I said Buzz List would be off this week because I took a road trip with my boys to Dearborn—we saw Star Trek stuff at the Henry Ford Museum, ate middle east food two nights in a row, and brought goodies home from Zingerman’s—but I’m back in time to knock it out, so here goes:


Congrats to Friends of Fooditor Ari Bendersky and Maggie Hennessy on their new podcast, Overserved, which sets out to interview local chefs about their lives and work. (Another familiar name, Ernest Wilkins, is producing.) Three episodes are up so far—Erick Williams of Virtue, John Manion of El Che/La Sirena, and Jennifer Kim of Passerotto—and both of the ones I’ve heard so far are highly interesting, digging deep over the course of an hour into where their food and approach comes from, while Ari and Maggie make an engaging pair of co-hosts. Especially with The Feed on summer hiatus right now, they definitely fill a niche for frank long-form talk with top figures on our cultural scene, and I’m happy to urge you to subscribe and support it.


And hey, it’s been a big couple of weeks for Erick Williams, longtime MK chef who opened his own spot, Virtue, in Hyde Park at the beginning of the year, and not just because of Overserved. Virtue made Eater’s national list of the 16 Best New Restaurants in America: “Virtue’s most potent dish is the cauliflower, its seemingly humble meat-free option. It reveals Williams’s layered approach to cooking, which combines culinary inspiration from the South, Chicago, his fine dining background, his family history, and the world. The braised cauliflower steak is finished on the grill, creating a crisp crust over the vegetable’s fork-tender innards. Williams plates it with cashew dukkah (an Egyptian spice blend) and ‘root cellar vegetables’ presented as giardiniera — the pickle blend Chicagoans enjoy most on Italian beef sandwiches.”

Then Williams was featured in The New York Times in a piece called 16 Black Chefs Changing Food in America: “I don’t know that I decided that restaurants were the path, but the path became clear to me. I find the height of my purpose working with my hands, collaborating with farmers, serving my community.”


Jeff Ruby has a charming framing story for his review of Galit—the kind you only get to tell once—so I won’t spoil it, but I will cut to the part about the food: “The menu covers tons of ground — Iraqi kubba halab, Yemeni pickles, a foie gras au torchon with sour cherry to spread on challah. [Chef Zach] Engel knows when to tweak familiar stuff and when to present dishes in all their simple glory, as in his four hummus options: One mixes trumpet mushrooms and gribenes (chicken cracklings); another cradles cinnamony brisket. But there’s also a straight-up tahini hummus with, to quote the menu, ‘way too much olive oil.’”


Phil Vettel compares the experience at Julia Momose’s and Noah Sandoval’s Kumiko with the downstairs omakase Kikko to see which you must experience: “At Kumiko, the Japan-born Momose focuses the bar program on Japanese spirits; thus, her Old-Fashioned is made with Japanese whiskey, shochu and French Banyuls, and her Sea Flower — which I loved — combines Japanese gin, vermouth and yuzu kosho in a glass rimmed with “ocean dust” (Momose’s blend of nori powder, salt and sugar). She’ll also create three-drink cocktail flights, exploring the nuances of daiquiris and Sazeracs, among others…. Alongside Momose’s alchemy is a list of about a dozen a la carte bites, priced from $3 (for a bit of chicken-liver mousse with fermented kumquat) to $13 (for a uni handroll with smoked-soy glaze and furikake).”

While downstairs, with Chef de Cuisine Mariya Russell: “Russell’s 12-course omakase menu ($130) begins (or began; no doubt things change) with butter-poached scallop with caviar, finger lime and puffed rice. There’s a salmon sashimi here, too, this time brushed with shio koji and topped with Mariya’s togorashi, a crunchy blend of sesame, buckwheat, puffed salmon skin and kalamansi vinegar.” In fact, his praise is pretty consistently high—though in the end, he only gives the combined pair three stars.


I doubt many could name a chef at The Lobby in The Peninsula after Lee Wolen, but Joanne Trestrail encourages checking out Baasim Zafar, there since April, for business lunch at least: “Why should hotel guests have the sophisticated food, well-spaced tables, comfortable chairs, unobtrusive music, flattering lighting and impeccable service all to themselves? Throw in a meal perfect for talking business over and you’ve got something well worth a trip, elevator and all.”


