’d move to the other category. (Zagat)


L’Patron loses its original location and moves west. My prediction: the new place it moves to will never be as busy, the new joint that moves into the old location won’t be either. Analogue lost its chef and manager, now it’s closed. Maybe deliberately NOT having a sign wasn’t the greatest approach for what started as a dance club before it became a really good Cajun restaurant. La Luce closed, and it’s hard to believe the West Loop Italian joint only dated back to the 80s, because it felt like 1953, which wasn’t entirely a good thing. And Authentaco closed, which I guess is too bad, but that cool 30s hamburger stand building is going to be a hamburger stand now, name still pending to judge by the paper sign in the window, which at least is a triumph of the obvious—plus they recycled the old neon sign that says Hamburgers-Chili from Rogers Park’s Dewey’s chili parlor. One out of four is something.


Time Out Chicago’s reviews get further and further between, but you can’t say they didn’t pick a place of the moment to review this month in Roister: “The menu is also cheaper than what you’d find at other Alinea Group spots—and with a lunch service on the way, it will be a great way to try out dishes on par with a three-star Michelin experience without breaking the bank. But it isn’t ‘bar food;’ you’re still getting high-quality offerings that are remarkably delicious, beautifully plated and thoughtful takes on dishes you wouldn’t expect.”


Fie upon the places who rushed out Pokemon Go specials (see here in the Tribune) to be trendy with the kids. Here’s our list of places that will never, ever have a Pokemon Go special: Vera. Gene & Georgetti’s. Smak Tak. Jim’s Original. Schaller’s Pump. Burt’s Pizza. Charlie Trotter’s. Le Perroquet. Try one of them soon!


In a quick interview at Crain’s, Nick Kokonas reveals that there’s no danger of him getting addicted to Elvis’ peanut butter and banana sandwiches.


Phil Tadros responds to Crain’s much-talked-about piece last week (the comments section of which continues to be a crazy hobo fight). And if anything could make you sympathetic to him, it’s the whiny Gold Coasters in this DNAInfo article.


Okay, this has a very tenuous relation to Chicago food—the former Albany Park police station that is now Arun’s Taste of Thai Town figures in it briefly—but be sure to check out Rolling Stone’s story solving the mystery of the unlucky guy who inspired one of Elvis’s greatest songs, Heartbreak Hotel. 


I went to Saigon Bistro, in the same strip mall as Gogi Korean BBQ, and thought the big messy crawfish fry there was way better, so much better there’s no comparison, than the mob scenes everybody loves at The Angry Crab, where everything tastes exactly the same after being cooked together in the same spices.

And after tromping all over Palmisano Park, I checked out a little Asian cafe called J Smile 51 in Bridgeport. Korean tacos were not good, weird cheap processed meat and too sweet sauce, but the funky waffle maker they have made cool bubble-wrap-shaped waffles that fed the kids a treat just fine.