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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Archive for February, 2008

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02.19.08

Dirty Tacos

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Monica Eng has a nice Ashland Ave. taco throwdown review on The Stew She ends the piece by talking about how some reader wrote her an unpleasant note about Carnicera Leon being “grubby” last time she wrote about it. This time Eng writes a disclaimer saying that Carniceria Leon isn’t the spot to go to if you’re looking for fancy surroundings….I’m willing to bet the reader who wrote her the note didn’t even get the taco, because if she had, she’s have written a note thanking Monica for sending her to one of the best Tacos Al Pastor in Chicago. Sure, the outside of Carniceria Leon (1402 N. Ashland) looks like a cross between a prison and a convenience store, but the grime inside is honest and neccessary, basically the kind of carbon streaking and “seasoning” a spot needs to yield special tacos.

02.18.08

TRU: The Next Generation

Grape Pun: All Things Wine, Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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TRU sommelier Chad Ellegood. Photo by Lara Kastner

With sommelier Scott Tyree’s departure for Hart Davis Hart last year and Rick Tramonto splitting time on his Cenitare restaurant projects (though he’s still very much involved at TRU), we wondered how TRU restaurant was faring. Turns out it’s in the able hands of chef de cuisine Tim Graham and wine director and sommelier Chad Ellegood. In this podcast I get to know Ellegood and Graham a bit and we discuss their new paradigm shifting wine service and the future of cooking at TRU.

If you have Adobe Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Tim Graham and Chad Ellegood Interview

02.17.08

Sola has a blog

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Sola has launched a blog.

02.15.08

Global Comfort Food

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Danielle Braff has a piece on the best global comfort foods in Time Out this week. Some of her choices are really good. For example the borscht at Russian Tea Time is exciting, as is the pongal at Udupi Palace. Pierogi wise, don’t go to her suggestion of Podhalanka, unless your idea of comfort is gluey dough and dried filling. Overall Podhalanka makes good Polish food, but of the eight pierogi spots I ate at for this Time Out article, Podhalanka’s were one of the worst. Smak Tak (5961 N. Elston) is your best bet. Also, while I don’t know a ton about bangers and mash, my gut tells me that Fado Irish Pub, a national chain, is not the best place to find black pudding. That’s like saying you’ll find the best burgers in Chicago at McDonald’s. Then again, anything is possible. I’ve often thought some of the best local beans and rice can be found at Popeye’s on certain days, that is until I found Lagniappe (1525 W. 79th St.).

02.15.08

Chicago’s New National Stars

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Per Drive Thru, Food and Wine has named their “must try” Chicago restaurants. The list comes from Heather Shouse, editor of Time Out’s Eat Out/Drink Up section. Kudo’s to Food and Wine for using an informed local like Shouse to cover the list. In doing so, readers get a chance to check out a wonderful mole palace like Sol de Mexico, which outsider based coverage may have missed.

02.14.08

Lockwood Rekeys with New GM

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Kirk Alston, formerly of Otom, is taking over as GM of Lockwood (17 E. Monroe in the Palmer House Hilton). Not a good sign for a place that’s been open barely two months. We wonder if it has anything to do with subpar reviews from Anne Spiselman of the Reader and Laura Bianchi of Crain’s and Heather Shouse of Time Out . While Spiselman dinged service, Bianchi and Shouse were pretty much up in arms about the food. So, we wonder, is Chef Phillip Foss on his way out too?

We just spoke with new GM Kirk Alston…

Q: So does this GM change have anything to do with the reviews? I know Anne Spiselman at the Reader was tough on your service.

Well Anne’s tough on a lot of people, but yeah it’s fair to say that had something to do with it. We have a lot of great staff, with a lot of experience, but they haven’t all worked at places like Trotter’s, and that’s the kind of experience we’re trying to bring. The people at Trotter’s are so good, because they have been working at that level for a while. More »

02.14.08

Throwin Down Over Java

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Janet Franz of the Trib has an article featuring cranky restaurant owners who don’t want outside beverages (read Starbucks) in their establishments.

