Friday, January 18, 2008

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

Fahrenheit (1890 W. Main St., St. Charles, 630-444-1350). "Culinary sleight-of-hand, deconstructed sauces and clouds of foam are commonplace at this Far West suburban restaurant, featuring chef Peter Balodimas in partnership with his father, Chris. Despite the dramatic flourishes, Balodimas' food succeeds primarily on its approachable nature; he generally applies his whimsy to such comfort-food staples as pork belly and veal chop. Do save room for dessert, when Balodimas is at his artistic best. Recommended: Buttermilk-fried quail, 'clam chowder,' venison chop, lamb shoulder, 'PB & J' dessert."—Phil Vettel (Chicago Tribune)

The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel (108 E. Superior St., 312-573-6760). "Classic lunch fare includes two hamburgers—sirloin ($20) or Kobe beef ($29)—with superb fried potato spears (think french fries on steroids) served in a silver mint julep cup. Also on the sandwich front, shredded duck and aged white cheddar replace the usual ham and Swiss in a delectable play on a croque monsieur ($20), although it could have benefited from a little less hoisin sauce and more cheese."—Alison Neumer Lara (Crain’s Chicago Business)

Prosecco (710 N. Wells St., 312-951-9500). "Diver scallops stuffed with braised short rib suffered from a serious lack of punch, and while the stuffing in the Cornish game hen was delicious (porcini mushrooms and black truffles), the quail itself was a tough, bland disappointment. That left the rich, ricotta-enriched cavatelli to steal the show—which, paired as it was with toothsome shrimp, it absolutely would have; but a complimentary postdinner pour of sparkly, sweet Brachetto swept in and stole it instead."—David Tamarkin (Time Out Chicago)

Sabai-Dee (5359 N. Broadway, 773-506-0880). "Similar to northern Thai Issan cuisine, it’s supposed to be spicier than its neighbor’s, and though owner Kevin Wong tones down his red and green coconut milk curries, on request he’ll doctor orders to their appropriately nuclear levels. Floating with fall-off-the-bone chicken or pork and tender vegetables, these stews are meant to be eaten with sticky rice or rice vermicelli. There’s also a pa lo stew, boiled eggs and firm tofu in a thin soy-based broth, with or without fatty chunks of pork belly, and a deep, nourishing pho with beef and meatballs."—Mike Sula (Chicago Reader)