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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Feature Archive 'Restaurant Reviews'

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« Previous Entries

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Newer Entries »
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02.22.07

Restaurant Michael

Restaurant Reviews


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Chef Michael Lachowicz

Restaurant Michael in Winnetka led me to coin a new phrase: haute comfort food. There was no ponzu sauce, Latin fusion, or edible menu. What they offered was simply expertly prepared French food. That doesn’t mean you don’t find the occasional shiitake mushroom or a bit of fabulously enriched polenta, but the focus is not on absorbing as many international influences as possible. It’s French. And for those of us who grew up in an age when fabulous French food was rare enough that we considered it a treat, sometimes that’s what we want: French food. I love the cutting-edge places, but sometimes it’s good to just sink into a meal of perfectly cooked French classics. Of course, being new to French food won’t preclude you from enjoying this place. It’s just that, for people who want hip and edgy, this isn’t it. It’s comfort food for Francophiles. More »

02.01.07

Big Greek Breakfast

Restaurant Reviews


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Caramelized banana pancakes at Meli Cafe

Those who might bemoan the ebb of old-fashioned Chicago patronage need only look at Greektown to change their mind. The Near West Side neighborhood is one where waiters still beget restaurateurs who beget waiters who beget more restaurateurs, a place where family and immigration isn’t a random mingling of bloodlines, but a concrete strategy in the business plan. Meli Café (301 South Halsted), a fantastic breakfast and lunch spot, and the newest addition to the Halsted strip, serves as the perfect business case. More »

12.20.06

Corned Beef Worth Mooning Over

Restaurant Reviews


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There’s often an inverse proportion between the dinginess of a restaurant and the quality of the food. Moon’s Sandwich Shop, 16 S. Western, with its faded sign, rickety accordion style security bars and patchwork brickwork, confirms this rule. More »

12.11.06

Get Sum

Restaurant Reviews


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As a kid, dim sum always seemed like ambrosia for the erudite. Growing up, it was a vague magical Chinese food term that conjured professorial characters bedecked in corduroy, or socially liberal urbanites living in Herman Miller mid-century-style-furnished salons receiving spa-like facials from steaming noodle bowls. Little did I know that the humble egg roll on which I’d gorged a thousand times in my suburban Detroit blue-collar youth was the most basic form of this ancient pleasure. More »

11.09.06

This Cow Don’t Moo

Restaurant Reviews


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I like it animal style–my burger that is.

Whenever I get off the plane in L.A., I go straight to the nearest In-N-Out Burger and order up a mustard-cooked beef patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, extra “spread” and grilled onions, or as it’s billed on In-N-Out’s “secret menu”–”animal style.” (The secret menu, which is actually available on the Web site, is the worst-kept secret since Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s White House tryst.) More »

11.06.06

Tapeworm Tour 2006

Restaurant Reviews


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lumpia mini-mart

Shanghai Lumpia from Uni-Mart

For the last three years, I’ve woken up on an October Sunday to constant wailing, throbbing drumbeats and clanging cowbells. Somehow my realtor forgot to mention that my condo was located right off the Chicago Marathon course. More »

10.11.06

Reflections in the Pond

Restaurant Reviews


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north pond

Photo: Tuan Bui

I’m no culinary Luddite. In the last year, I’ve eaten and relished bacon ice cream, tortilla foam, Rice Krispies with strawberry Pop Rocks, pineapple sponge, Dover sole with dehydrated banana powder and a chocolate-raspberry-and-foie-gras milkshake. More »

10.01.06

Cantu Can Do

Restaurant Reviews


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surfturf

One Incarnation of Surf and Turf, Moto Style

As I headed for Moto, my expectations were high, which worried me a little. Granted, Chef Homaro Cantu had been getting a lot of notice, but I have discovered over time that often, hype is just “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” More »

09.23.06

Don’t Fritter Away this Opportunity

Restaurant Reviews


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apple fritter

Life might be a journey, but sublime food is a destination, and there’s no better destination than the apple fritter at Old Fashioned Donut. People always ask “what’s the best?”, and the answer is usually a subjective handful of choices. Consider it a lock, like the Daley administrations over the last half century, the Old Fashioned apple fritter is the best. These deep fried and super icing slathered concoctions make Krispy Kreme look like the health food section at Whole Foods. Most apple fritters should be called cinnamon spiced donuts, because if you’re lucky they might have one chunk of apple. The fritters at old fashioned are dotted with toothsume hunks and an orchard’s worth of apple perfume. More »

09.20.06

Morning Glory

Restaurant Reviews


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hash brown

The hashbrowns platter at Hashbrown’s

The early morning crowd gathered outside Nookies on Halsted looks like a Boystown rave. I’ve watched people read most of the Sunday New York Times while waiting for a seat at Wicker Park’s Bongo Room. Forget Alinea or Schwa, everyone knows the toughest table in town is Sunday breakfast. More »

09.19.06

Something Extra Special

Restaurant Reviews


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etoufee

Etouffée and all the trimmings at Lagniappe

Before it was settled in the nineteenth century, the South Side neighborhood of Auburn Gresham was once flat swampy land. This might explain why some of the best Cajun Creole cooking outside of the arid Louisiana bayou can be found at Lagniappe restaurant on the corner of West 79th and Justine. More »

09.13.06

Battle Lobster Roll

Restaurant Reviews


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red eats lobster roll

Red’s Eat’s Lobster Roll

Mid-nineties songwriter Juliana Hatfield, whose tune “Spin the Bottle” anchored the Reality Bites soundtrack and Maine’s best lobster rolls have one thing in common: They’re both from Wiscasset, Maine.

