Congratulations to Ariel Cheung, who joined the Tribune after stints with the late DNAInfo and as a reviewer for CS magazine, among many other freelance gigs, on being named Tribune food editor, to succeed Joe Gray. As her own tweet to that effect reveals, her department now primarily consists of Louisa Chu, Nick Kindelsperger, Adam Lukach and Josh Noel, down from the recent high of seven writers it had when it staffed up a bit a couple of years ago and Phil Vettel and Joseph Hernandez were there. The best congratulatory comment came from Lukach:

congratulations also to my new editor, who will have the privilege of supervising me, a perfect employee


Speaking of editing the food section of the Tribune—a subject on which many of us are experts—on the Chewing podcast this week, Monica Eng raises the question of a food section without a lead restaurant reviewer covering the high end beat. Louisa Chu advances the idea that maybe such a role is no longer needed, but maybe because the question was just sprung on her she doesn’t really formulate a full argument. Which I could certainly see making (and could see myself having made circa 2005): that the Trib has shifted from covering a few, elite restaurants at a price point relatively few can afford to more fully representing the diversity of the city’s restaurant scene. And I could also see the counterargument—that covering the elitist high points of any art form is a duty of a daily paper and an important public service to the ongoing evolution of that art. It’s a good idea for discussion, and I would urge Chewing to return to this subject with a more fully-thought-through debate—and maybe bring in some other experts.


There’s a lot of black history month food coverage at the Trib—which I feel funny about it and so does, it turns out, the new food editor, who tweeted:

#BlackHistoryMonth is important to many people for so many reasons, but I found myself frustrated this year at the thought of designating special coverage for February when, really Black lives, history, excellence, struggle and joy is something to cover year round. (1/x)

There’s plenty more to read, if not about food, but I tend to agree: it shouldn’t be a catchup month for a community you don’t cover the rest of the year. Going back to my earliest days in food writing, nobody at LTHForum ever thought they should write about Honey 1 BBQ because it was February; they did so because the barbecue was amazing and African-American barbecue was a great story that took in so much more than food. Anyway, here’s the current content of this sort at the Trib, and as February ends, we look forward to more throughout the year:

• Eggrolls in flavors like Jerk chicken are a popular item in African-American neighborhoods, as Nick Kindelsperger writes.

• Louisa Chu’s series on how black-owned restaurants are faring under COVID concludes with Uncle Remus. By the way, her interview with the owner of MacArthur’s on the West Side, Mac Alexander, is in the Chewing podcast mentioned above.

• I don’t remember where I first heard of Ms. Biscuit—maybe Serious Eats back in the day—but the Washington Park soul food breakfast spot was probably a once a year spot for me and my kids, especially during Open House Chicago when they were sites in that area. It closed a couple of years ago but plans to reopen soon, as Nick Kindelsperger tells the story.

Buzz 2


So it’s been three months since I published the Fooditor 33, new restaurants that had blossomed in COVID times. How fast does our scene change now? Well, Time Out Chicago just published a similar list, and 22 out of the 30 spots they name did not even exist yet when I published my list all the way back in December. So check this one out if you’re looking for new things to try.


Monica Eng leads us through the anatomy of a South Side favorite, the sweet steak and makes a case for it being the ultimate Chicago sandwich.


So what’s Steve Dolinsky doing now in his post-ABC 7 life? As it turns out, much what he did while at the station—he launches his independent version of his Friday Feature by highlighting an arepa shop in Lakeview, 11 Degrees North.


Harmarket Beer launched a brand called Don’t Stop the Presses, benefiting the Reader, Block Club and the Daily Line. Mike Sula tells more. Also, there’s now a link to the Clarion mentioned last week on the main food & drink page.


Mary Jo McGuire, wife of Butch McGuire, namesake of a legendary Rush Street Bar, at 85 following COVID. Per the Sun-Times:

It quickly became the nucleus of a lively strip bursting with singles ready to mingle as the birth control pill and sexual revolution upended traditional postwar mores. The tavern is credited with thousands of marriages and the invention of the Harvey Wallbanger and the Skip and Go Naked cocktails, not to mention Christmas displays that transform it into a wonderland… Its female-friendly reputation helped, too. Butch’s touted its hiring of women as bartenders. The saloon reserved barstools for female patrons and was known for protecting them from harassment.


Something that might catch on: newish French restaurant Robert et Fils has added an Employee Relief Fund option to its Tock page; select it and an extra buck goes to the staff. Isn’t that a tip and I’m already doing it? Well, sort of, but it puts an accurate name to what you’re paying for—helping support the staff in a hard time. I’m for anything which (gently) educates diners to the reality of restaurant life right now.


I’m happy to mention any new restaurant where they contact me directly to let me know their place exists, and so I was charmed by what George Ivey had to say about a new soul food spot in Chatham called Oooh Wee It Is, of which he says:

you can sit back and enjoy your Soul Food Meal, and listen to, ( Gizelle) singing to a live Band, or  ( Lester Jay) doing a soulful Luther Vandross song, or ( Mashavu Wilson) dancing and singing Neo-Soul.you can also Swing on Adult Swings, and have a fun Swing Challenge. Menu, Pork Chops, Jerk Chicken, Barbeque Ribs, Lamb Chops, Oxtails, Collared Greens.the owner is Mark Walker.

It’s actually a second location: here’s a bit of video on Facebook.


Someday Dear Margaret will be a cute neighborhood spot for date nights. At the moment the little space, most recently Bistro Dré and Seafood on a Table, is  entirely empty of tables and seats, doing pickup under heat lamps on a counter. The French-Canadian concept from Ryan Brousseau (Le Sud, Table, Donkey & Stick) and PR professional Lacey Irby would seem to emphasize hearty comfort food for chilly times like putsins (chicken and dumplings), a meat pie called Tourtiere, and a platter of braised ham with split peas, though it also has a lot of vegetable dishes which take a variety of approaches, from roasted parsnips with a tangy anchovy vinaigrette to smoked carrots with whipped feta and charred broccoli with a kimchi-like pickled radish.

It could just be me and a new vegetable-driven, doctor-ordered lifestyle, but I found the veggies to be the standouts—all imaginative and fresh-tasting. Meat dishes were a little heavy by comparison, but that’s kind of the promise of “French-Canadian” food. Our dessert, a “butter tart” (maple sugar and blueberries) was delightful. A promising opening and I look forward to sitting there to dine next time.