Um, I didn’t know the Tribune served the interest of restaurant owners…I thought it was all about the readers, or as Sam Zell has been saying (along with a few four letter words), if the readers want puppies, or in this case, their morning Starbuck’s, you better listen to ‘em. More »

02.14.08

Monica Eng was Once a Thai Food Virgin

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Trib food staff has a nice Valentine’s day homage to the defunct food places and people they love. In that spirit, Southside Shrimp House, how I’ll miss your honest dinginess and your butterflied garlicky Chicago style shrimp, the best in town (I know because I ate 60 pieces in one afternoon at a bunch of second class shacks before I found you). Goin’ to watch Buehrle hurl and Konerko ding will never be the same, now that your roiling vats of oil have been silenced. More »

02.14.08

BYOB Recon

Grape Pun: All Things Wine


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Dr. Vino has created a Google map of Chicago BYOB spots. We’ve seen something similar, but he’s color coding the spots that are better than your average noodle joint, which should prove useful as more spots are added.

02.13.08

Another Reason to Get Drunk in March

Bites: News and Miscellany


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If St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA tourney leave you wanting more, now you can get soused on St. Joseph’s Day too. On March 19, 2008, from 6 to 9 p.m A Mano (335 N. Dearborn St.) restaurant, for $45 all inclusive, will be providing plenty of wine and the following bountiful spread:

Imported Burrata Cheese with House Smoked Salmon
Arugula & Roasted Pepper Salad with Goat Cheese
Marinated Artichoke and Mint Salad
Fava Bean, Fennel and Blood Orange Salad
Octopus and Chickpea Salad
Baccala Fritters with Agro Dolce Sauce
Minestrone Soup
Fricco (crisp cheese cookies)
Fresh Wood-Fired Oven Pizzas
Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Sardines
Farfalle with Cauliflower and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Fritto Misto of Shrimp, Green Beans and Lemons
Wood Rotisserie Roasted Whole Striped Bass
Zeppole di San Giuseppe (sweet, cream-filled profiteroles)
Chocolate and Citrus-Filled Cannoli
Housemade Organic Gelati and Sorbetti
Assorted Italian Cookies

Word is the Italians also don red clothing and engaging in rousing bouts of bocce on St. Joseph’s…no word if A Mano will be featuring a bocce throwdown…

02.13.08

Sifting Through the Garbage of Chicago Restaurants

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Nice article on whether Chicago restaurants and city waste haulers are paying any attention to an ordinance that requires restaurants to recycle a percentage of their waste. Instead of subsidizing CTA pensions with real estate transfer taxes, Daley should use the new revenue to encourage more recycling audits.

02.13.08

Schwa:Reckless or Revolutionary?

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Monica Eng and Phil Vettel have a great story about Schwa’s last night and the goods on the impending reopening. Still, they don’t seem to answer the central question of their article (at least in a new way)…why did Michael Carlson walk away? The answer is basically the same from Heather Shouse’s article in Time Out: that he was stressed out and he wanted to take time off to be with his family. I’m betting there’s another story here that no one’s gotten to the bottom of….

Also, that being said, I’ve had Carlson’s food including the vaunted quail egg ravioli. He’s definitely a talent (I named Schwa, Best New Restaurant in Newcity last year), but I think his exposure has just as much to do with his punk rock nature. He paints everything as being on his own terms, which can sound like he’s charmingly independent, but I tend to think he’s a bit reckless. More »

02.12.08

Sola Trumps Restaurant Week

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Last week I dubbed Chicago’s restaurant week corporate garbage intent on serving up a batch of uninspired French food to tourists. I’m sure chef Carol Wallack didn’t hear my rant, but, she and Sola, a true Chicago independent restaurant, came through with an inspired $30 pre-fixe tasting. Not only that, but the tasting isn’t some one time thing, but rather a regular weekly series. You can even email chef Wallack at dine@sola-restaurant.com, to let her know what you’d like to see on the menu.

Details:

Chef Carol Wallack of Sola, 3868 N. Lincoln, is introducing an affordable Three-Course Prix-Fixe menu beginning Tuesday, February 19th, which will be available every Tuesday and Wednesday for dinner, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The new menu is priced at $30 per person and highlights a featured ingredient, which will change each month. What a great way to save and splurge at the same time!

This month’s menu, available February 19th -21st, will feature Chef Wallack’s personal favorite, bacon! The first course is a Bacon and Grilled Pineapple Salad, pineapple, rosemary, black vinegar, pineapple coulis followed by the main course, which is Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Hawaiian sweet potato puree, Chinese broccoli, sczechwan peppercorn jus finished with a Taffy Apple Pie with Bacon Brittle Ice Cream, apple cider five spice syrup.

