The menu at Rick Bayless’s Leña Brava is divided into Fire and Ice, and Michael Nagrant likes both: “The Ice section absolutely sings. Sustainably sourced yellowtail, albacore tuna and less familiar fish like opah runneth over cups and plates… Those seductive fires in the kitchen are also responsible for some serious eats. None may be better than flaky blackened cod al pastor ($26), gleaming with a rusty orange achiote, red chili and pineapple rub. It’s topped with pineapple salsa that’s studded with bits of citrusy shiso leaf. House-griddled tortillas made from freshly ground heirloom corn masa made especially for Leña Brava are served on the side. I’d venture to say it’s the best fish taco in Chicago right now.” (Redeye)


Faux Wisconsinite Millie’s Supper Club “absolutely nailed the look; walking through the entrance is like stepping into a Northwoods cabin. Booths and chairs are covered in tufted red leather; walls are clad in tongue-and-groove boards; animal heads and stuffed animals are scattered about the room,” says Phil Vettel. It’s just the food—”Kitsch-heavy restaurants are fun, but they’re the kinds of places you visit once, or maybe once in a great while. The challenge facing Millie’s Supper Club is to give its customers compelling reasons to return more often, and I don’t think merely copying supper-club cuisine, however precisely, will get it done.” (Tribune)


The World’s 50 Best list just came out, naming some other place you’ll never get into the best in the world (Osteria Francescana in Modena), and Eater National is hung up on the idea that it’s all men picking these places (and picking restaurants run by men). As if there wouldn’t still be lots of things kind of questionable about this exercise if it was more gender-balanced, like… Alinea climbing to #15, which we have to say is especially impressive for a restaurant that was closed for most of the last six months. It’s the second highest-ranked restaurant in the U.S. and the only Chicago entry, though it’s pretty obvious that this list is very much a lagging indicator—Grace hasn’t even made it to the back 50 yet.


I’d have liked a full-fledged review of where Grace is now, but Jeff Ruby mainly looks at the service in upgrading it to four stars (he gave it 3-1/2 a few years ago): “During a recent visit, partner and general manager Michael Muser treated every guest warmly, staffers seamlessly choreographed the meal, and irresistible tales of vineyards and personalities accompanied each of sommelier Valerie Cao’s inspired wine pairings.”


What Chicago restaurant is the latest to get a New York Times writeup—Oriole? Monteverde? How about… Uncle Mike’s Place? Kevin Pang (who wrote a profile of it for the Trib in 2010) profiles the Filipino offerings at the Polish owned (who knew?) diner.


DNAInfo reports the passing of Kasia Bober, a Polish immigrant who founded the Kasia’s Pierogies empire out of Ukrainian Village—visit her shop to see her posed with Bush I and Lech Walesa. Who knew that Uncle Mike’s was Polish? She did: “Christopher Bober said that the day before his mother died was an ordinary day. Kasia Bober went to Uncle Mike’s [Place] on Grand Avenue for breakfast like she always did, eating the same thing she had for the past 25 years: a cup of oatmeal and two eggs over-easy.”


Last week we had Sarah Freeman talking up revitalized dive bars and this week Lauren Knight talks about visiting Loop Liquors, which is every bit as fancy as it sounds. The best, or at least most Pizzle-worthy, moment: “The gender imbalance was a concern for at least one guy. After letting loose a fart so rank that he felt compelled to buy us ladies beers to make up for it, the man chatted about the lack of women. “I keep telling them to keep the bathroom clean,” he explained.”


Not sure what prompted the Tribune, which tends to ignore other media, to let WGN’s Rick Kogan pay tribute to Steve Dolinsky (well, I guess he occasionally contributes to the Tribune too). A nice piece that covers the basics, though of course it can’t get by without one get-off-my-lawn moment of slagging on bloggers (Dolinsky, of course, has a blog too). Nice to hear from you, 2005!


I’ve passed by that tango club/restaurant/event space on Ravenswood a zillion times without ever checking it out, but didn’t know they’d opened a more official restaurant in Lincoln Square until Mike Sula reviewed them… and didn’t think much: “Certain aspects of the presentation at Artango can give the impression that not a lot of attention is being paid to the food by either the front or the back of the house. Ravioli filled with kale and ricotta on one occasion had a leathery texture that indicated they’d been sitting around too long on the pass. A salad of roasted vegetables was draped with a cold, congealed slab of melted cheese. A sampler of grilled meats featured short ribs overbraised to a gelatinous consistency, broken morcilla crumbling across the board, and grilled flank steak betraying no sign of seasoning, the bright spot being the chorizo, which had a welcome chile sting. An overcooked duck breast, marinated in annatto and aji mirasol chiles, is piled atop a mountain of mashed potatoes—a plating straight out of 1998. A lifeless watermelon-cucumber gazpacho special just seems childish this time of year.”


We though Time Out Chicago was out of the reviewing business entirely, but Elizabeth Atkinson is back after two months with a review of Imperial Lamian that’s hit or miss: “The crispy pork belly in the ‘BBQ’ section is perfectly tender, but doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the menu with its slithering squeeze of generic yellow mustard on top (and rest assured, I do love a good mustard). The siew mai dumpling is perfectly okay, but I’d rather buy better dumplings cheaper elsewhere.”


Meet David and Anna Posey’s chef-spoiled dog Bazooka. Awwww. (Chicago)


Everything I had at Kimski was tasty as heck, it’s just a short list, I want them to explore this Polish-Korean fusion thing as far as it will go. For now, be sure to have the sausage and the pierogi like things (which you probably will, they’re the first two things on the menu).

After a really nice meal at Ceviche, I’ve had my interest in South American roused from slumber, but a pepitas (sandwich) at Venezuelan Bowl was a tasty but gloppy mess, would have been better after too many beers. Better was dinner at Bienmesabe, and the stuffed arepas there are happily scarfable; the rest of the menu is fine but proves that South American food is too often a very short list of variations on beef, rice and black beans. I’ll give it points for the rare patio on a street that isn’t too busy (Montrose), though, so enjoy it for that now.