Friday, May 16, 2008

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

Big Jones (5347 N. Clark St., 773-275-5725): "When a plate of impeccably cooked shrimp doused in a dark, thick barbecue sauce arrives, and it’s so good you consider chewing on the crunchy tails just to make it last, authenticity is the last thing on your mind. The same is true of the tasso ham sandwich, a picture of warm decadence where the house-cured ham provides a salty note, the cakey house-baked 'Sally Lunn' bread adds a sweet note, and the gooey pimento cheese and shrimp rĂ©moulade glues it all together."—David Tamarkin (Time Out Chicago) Read the review here.

Green Zebra (1460 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-7100) and Schwa (1466 N. Ashland Ave., 773-252-1466): "I can never resist the poached egg at (Green Zebra), hefty Prospera Farms egg that has been presented in various guises over the years. Currently the softly cooked egg sits on a slab of toasted sourdough bread, above hickory-smoked pureed potatoes. The smoky aroma conveys the sense of bacon, thus making the dish a de facto egg, bacon and toast breakfast. It's very clever . . . . My last meal (at Schwa)included lime curd topped with shaved truffle and a touch of salt, presented atop an ice cube that was actually solid glass. This was followed by a shooter glass of beet juice, flavored with bacon, alongside a roasted beet filled with grated chocolate, and an amazing demitasse of beer-cheese soup next to a teensy pretzel roll and what looked like a Parmesan tuile but turned out to be a crispy sheet of mustard skin. Carlson's pad Thai conveys all the flavors of the Thai national dish, but look closely; instead of noodles, the strands on the plate are of painstakingly marinated jellyfish."—Phil Vettel (Chicago Tribune) Read the review here.

Trattoria Isabella (217 N. Jefferson St., 312-207-1900): "Ultra-rich risotto alla Siciliana ($12.95) is perfectly cooked in light red sauce with bits of fennel-flavored sausage, tri-colored peppers and Parmigiano-Reggiano. You'll love it, but expect to take some home."—Laura Bianchi (Crain's Chicago Business) Read the review here.