02.12.08

Badly Named Restaurant Department

Bites: News and Miscellany


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NXXT bar and grill is open. Apparently their 22 year old executive chef Jonathan Meyer is a “baby genius” for his “killer meatloaf sandwich and peach cobbler”. Somebody better call Homaro Cantu and Grant Achatz and tell them their time is up. No word if any West Town riot grrls (am I missing an “r”?) have been spotted at NXXT. [Daily Candy]

02.12.08

Slyder Love

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Chicagoland White Castles will be offering candlelight dining on Valentine’s day. I’d make fun of this, but when my wife and I were in college, we failed to make reservations one Valentine’s day, and ended up fighting in a Burger King parking lot. The tiff was nothing a Whopper and their teflon coated fries couldn’t solve. As I look back on it, it was one of the better Valentine’s days, because as some of you will soon discover, restaurants are overcrowded and packed to the gills on this particular hallmark holiday. When chef’s like to refer to a holiday like Valentine’s day as “amateur night”, you know you’re in trouble.

02.10.08

Has Alton Brown Jumped the Shark?

Bites: News and Miscellany


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On a Sunday morning, a few weeks ago, my wife huffily informed me we were out of pancake mix.

I said, “No problem, just throw some flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together.”

Exasperated, she said, “Do we have to cook everything here like its 1925?” More »

02.08.08

Pat Bruno’s on the Sauce

Bites: News and Miscellany


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There’s a useful article by Pat Bruno in today’s Sun Times on making a porky red sauce for your Sunday pasta. Though he refers to sauce as gravy. Since most Chicagoans reserve their gravy for their Italian beef sandwiches, we’ll keep calling it sauce here at Hungry. Also, Pat must live far away from Lake St., because he says he has a hard time finding pork neck bones for the sauce. We called and identified a couple of sources for you, if you want to keep it autentico:

Grant Park Packing

or

Peoria Packing at 1307-09 W. Lake Street

02.08.08

Cloves

Food History


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How far would you go to prove a point? For Ferdinand Magellan, the answer to that question was “all the way around the world,” and the point he was trying to prove is where east becomes west. More »

02.07.08

Lenten Treats

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Phil Vettel sure likes the $17 fish and chips at the Gage. You would too if you had an expense account. If you want to save some bucks and get equally good fare, try the $12 version at the Gage’s sister restaurant, The Grafton (4530 N. Lincoln Ave.), or the $8.25 Atlantic Cod at the Red Lion (2446 N. Lincoln Ave).

Of course, fish is so old school Wisconsin, why not check out some of Chicago’s best shrimp houses instead. I wrote the article for Time Out last year, and unfortunately my favorite spot, the Southside Shrimp House is now closed. Snappy’s is still awesome, as is Troha’s and Calumet fisheries. Goose Island offers you the best value in town.

02.07.08

“Foodies” Led Astray

Bites: News and Miscellany


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This is such a waste of newsprint. A new Chicago Trib reporter hosts, her “foodie” friends, under the auspices of giving readers tips on hosting gourmand visitors. The idea is fine. The execution is horrible. The article would be much better if the reporter actually knew something about Chicago. Basically, it’s the blind leading the blind. Also, if the reporter’s friends were really foodies, would they have J. Alexander, Bandera, and Grand Lux Cafe on their eating wish list? I can just see the pitch meeting.

New Trib Reporter: Um, like, my college friends are coming to town and like they like food.

Editor: Should be a fun weekend.

New Trib Reporter: Well, like what if we did a story on eating a lot in 36 hours, and what it’s like to host out of towners.

Editor: Informative service piece. I like. Do it.

New Trib Reporter: Cool, but like they don’t know anything about food and neither do I, so can we just go to places on the mag mile like Grand Lux Cafe and Bandera, of oohhh how about a national chain like J. Alexander’s which is so emblematic of Chicago? Oh, and we’ll hit the trendiest breakfast place in Chicago and wait an hour in line for breakfast, and we’ll cap it off with one of my favorite eats from when I was a U of Chicago marooner, a second tier cajun/creole restaurant in Hyde Park.

Editor: Sounds awesome.


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