Unlike Hatfield, who’s undoubtedly the only major songwriter to hail from the sleepy mid-coastal Maine village, there are plenty of roadside stands and seaside shacks serving up lobster rolls. Hungry magazine stopped at two of the best. More »

09.12.06

Postcard from Salt Lake City

Restaurant Reviews


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crown burgers

Quick, name a regional specialty for northern Utah?

Okay, besides skiing and beautiful vistas of the Wasatch Mountains. Chances are, the culinary peaks of the Salt Lake Valley elude most of us. In fact, talk to most people, and Salt Lake comes off as a cultural and culinary wasteland. Maybe that’s why coming across an example of American fast food greatness in Utah felt and tasted so good. More »

09.05.06

Big Max Attacks

Restaurant Reviews


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big max

Max’s Ghetto Fries

Chicago is the land of the obese, the corporate home of McDonald’s, purveyor of deep dish pizza, slinger of fat Vienna franks, and yet we still cede our title of supreme imperial culinary hedonism to Quebec by not adopting poutine, a cholesterol bomb of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. More »

08.28.06

Modern Comfort

Restaurant Reviews


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jibarito

The Jibarito from Borinquen Lounge

It took ethnic comfort food to make me forsake my own mother, but, Puerto Rican jibaritos (hi-bar-itoes)–deep fried plantain sandwiches–and Vietnamese pho (fuh)–beef tendon soup–have displaced her chicken noodle and grilled bologna and cheese in my personal comfort-food pantheon. If you ever saw my mom tenderize a recalcitrant pork chop or bring the gleaming business end of her Wusthof cleaver to bear on bloody tenderloin, you’d know that I’m betting a whole lot on the notion that the mother and son bond will keep me safe. More »

08.22.06

Red Sauce Reminiscence

Restaurant Reviews


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gnocchi

Gennaro’s Gnocchi

Gennaro’s is the kind of restaurant no one writes about until it closes.

It’s not the oldest restaurant in the city, it doesn’t have liquor license number one, they don’t dip the Italian sausage in liquid nitrogen and the interior doesn’t look like a Frank Gehry dream of imploding stainless steel. It’s just an old red-sauce emporium in Little Italy whose stoop is darkened by the shadow of the ABLA power-plant tower and the crumbling remains of Jane Addams Homes. More »

07.27.06

Still Smoking

Restaurant Reviews


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This article first appeared in Newcity Chicago

boti

Chicken Boti at Khan BBQ

Khan BBQ was a smoky dingy cabbie joint, with cracked ceramic tile, red plastic bench seating bolted to the floor ala Kentucky Fried Chicken circa 1985, and no air conditioning. On a swampy summer day, with the clay tandoor ovens at full charcoal flame, the solitary rickety general-issue floor fan blew more hot air than a Chicago alderman and offered little relief. A year ago, when I first entered the restaurant, an old man with a prodigious white beard took one look, calculated me as a Devon Street day-tripper, nodded towards Hema’s Kitchen across the street, and said “our food is very spicy.” More »

07.14.06

Beyond the Gut Bomb (Loop Lunch Alternatives)

Restaurant Reviews


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quesa

Spa Cafe’s Steak Quesanini

This article first appeared in the Chicago Journal

The modern workday is a Sisyphean collection of personal trials. It starts out with you walking bleary-eyed across the rust-colored iron trusses of the Chicago River bridges, or sweltering in overpacked el cars dodging errant briefcases.

Then there’s the descent into the cubicle, the modern sensory deprivation chamber, a fabric box of Post-it Notes and push pins. This is where you spend your first work hour, checking whether the Cubs finally won a game, flipping through the digital New York Times, or reading the latest blog rant in a state of paranoia reserved for citizens of socialist dictatorial regimes. It’s only a matter of moments before your boss arrives with ridiculous demands. More »

06.28.06

The Last Meal on Earth

Restaurant Reviews, Travel


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au pied

Deep fried foie gras.

Deep fried foie gras.

Deep fried foie gras.

Two weeks after eating at in Montreal, this is the phrase that still flutters in the back of my consciousness. I can’t get it out of my head. Yeah, sure they deep fry everything nowadays, Snickers bars, Twinkies, pizza, and tacos, but who the hell is foolhardy enough to deep fry something like fattened duck liver? That’s like deep frying pure fat. More »

06.25.06

Hot Bagels and Polish Jokes

Restaurant Reviews, Travel


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bagel

Historically, the Polish have not fared well at the hand of comedians. We rate somewhere above blondes and just below the Irish as a mocked collective. As a first generation Pole, I regularly suffered jokes and challenges to my intellect. I often responded that Copernicus, Chopin, and Marie Curie were Polish, and that any nation that spawned such cultural icons must have something going for it. More »


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