Remember Larry Legend, who offered an alternative perspective in Chicago magazine on Harold’s fried chicken? He’s back to talk the new restaurant The Licking, from someone we’re supposed to have heard of named DJ Khaled. He’s funny: “We went on a Wednesday afternoon and had to wait through what would have been half an episode of Roots before we were finally seated. The wait staff was mostly women who probably hold 100K followers on IG combined. (If you know, you know.) Our waitress, Catrice, seemed knowledgeable of the menu items and made suggestions. I don’t know if they secretly knew I was there to do a review, but a manager came out to check on us. Based simply on his apparel and gold teeth, he could not have been from Chicago. (I’m going with Miami.)”


Mike Sula acknowledges you could kvetch about him reviewing the same food court three times running (at least)—but Politan Row’s lineup is interesting enough that I’m all for it (and pretty much following in his steps, having been twice myself). The subject this time is Mom’s, where chefs Randi Howry and Kelly Ijichi do a take on Japanese comfort food: “[They] hooked up with [Thattu’s Margaret] Pak through the collaborative pop-up series Hungry as F*ck, where they originated the dish that would give birth to Mom’s: deep-fried Spam musubi, a Hawaiian snack of sushi rice and Spam wrapped in nori. It’s just one of Howry and Ijichi’s tributes to what they call Japanese comfort food. But in some ways it’s a full-circle embodiment of yoshoku—a branch of Japanese cuisine that adapts Western dishes—which could arguably be traced back to the mid 19th century. Now characterized by dishes like Okinawa taco rice, kare raisu (curry rice), and omurice (rice omelet), yoshoku was cultural appropriation back when it was cool.”


At the Sun-Times, learn about a new pizza place in Englewood, Beverly, Peace of Pizza, designed to help get [Englewood] kids off the streets and get them work experience: “The goal for Peace of Pizza is not only investing dollars into the community but also investing in people, [owner Tamar] Manasseh said. Peace of Pizza will employ three full-time employees and three teens in internship-like roles. The teens will work in the restaurant for three to six months developing the tools needed to make them marketable in the job market to help them work in other restaurants.” (h/t Tom McGourty for the above corrections)


At NewCity, David Hammond talks to chefs and bartenders about whether all this talk of cannabis on menus is getting anybody high: “Beau Kelly-Fontano at Entente (700 North Sedgwick) tells us his CBD-laced 700 Club is his ‘bestselling spirit-free cocktail and our second bestselling cocktail on the menu.’ The 700 is a beautiful cocktail, opalescent on the bottom three-quarters, deep purple on the top, with cucumber mint lemonade and citrus flavors. Kelly-Fontano says, ‘It feels like a cocktail. A chef was in here the other day enjoying a 700 Club, and I told him, ‘You know, that’s a spirit-free cocktail,’ and he said, ‘No fucking way.’”


Steve Dolinsky offers an introduction to Asian shaved ice treats popping up in Chinatown and elsewhere. He also finds a new jerk chicken spot in Evanston, Good to Go.


That was, I think, the last straight up Portuguese restaurant in Chicago, gone 20 years or more, but Titus Ruscitti is happy to recommend a ton of places to go if you visit Europe’s current hot destination like he did (lots of pictures, too).


Well, we regained Father and Son—the pizza spot in Logan Square decided not to close after all—but we’re losing another venerable spot for hearty food, Red Apple, the famous Polish buffet in Avondale. Honestly I hadn’t been there in a long time, having found better Polish spots, but I give it credit for being a gateway ethnic restaurant for many who moved here, the low low price and the buffet arrangement making it easy to check out Polish food without committing to big plates of mystery meats. A high school friend of mine who’d moved to Providence (he’s a librarian at Brown), and pined there for the hearty Slavic food he grew up on, was thrilled when he learned of it and we gorged ourselves together there a couple of times on his visits many years ago.


I missed this a couple of weeks ago (h/t Cathy Lambrecht) but Dave Hoekstra devoted an hour of his show on WGN Radio to Wanda Kurek, proprietor of quintessential old school Chicago place Stanley’s Tavern in Back of the Yards, who passed away recently at 95.


Eddy Cheung, who owned longtime Chinatown dim sum stalwart Phoenix, and later Jade Court which earned a rare Chinese restaurant review from Phil Vettel, died of a heart attack on June 27, according to his family. The Sun-Times has an obituary here.