It’s got to bug ex-Rooh chef Sujan Sarkar that by the time he opened Indienne, his new Indian tasting menu restaurant, it was the second Indian tasting menu in town (after The Coach House at Wazwan), but I’d take it as a sign that the audience is ready. Tatyana Turner at the Trib tells more:

Take, for example, an egg curry at his new River North fine-dining restaurant, Indienne. A poached egg — swapped out for the traditional hard-boiled — nests in a buttery-orange sauce; uni, peas and crispy garlic embedded in the curry’s depths. The something extra comes in the form of a geometric crown, a polygonal wafer made from buckwheat, inviting customers to crack into the dish with a little whimsy.


Steve Dolinsky calls a chunk of Avondale and the area straight north it the Sandwich Triangle, calling attention to handcrafted, innovative sandwiches at J.T.’s Genuine, Loaf Lounge and TriBecca’s.


It’s interesting that the Trib runs a newbie’s guide to what makes Chicago’s own Italian beef... and then the same week, thanks to baseball (apparently there’s a team from there in the World Series or something), they run a similar guide to Philly cheese steak. What are they going to do next, New York slice pizza?


Friend of Fooditor Cynthia Clampitt wrote a book about corn, so who better to try the heirloom corn varieties being used by the new restaurant Fora in the Emily Hotel:

The tortillas arrive nestled in a tortilla warmer. There are four medium-sized corn disks, one for each of the four types of corn in the kitchen. The differences are not startling, mostly texture, thickness, a bit of color. The freshness is obvious. They are served with butter that has been mixed with recado negro, an ancient Mayan seasoning made of burnt spices and tortillas. Letting the recado burn was a challenge, but a worthwhile one, [chef Matt] Danko says. The flavor in this application is subtle, at least if you’re accustomed to recado negro as a sauce.


Jeffy Mai, reviewing for Time Out, seems put off by the prices at Obélix, though it’s far from the most expensive new spot in town in my book:

Similar to Le Bouchon, Obelix’s menu is full of French staples, albeit at slightly higher price points to match the neighborhood. Steak tartare is always a go-to for me and the Asian-tinged version here is outstanding. Cubes of raw filet mignon are dressed with green garlic aioli, dried kelp, banh mi pickles and herbs. Each bite—meant to be eaten with beer bread—is packed with flavor and a hint of spice.

However, the most fascinating item of the evening lives in the menu’s duck section. An indulgent foie gras taco, dubbed “Foie-co,” features a seared lobe of duck liver with grape jam and salsa macha in a tortilla that’s been crisped in foie fat. At $23, it’s likely the priciest taco in the city but worth the splurge. While our server called it a two-biter, we found it quite shareable and at least double that conservative estimate.


Dennis Lee finds heaven in Villa Park at a place called I Love Frys:

It’s a goddamn wonderland. There’s stuff like ranch-dusted fries, to stuff like your usual chili cheese fries, and then the menu starts getting interesting really quickly. There’s a Maxwell Street Polish fry complete with sausage, onions, and mustard. Then there’s pork belly fries which include pork belly chunks tossed in a Korean ketchup mixture. Of course, there’s poutine (which you can sub for fried cheese curds!!!), then something called Villa Cheesesteak Frys which have cheese sauce, thin griddled steak, and a pita. The menu’s like a rubber ball chucked at full force into a small closet, bouncing all over the place. You can just feel the sheer glee.


Michael Nagrant writes how he imagines the Meadowlark (the new bar from the Lardon/Union guys) would respond to the review he would have written. Confusing, I know, so cut to the conclusion and work backward:

This is obviously fictional parody–except the part where like Meadowlark is a really good bar, and you all will absolutely love it.


That’s the concept at Territory Kitchen in Lincoln Square, not like Sbarro’s, but as co-owner/chef Vittorio Iasalvatore puts it:

“Our concept is called ‘tavola calda’ in Italy, which means ‘hot table.’ It’s like Italian fast food because it means you can grab a hot plate in a timely manner,” Iasalvatore said. “You don’t need to wait 20 or 30 minutes to get a hot plate. Instead, your order will be ready in like five or six minutes.”


Chicago mag offers a guide to the better plant-based foods around town—though as “What Mike Ate” will suggest this week, the best plant-based cooking is often found at places that aren’t proclaiming their plantiness but simply cook really well, sometimes with just vegetables.


Lucas Peterson visits Calumet Fisheries for Eater’s Dining on a Dime series.


