This week in Food & Drink: Key Ingredient Abalone, Roka Akor, Tribute, and more | Bleader

This week in Food & Drink: Key Ingredient Abalone, Roka Akor, Tribute, and more


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Bruschetta with abalone and bone marrow

In Key Ingredient Rob Levitt (Mado, the Butcher & Larder) tackles abalone—which took him three purveyors to find—pairing it with bone marrow in a bruschetta that also features chiles, radish, fennel, and parsley. "You get a little hot, a little cold, a little land, a little sea, animal, vegetable—we can put the shell on for some mineral," he joked. Next up is Jason Vincent of Nightwood, working with duck tongues.

Mike Sula reviews Roka Akor, the latest neo-Japanese spot to hit River North. Despite its being a chain, he finds it leading the pack, offering Asian-accented ribs, chops, and seafood off the blazing robata grill, plus premium steaks akin to what you’d find at a downtown steak house—and about as pricey. Another trait Roka Akor shares with expense-account destinations: steep upgrades like $14 for truffle shaved over a humble mushroom hot pot.

Kristina Meyer reviews Tribute, in the South Loop’s Essex Hotel, where former sous chef Lawrence Letrero—promoted to executive chef when Brandon Baltzley decamped for a stay in rehab—seems to be struggling to fill his shoes, offering a contemporary American menu that misfires with dishes like a beet and smoked trout salad, served without the trout.

In the listings are 11 more restaurants in the South Loop, among them Cafecito, which Sula says has the best damn Cuban sandwiches in town, and Epic Burger, which now has additional locations in Lincoln Park and the West Loop.

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