Chicago, IL


I'd eat a bald eagle and manatee sandwich if it weren't illegal.

Menu:Recent Reviews

Whiskey then beer, you’re in the clear…

Restaurant: Longman & Eagle
Eureka, I’ve found the brown liquor elixir epicenter! At L&E there is whiskey abound and a page-and-a-half list of bourbon choices varying from the run-of-the-mill to the “grand cru” of burnt barrel aged goodness… and I haven’t even hit the beer page yet! Mommy likey! Libations aside, the restaurant is dark and packed with bodies. There is an energetic vibe, and the tiny open kitchen cranks out plates of meat-centric dishes (but I did spot a vegetarian menu floating around). Some were amazing, like the ½ chicken (sous vide then crisped to order over mac-n-cheese with morels), the sweetbread “reuben,” the duck liver pate, and the pig face topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Others were a bit too much, like the shrimp and grits (the black pepper sauce was crazy strong, and although I could see the shrimp, I couldn’t taste them), and the Baked Pretzel with Welsh rarebit cheese (which was so salty my cheeks puckered). All-in-all, L&E presents inventive, good food and great ingredients, all at a fair price.



Half chicken, sweetbread reuben, pig face.

Holy Cojones, Estrella Grande!

Restaurant: Big Star
Despite the noise, the hype, and the hipsters, I'm totally smitten. After a beer, a $3 shot of whiskey, and splitting a Sonoran hot dog four-ways, I was all a-glow. Upon polishing off a "taco flight" (one of each of the 4) I had a full belly and big stars in my eyes. Solid, good, fresh, and tasty food - all at a great price.



Sonoran Hot Dog, Tacos: Pastor, Panza, Ejotes, Pescado, and the guac.

Billet doux (a short love letter)

Restaurant: Next
As tempting as it is, I will not delve into the “Next concept” here, as that information is readily available (and very well explained) elsewhere. This is all about the experience. With that said, I am honored and excited to be the first Mafioso to review Next (Paris 1906). As the title indicates, the following is more of a love letter than a "review." From the moment we entered Next until the doors (at The Aviary) closed behind us, the experience was an exercise in perfection. Perfection, as I use the word here, contemplates both its objective and subjective components. Objectively, the food, the flavors, the plating, and the wine pairings were spot-on, flawless, and literally by the book (Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire). The impeccable execution of Escoffier’s recipes and the gorgeous plates are precisely what one would expect from the juggernaut of a chef that is Grant Achatz and his uber-talented protégée David Beran. I have said before that you can taste it when there is love in the food. At Next, not only could I taste the love, I could taste respect, honor, and reverence for the “father of modern French cuisine.” Subjectively, this is where it gets interesting... The experience we were given was exactly what we wanted, without knowing what we wanted. It sounds weird, but the closest thing I can compare it to is falling in love. We knew after the first course that we were totally smitten with Next, and the staff showed us that our feelings were reciprocated. (I won’t give away their secret, but they will know who you are when you walk in the door, to an uncanny degree, and I’m a nobody). As such, the experience is not one-size-fits-all, instead it is crafted to fit you (and like your mother told you, you are special). Every single person who visited our table (and there were about 12 of them) made it personal. Each was warm, engaging, and genuine, and made me feel like a pretty-pretty princess (my #1 criteria). At the same time, they sensed that we are laid-back and like to have fun, so the wine came a-flowing, the jokes got going, and the love kept growing. Hands down, best service ever. Finally, please remember all things worth having are worth fighting for. Calmly repeat this mantra while you are furiously clicking "refresh" in an attempt to score tickets. It will happen, you will get in someday, and no matter the incarnation of Next, I am confident that the food will be amazing and that you will be made to feel like a pretty-pretty princess. J'aime après!



Tasting menu.

"Trust me, my father's a doctor."

Restaurant: DMK Burger Bar
The DMK menu boasts exceptional quality, grass-fed beef, fresh baked buns, artisan cheeses + LOVE. As any Chef worth his salt will tell you, love is the most important (and mutable) ingredient, and yes, you can taste it in the food. The integrity and purity of the ingredients here are transcending. I had a fit of speculative nostalgia upon tasting the #7 (The Big DMK) thinking "I bet this is what a Big Mac would have tasted like in the 1950's" (before CAFOs and Monsanto). Similarly, Rufus Teague's smokey BBQ sauce on the #1 transported me back to summer cookouts in Asheville, NC. This is good, simple, and honest food. "Order a double, go ahead, Kornick says it's ok. Trust me, my father's a doctor." (from the mural on the ladies restroom wall).



Start at #1, go from there. Repeat as necessary.

And I saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

Restaurant: Franks 'N' Dawgs
Sweet gentle Jesus this place is good! Kudos to owner Alex Brunacci and chef Joe Doren for putting five-star dining on a bun, then in my belly. I am totally smitten with the N'awlins Dawg (andouille sausage, polenta battered okra, fried shrimp, spicy ketchup & chives) and the Lyonnaise Fries (hand cut fries, braised pig cheek, arugula, poached egg & a dijon mustard vinaigrette). My dining partner was equally wooed (and blissfully comatose) after braving a "holy trinity" comprised of the Ruben Pulaski (Polish sausage, sauerkraut, whole seed mustard, 1000 island dressing, potato cake & chives) the Le Merguez (lamb merguez sausage, pear chutney, Stilton cheese, black pepper greek yogurt, sumac, toasted pistachios & mint) and Tripple Truffle Fries. Amen! On my "to do" list: Burger Dawg, Brunch Dawg, Tur-Doggin, Truffle Mac-n-cheese Brat, and the Franks 'n' Beans (if I can muster the maturity to order it without doing an impression of Warren from "There's Something About Mary").



N'awlins Dog, Ruben Pulaski, Le Merguez, Tripple Truffle Fries, Lyonnaise Fries



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