Longtime Greektown stalwart The Parthenon, claimed inventor of flaming saganaki (Janet Rausa Fuller tells the story of this Chicago innovation), has closed, not long after the fast open and shutdown of its abortive attempt at a more upscale place, Aviva. Eater has a little more on why (though they introduce the claim that The Parthenon was the first to serve gyros, which is plainly not so); the Sun-Times says it’s back taxes and a slump in business, which makes you suspect that the hot West Loop is finally hurting Greektown’s traditional position as a place for business dinners close to the Loop.

I only went there a couple of times (my place in Greektown was Greek Islands, home of the garlickiest tzatziki on earth) but I did rank it #1 on this Thrillist list. A bigger fan for sure was Anthony Todd, who wrote this smart, sweet piece about going to The Parthenon as a kid, and what it taught him about restaurants; be sure to check it out. Opaa!


Jeff Ruby raves about the new improved Alinea in Chicago mag, saying it’s not only changed things around but made the temple more approachable: “A staffer ushered the entire group into the kitchen for an apéritif. Gone was the silent, intimidating temple of old; in its place stood an exhilarating workspace filled with noise, action, and animated human beings.” I’ll stop there rather than quote the whole damn thing.


Dallas chef John Tesar came to the awareness of many when he went off on social media to a Dallas critic… who’d just given him three stars. Now he’s going after the owners of Fork because they’re opening a steakhouse called Knife… and he has a steakhouse called Knife. And so do other people! In fact, that’s why he couldn’t trademark it, so while he’s threatening legal action, it’s pretty doubtful he has any claim of ownership to the name—and compare for yourself at Eater Dallas here, but I don’t think the logos have much similarity, either, even if… wait for it… they both depict a knife in the logo. The zillion Chinese restaurants called Golden Dragon with dragons on their signage could not be reached for comment.


After so many negative reviews along its way, C Chicago-turned-Ocean Cut has seemed like the old definition of a boat (“a hole in the water into which you keep throwing money”). But after a pretty good Phil Vettel review, it gets a positively glowing 4-star one from Crains’ Joanna Trestrail: “The howling about prices had struck us as odd; C Chicago’s were in line with those of other ambitious downtown places. And charging by weight isn’t unheard of in the world of fancy beef—why so exercised when the subject is fish? Most of the menu was priced the usual way, and the generous three-course prix fixe lunch was an undeniable bargain. But it feels like smooth sailing once again in this sun-splashed room, detailed with gleaming wood and brass touches that feel nautical without being kitschy. Business lunchers will find impressively wrought food, tables spaced for privacy, comfortable seating and a noise level that doesn’t interfere with conversation.”

Congrats to chef Dirk Flanigan and crew for turning the boat around, though I think there was more to the bad reviews than merely price—forget Jeff Ruby’s legendary takedown and look at Mike Sula’s much more evenhanded review, and you’ll see that it wasn’t just expensive, it wasn’t worth its price for mishandled food or service. That’s what needed to be righted.


The combination of a character-rich dive bar (Bridgeport’s famous Maria’s) and Polish and Korean food might have been designed for Reader critic Mike Sula, and not surprisingly he’s pretty taken with Kimski: “The signature item here is the Maria’s Standard, a fat, snappy Polish sausage on a bun topped with soju-spiked mustard, scallions, sesame seeds, and a sweetish, purple cabbage kraut fermented with a kimchi-boosted hot sauce—made in collaboration with Co-op—that’s something every household should stock.”


Phil Vettel gives three stars to John Manion’s smoky, manly El Che Bar: “The focal point of the 100-seat dining space (and adjacent bar) is the wood-fired hearth, its flames roaring so high that those at nearby tables can feel the heat. Hand-cranked elevators position the food just so, and the cooking is remarkably precise… the asada section of the menu offers a wide range of proteins, from blood sausage to pork chops and beyond. Grilled short ribs, the thin, bone-in meat with challenging chew but rewarding flavor, work well with an acidic chimichurri sauce and charred onions. Whole-roasted sweetbreads offer deep, funky flavors nicely balanced by pickled vegetables and smooth cauliflower puree. Swordfish, an easy fish to overcook, emerges perfectly moist on a bed of peppers, cherry tomatoes and pepitas.” He also chats with sommelier Alexis Chabert about her South American-focused wine list.


In CS Lisa Shames finds a chill vibe and simple classic food at Honey’s: “’We wanted to take all those great elements of fine dining, high-quality ingredients, food and service,’ says partner Justin Furman, ‘and take the edge off a bit.’ In the kitchen, Executive Chef Charles Welch (Sepia) translates that mindset into a concise menu of lovely Mediterranean-leaning dishes, many of which have had some of their ingredients visit the wood-burning grill. It’s not ‘fancy-pants food,’ says Welch, who prefers to start with classic preparations and techniques before he makes a dish his own.”


One cuisine that’s on the rise in Chicago is Filipino, and last year’s Kultura Fest showed off what’s happening in Filipino food—which in my case, was that it was gone by the time I got there. They’re doing it up bigger in response this October 2, and Joseph Hernandez has a story on it (though that claim that Chicago’s Filipino population is 1 million can’t be right; the 2010 census showed about one-eighth of that).


90-year-old paleta (Mexican popsicle) guy Fidencio Sanchez has worked the West Side for years. Somebody thought it would be nice to use GoFundMe to raise a little money for him. They’ve raised $136,000 so far. Look for the first paleta operating out of a Tesla. (DNA Info)


Finch’s brewpub is an improvement on Finch beer by itself, says Julia Thiel, and so are the revamped brand’s new brews: “The peppery Cave of Chauvet saison is simple but satisfying, and the Sungasm Belgian-style pale ale marries bright grapefruit with grassy hops. Inanimate Object, a Belgian-style dubbel brewed with rye, contrasts a creamy, chocolaty body with rye spice. Another favorite is Midgard, identified as a Gottslandrika, a style that I’m half convinced the brewery made up (if you google the name, the only results that come up are associated with Finch). Brewed with smoked malt and honey malt, it’s excellent—a bit like a smoky, spicy, complex amber ale.” (Reader)


The Domu site has a piece on that bike shop with a cafe in it on Lincoln, Heritage Bicycles.


Fooditor contributor Titus Ruscitti took a trip to one of my planned-someday destinations, Charleston. And… OMG, if you like fried crustaceans, this is an epic collection of food porn. Check it out at (one of) his blogs.


From one of the guys behind Baconfest, my old LTHForum pal Seth Zurer, comes Dumplingfest! Which leads him and David Hammond into a philosophical consideration of… so what makes a dumpling a dumpling? (Newcity)


So I checked out Paulie Gee’s, the Brooklyn import whose Detroit-style pizza has been much hyped lately, with the very Brooklyn-hipster-weird touch of putting the tomato sauce on cold (not just after it’s baked, but literally cold; Sula tried to explain why here), as well as being made in Brooklynesque-exclusive numbers of only so many on certain nights. (It’s a wonder you don’t have to buy it ahead of time on Tock.) And after all that… it’s about as good as any number of pan pizzas all over Chicago, including Detroit chain Jet. Perfectly okay, but not worth going through any hipster hoops at all to get. The happier news is… the more or less Neapolitan style pizzas are actually really good; the various combinations are quite interesting—had one with sausage and tomato jam that was terrific, and another with gouda, serrano chili and honey was quite good, too. I also give owner Derrick Tung credit for checking on each table, which is downright midwestern of him. So stick to the regular pizza menu and don’t fret about making sure to get Chicago’s most exclusive pizza since Great Lake, and you’ll like it fine.