I’ve often read pieces calling Chicago a red meat town. But there’s a paradigm shift in town, a game-changer on the horizon, a shapeshifting changeling trickster releasing baller nuclear warheads of steer-shaped deliciousness over the target zone of a martini-guzzling urbanity like an all-girl band made entirely of steak playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony of Hell Yeah. That’s roving Eater National reviewer Bill Addison’s three-headed-Cerberus-like review of Boeufhaus—”In its low-key snugness, it’s really the anti-steakhouse, a place I would bring friends who relish a righteous steak dinner, but don’t go in for the machismo and pageantry,” Swift & Sons—”a showboat of retro Continental splendor opened last fall by the Boka Restaurant Group in a fitting new seat of power: a building called 1K Fulton, the rehabbed address that now houses Google’s Midwestern headquarters,” and Maple & Ash—”In the center of the space, purple metallic organza floats in gauzy strips like a shredded gown, and a chandelier of beaded lights hangs like a double-stranded string of pearls.” (That was either Maple & Ash, or the revived Twin Peaks, I’m not sure.)

All are hailed in terms as rich and grandiose as a ribeye larded with beurre blanc and truffle shavings under a caviar-foie mousse, which raises the question—what does Addison write when he eats somewhere that’s just not all that exciting? For now, we Chicagoans can only marvel at the white-hot jewels of flavor that issue like puffs of magic dragon smoke from Addison’s Vulcanic writing forge, in which our local steakhouses are haute chameleons manned by supergroups of ace pastry chefs and rockstar mixologists. You’ll never have dinner with the midwest regional sales team the same way again.


Joe Campagna and I will be doing Fooditor Radio live at the Taste of Chicago’s Food For Thought stage this Thursday at 11:30 am, so be there! But will there be anything to eat? Nick Kindelsperger went to the media preview event and thinks the lineup looks pretty decent.


CS Magazine’s annual restaurant issue is out, and though we’re surprised they even let us have a free copy of the fashion glossy, as unfashiony as we are personally, we do seek it out at the dispenser every year. Under main food writer Lisa Shames, they’ve assembled a bunch of ways of looking at the scene, from the 10 Most Exciting Restaurants to 6 Best Desserts to 3 Trends Defining Chicago. You can read it online here, but savor the pleasures of glossy print while you still can.


Good week at Redeye for Americano 2211, first because Michael Nagrant bites into a lot of nostalgia with its ham and gruyere croissant, recalling a favorite college-era treat: “I hadn’t had a croissant like it until I bit into Silver’s version. Visually, hers features a shiny exterior and an airy, bubbled interior. It looks like a food porn prop from some glossy magazine. The pastry flakes on the tongue and dissolves into a salty, nutty finish from the pork and cheese innards.”


And there’s more love for Americano 2211 in Redeye’s “11 Best Artisanal Ice Cream Flavors in Chicago Right Now,” which isn’t totally wide-ranging—there’s an awful lot of Bar Siena/Siena Tavern on the list—but at least is savvy enough to put Nancy Silver’s ice cream from Americano 2211 on there… twice.


Though identifying the first fancy restaurant to stake out the Randolph Street district is a matter of personal taste, Vivo ranks as one of the earliest, opening in 1991, so let’s salute this early KDK (Jerry Kleiner & associates) concept on its closing after 25 years last Sunday. The replacement will be a concept called Nosh & Booze from the people who have Bucktown’s (decent but generic) AMK Kitchen Bar, and that seems to be the direction the street is going from those pioneering days. (Tribune)


Mike Sula raves that Leña Brava brings the fire: “Leña Brava is the chef’s love letter to the seafood-dominant riches of Baja, with its inherent Mediterranean and Asian influences, cooked in the crucible of three wood-burning fires at the back of a busy, clamorous room. The alluring aromas of the ‘ferocious wood,’ as the name translates, permeate the restaurant, particularly the second-floor bar, and even the restrooms, where you might feel as if you’ve wandered among the fading embers of a forest fire.” In the words of Woody Allen in Love and Death, “Oh great, just what I need, hot cockles.”

10-4 ON 554

Louisa Chu has a fun short piece on a drunk food classic—the 554, so named because of its position on the old menu at Seven Treasures in Chinatown. (Tribune)


There are women in food and drink! Eater has a piece on Iliana Regan’s empire building… which to be strictly honest, presently has one restaurant (after briefly jumping to two with Bunny), but Kitsune is coming soon. And Eater also has a nice profile of GreenRiver’s cocktail whiz Julia Momose, and how she makes drinks in a man’s world, baby!


Burger lists are the most perennial of all endless lists, but here’s a cool one with a different approach: the most important burgers in Chicago history. Forget Mickey D’s, get to know Top Notch, Hackney’s and even Henry’s. (Thrillist)


Vegan cafe Upton’s Breakroom has this idea that you can fake pulled pork with jackfruit. Chicago mag has the story.


I went back to Monteverde for the first time since December, and still loved the carefully crafted pastas, as well as the giant shared ribeye (well, the kids wanted it) and the “forgotten” cookies.

And I tried Sanukiseimen, the udon noodle shop at Mitsuwa market in Arlington Heights. I liked the really thick,made-in-house noodles, but wasn’t wild about the five spice-scented broth. Some decent tempura choices at the tempura bar, though I was disappointed to pick up one labeled onion and it wasn’t the great onion fish cake thing I had in Kyoto, but just a whole slice of onion fried.