A few years ago I wrote about how Friend of Fooditor Jim Graziano and his family were evolving their long-running West Loop family business, J.P. Graziano. I could have written the story five times since then as Jim keeps devising new ways for the wholesaler turned vintage Chicago sandwich shop to market “Real Chicago.” Instead, here’s an interview with Jim at a realtor’s site about why the 80+ year old business is an essential piece of our city’s scene:

We started making sandwiches in 2005 and beginning of 2006. So, we got a quite a number of years under our belt at this point. It’s amazing, but no matter what write up you get; you’re never hanging your hat on something forever. I am a big fan of saying, “Enjoy the ride home.” When you get the recognition of something like that. You revel in it for the day on the ride home and enjoy that because you know you really broke your ass to get that kind of recognition. But then every other day, man, you wake up and you haven’t sold a sandwich and there’s still a million people that don’t know about it, and you gotta go earn it.


Speaking (as I was last week) of reviewing in the world where COVID made us feel like we shouldn’t be too tough on restaurants… Before John Kessler came to Chicago from Atlanta to inflict his opinions on Italian beef on us, he moved to Atlanta from Denver, where he wrote for a publication called Westword. They just did a piece about how much reviewers matter any more, and reached out to him among others. Check it out!


Doughnut, that is. ABC 7 visits the 84-year-old champion doughnut maker of the South Side, Burritt Bulloch of Old-Fashioned Donuts.


Not a huge viewer of the Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil, but I have to say that Phil Rosenthal’s appearance on David Leite and Amy Traverso’s Talking With My Mouth Full podcast is the funniest podcast episode I’ve listened to for a while, and smart about doing a show about food while not being nearly as fearless as Anthony Bourdain (that’s how he pitched the show—”Like Bourdain, but afraid of things”).


I’ve mentioned a couple of times the talk on Italian beef history by Anthony Buccini (Antonius from LTHForum) for Culinary Historians of Chicago; delayed at least once, it’s now set for Tuesday, November 15 at 7 pm on Zoom. Find out more on Facebook or on the Culinary Historians site.


A pan-Latino restaurant in… Skokie. Not the most promising-sounding description, but Libertad, which opened in 2011, has been a reliable spot for Mexican, Cuban, etc. flavors in a reasonably upscale, but by no means super-posh or expensive, neighborhood location. I had not been in a few years but was reminded of its existence and encouraged to return by the news that Mark Mendez (Carnivale, Vera) had joined them as chef.

Well, let me just say: go! The menu is full of things that have Latin flavors without being conventional Mexican (or wherever) food. That sounds like fusion food, which I suppose it is, but not in the watered-down way that often suggests. A couple of seasonal salads—delicata squash with salsa macha and one of roasted beets—were excellent vegetarian dishes with hints of Mexican flavors to start. For entrees I had pan-roasted halibut in tomato-ey salsa veracruzana, while my friend had a beautifully cooked piece of skirt steak with chimmichurri and chipotle chevre. The cooking was as expert and precisely flavored as any meal I’ve had in recent times—not surprising, because Mendez has long been a master at simple direct cooking (I remember him telling me—it might be in this podcast—how hard he found it to keep young cooks because they’d want to do a bunch of elaborate molecular stuff, and he’d be like, show me how you roast a chicken first.) I can’t wait to find an excuse to go back; you need to find an excuse to eat dinner in Skokie as soon as possible.

I also went to one of the Ukrainian dinners being held at Wherewithall as a fundraiser for a charity providing aid to Ukraine, and named for chef/co-owner Johnny Clark’s Ukrainian grandmother Anelya. I have ancestors, not Ukrainian ethnically but German Mennonites who settled in Ukraine for about a hundred years, leaving for America in the late 1800s; my mom cooks certain recipes that come from Ukrainian side of the family. But the menu at the moment is more about what people eat in the Carpathian mountains, so it wasn’t much like anything I know—one thing we had was basically the same as Italian lardo, and definitely the sort of thing that only people who do a lot of climbing or something similarly strenuous should eat in quantity.

Anyway, it was interesting as heck—like the Swedish julbord dinners at Tre Kronor, not really restaurant food, but the kinds of things that you might find at home in that region. So pickled herring, headcheese, grilled pork skewers and chicken (grilled over what was handy, which was a Japanese binchotan grill), a dessert of farmers cheese stuffed with cherries and fried in a ball, like arancini. To drink with it there was mostly wine (one an Oregon red wine made by Matty Colston, who used to be Parachute’s beverage director), but also a spirit (I forget the name, but it was close to the Polish equivalent of “cheers,” na zdrowie) consisting of different flavorings in vodka—ginger, birch, even horseradish. There are only a few more of these dinners ahead, and even fewer that have space open, but if you want to attend a dinner unlike any you’ve likely had lately, you can see availability here.