- Alison Green
- City Tavern's outstanding fried chicken, best eaten quickly
The South Loop's City Tavern
, Mike Sula finds, is conceived to make you think, "Hey, I'm an early American colonist!" Even the cocktails—Fishhouse Punch, a rum punch, etc—are inspired by pre-Revolutionary models. So what's chef Kendal Duque, who made a splash with Sepia
a few years back, doing here? His signature flatbreads, for one, along with a widely cast net of a menu that includes sandwiches, charcuterie, entrees, and more entrees, the last from the grill. The fare is heavy, hearty stuff befitting a hoisted tankard: steak and ale pie, brussels sprouts with pork belly, simple standouts such as fried chicken and a mushroom-stuffed whole trout. But the most interesting items, in Sula's reckoning, are the rum-focused cocktails: light, refreshing, guzzleable, in all far more suited to the hottest month on record
in the continental U.S.
In Key Ingredient, Perennial Virant pastry chef Elissa Narow, challenged with the Mexican delicacy huitlacoche, or corn smut, struggled to turn it into a palatable, eye-pleasing dessert. The result, huitlacoche-white chocolate cheesecake, was tasty enough but, well, as Narow put it, "one of the things to get over is the color, because [huitlacoche] cooks black, so my dessert's gray. . . . It's really off-putting." Next up is Ray Stanis of Nellcote, working with mochiko, the sweet rice flour used in Asian noodles and mochi.