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It's a cliche, but there's truth in this: In doing less, Son of a Butcher could do much more.
Ixcateco Grill Anselmo Ramirez has some serious culinary cred.
Johnny's Grill Last we saw Sarah Jordan, she was creating memorable desserts at the short-lived Cicchetti restaurant.
In August, she took over a venerable Logan Square diner (keeping the name), expanded into the floral shop next door and started cranking out — well, I suppose "Irish diner food" sums it up as well as anything.
The end of the year approaches, and we find ourselves with a folder full of places that we intended to evaluate (and we may get to some of these next year).
For now, here are capsule reviews (no star ratings yet) of places that caught our collective eye. They are inclusive one-biters, generally inexpensive — if one tastes bad, you're already on to the next toothpick.
The alluring spaghetti with duck Bolognese and duck egg was unbearably salty; the veggie casserole served in a hollowed butternut squash was a dense mass of starch and cinnamon spicing.
Brightly colored walls may grab your attention, but the equally bright flavors on his 11-item dinner menu will have you scooping up every bit with warm, housemade tortillas. And if black mole with lamb chops is on special, it's a must-order.
Seafood towers come in "Semi-Pro" and "Baller" sizes, steak sauces are listed as "arm candy" (a wry reference to its Gold Coast location?
) and there's a chef's-choice option whose title we can't print.
Montaditos are open-faced toasts topped with delicately creamy scrambled eggs and salmon roe, or a top-notch chicken liver mousse with sherry-glazed pearl onions.
The real winners are the bocadillo sandwiches (hat tip goes to Evanston's Hewn bakery) filled with garlicked pork sausage and mustard, and the surprising standout, one stuffed with white corn meal-fried calamari and saffron aioli. Community Tavern Chicago has an abundance of steakhouses, but they cluster together, downtown and in River North, like members of the same wolf pack.
Of course, sweets are a must, whether it's a housemade version of Pop-Tarts, the daily doughnut or the fried, sugar-dusted brioche beignet with coffee."I'm having a blast," Jordan said.