“A little slice of cheese wedged onto Lincoln Avenue. A giant moose head presides over the bar, a pair of snowshoes hang in the dining room awaiting the next blizzard, and there’s enough tufted red leather to outfit a padded cell,” Mike Sula says by way of summing up the atmosphere at Lincoln Park’s ersatz Millie’s Supper Club. But the food, alas, too often lives up to midwestern mediocrity: “Take the prime rib, offered in three increasingly indigestible weights: it’s roasted slow, as reported on the menu, which somehow fails to render the fat or denature the proteins on this particular grade of beef. A medium-rare order results in a chewy disaster requiring the mandibular constitution of a pit bull to put away.” (Reader)


As Taco Month comes to a close all over the city, in Redeye Michael Nagrant takes a fond look at Rubi’s, the handpatted taco stand at Maxwell Street, though I’m going to argue with the idea that Rick Bayless kicked off insane lines when he took Andrew Zimmern there for Bizarre Foods in 2011—Bayless kicked off serious, if not quite insane, lines long before that when he referenced the place in Saveur. Anyway, good piece with a lot of background info on the family behind it: “On any given Sunday, Ramirez can be heard bellowing “Yes! Yes! Yes!” while wielding a scimitar-like carving blade and shaving pork al pastor from a charcoal roasting spit. Landa and other family members hand-pat fresh masa into tortilla rounds and pop them on a charcoal-fired grill. Meats, veggies and sauces bubble and spit in cast-iron pans on the stove. Ramirez Landa’s brother Gilberto slices the carne asada for the steak tacos.”


You know how you can tell when a food writer had a bad experience? When the review starts getting broken up into sentence fragments, like “And then we waited. And waited.” Anthony Todd at Chicagoist went to try the new Ocean Cut, formerly the much-maligned C Chicago, and… “The ocean charcuterie was, frankly, a mix of terrible and nondescript. It’s a variation on a charcuterie plate, except using seafood ingredients. This could be a good idea, I suppose, but ended up tasting mostly bland. The ‘seafood sausage’ tasted like lobster dusted with Italian seasoning, and the foie gras and eel terrine went uneaten after the initial bite, a sad reminder of the fact that a goose (or its liver) should not under any circumstances have anything to do with an eel, unless the eel happened to leap out of the water and strangle the goose to death.”


Julia Thiel checks out Tropikava Kafe, Chicago’s first place serving an alleged “magical root” from the South Pacific: “I’m apprehensive about the flavor, but the other customer—her name, I find out later, is Anna—tells me that it tastes the way tree bark smells after it rains. It’s an oddly specific description that turns out to be oddly accurate.” But does it make you high? “Once at my desk, I’m suddenly aware my mood is better than it’s been in days. I’m telling a coworker about kava when my boss, overhearing our conversation, asks if I feel relaxed. Not exactly, I say—but I do feel something. ‘Effervescent?’ he asks. Sort of. Do I seem effervescent? He and the other coworker both nod. I’m pretty sure that word has never before been used to describe me.”


When the legendary Burt’s closed earlier this year, there was talk of selling it, but honestly, would anyone want to take over the quirkily cluttered, admittedly a bit dingy, full-of-history pizza place? Yes, it turns out, as friend of the late Burt Louisa Chu explains at the Trib.


Bummer news—the excellent Cajun bar and restaurant Analogue is losing its founders and chef Alfredo Nogueira, reports Eater. Management quickly tried to stem talk of decline by announcing that sous chef Dani Kaplan would be promoted. Let’s hope that keeps this surprising set of mass departures from being the end of Analogue.


This piece by Scott Smith about Rainbow Cone is three months old, but the weather is right for it now: “The Rainbow Cone is a both an engineering marvel and a kid’s fantasy come true. Literally. The story goes that the New York-born Sapp grew up as an orphan on an Ohio work farm and had few indulgences, save for the times he could save up enough money for ice cream. At the time, he had two choices: chocolate and vanilla. Rather than a single serving of one or the other, Sapp envisioned a carnival of flavors perched on his cone. As an adult, he brought this vision to life.”


How old is Schaller’s Pump, the Bridgeport bar and unofficial headquarters of the Chicago Democratic Party? When 92-year-old Jack Schaller was born, his family had already been running it for 43 years. Schaller passed away Saturday; the Sun-Times has a nice memorial piece here.


Congrats to Sarah Grueneberg and Meg Sahs, whose Monteverde rightly made GQ’s Best New Restaurants list. And to Stephanie Izard and Gary Valentine, proud parents of Ernie William (yes, Billy Goat) Valentine, born Thursday.


Want to see what dinner at Alinea looks like now? Check out the excellent photos at this blog.


I went to Oriole, and what can I say that hasn’t already been said? I agree with Jeff Ruby that it’s remarkably assured and well put together for so new a restaurant (two months or so), putting out precise plates that capture a few delicate and skillful bites—king crab in a delicate cream, luscious bites of A5 wagyu, Genie Kwon’s not-too-sweet desserts—in small, beautifully arranged packages. And that it’s all pulled off in such a quiet space (despite an open kitchen) is a credit to the skill and, frankly, emotional maturity of the young chefs and service staff working there. In any case, it’s a gem, an instant standout, and you should grab your spot in the small dining room sooner rather than later.