Mike Sula reviews GT Fish & Oyster, the River North restaurant from the Boka group that highlights the cooking of Giuseppe Tentori (who remains executive chef at Boka as well), from the simple and classic—a lobster roll, clam chowder, crab cakes—to the distinctive and challenging—taro chips served with haddock dip, chorizo-stuffed squid on a bed of saffron rice, a primordial-looking dish of squid-ink gnocchi and fiddlehead. He’s ably assisted by a crack team that includes pastry chef Kady Yon and mixologist Benjamin Schiller, who coincidentally is also featured in this week’s Cocktail Challenge, working a three-way with fresh seaweed. Next up is Sepia mixologist Joshua Pearson, who’s been challenged with propolis, an aromatic resin used bees as a sealant (Schiller says his mom has a few organic hives out in Batavia).
In Key Ingredient Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s is challenged by Mexique’s Carlos Gaytan with chicken feet, which he simmered till tender, then peeled and deep-fried, using them as a garnish for a spicy Thai chicken sausage with sriracha mustard and sesame seaweed salad. Next up is Barry Sorkin of Smoque, working with Vienna Beef hot dogs. “I could have gotten something more obscure,” Sohn said, "but it was like, I want to see someone else do something with a hot dog or sausage besides what we do.”
In Dispatches contributor Anne Spiselman reports on Ludwig Farmstead Creamery in downstate Fithian, where world-traveling cheese meister Fons Smits is producing raw cow’s milk cheeses from his herd of 90 prize-winning pedigree Holsteins. Smits says he hopes to have his cheeses—which include Gouda, Havarti, and a German-style butterkase—available at Chicago farmers’ markets and specialty stores later this month; you can also buy them online.
Scraps reports on a May 18 dinner and discussion North Pond chef Bruce Sherman is hosting for Rowan Jacobsen, whose book Shadows on the Gulf: A Journey Through Our Last Great Wetland came out last week, plus the closing of Andersonville’s Pasticceria Natalina later this month, and Francesca’s jefe Scott Harris’s latest plans for expansion.
In the listings are restaurants notable for their cheese programs, among them Harris’s DiSotto Enoteca, Lincoln Square’s Fork (formerly Fiddlehead Cafe), and Oak Park’s Marion Street Cheese Market Cafe, one of the venues where Smits plans to shop his cheeses.