JenniferRoche | Chicago Reader

Recent Reviews

Re: “Lula Cafe

Went to celebrate my birthday after reading all the hoopla and must say I'm down with Ira Glass and the others here who said this place is a standout. Ginger carrot soup was just the thing for a frigid January night. Wild mushroom quesadillas were solid and made stronger by the spicy sour cream/tomato sauce accompaniment. Moroccan tangine (like a stew) with chick peas, squash and cinnamon was warmly flavorful and served over couscous. My husband's lamb was delicious and tender, and the accompanying roasted potatoes were notable. Ambience was cool and crowded in a good way because tables are so close together you need the vibe to keep from eavesdropping and being eavesdropped on throughout the meal. Will say our waitressed seemed depressed, but we wanted to take the bus staff home with us they were so warm and kind. Woke up this a.m. discussing when we could go back.

Posted by Jennifer Roche on 01/15/2005 at 2:56 PM

Re: “Joy Yee's Noodles

The fact that the place is cramped, packed and bustling is one of its attributes that kind of grows on you if you visit often enough. Love the "Vietnamese Sample Platter C." Bright decor. Fast service and turnover. Great food.

Posted by Jennifer Roche on 01/20/2004 at 5:24 PM

Re: “California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen finally came to my neighborhood, and I must say it beats McDonalds when seeking lunch options with a cranky three-year-old.

As you'd expect, the menu and fare are identical to the other restaurants in this chain. I found the chicken dumpling appetizers to be especially good -- lightweight and flavorful, but the Singapore rolls were a bit disappointing. The dipping sauce was somewhat vinegary and it seemed they used lo mein noodles rather than rice noodles inside the roll. (Maybe I'm wrong on that.) I will say the shrimp in the roll tasted fresh. The Sicilian pizza was generously sized and decent-tasting.

They cater to children (i.e. crayons, drawing paper, kids menu), and our noise seemed to be absorbed into the open room. Free parking with 2 hour validation.

Posted by Jennifer Roche on 01/20/2004 at 5:19 PM

Re: “Sapori Trattoria

First, the decor is great. Little white lights, dark walls/ceiling, white table cloths - and notably fabulous music playing in the background. Kind of neighborhoody elegant.

This was my second trip back, and I couldn't figure out why I waited so long to get back. It was such a satisfying dining experience both times.

Our waiter (who I think was the owner, and if not, sure treated us as if he was) was warm and attentive. Our Tilapia Marsalla was fresh, generously apportioned and richly flavorful. The pasta romantica with chopped chicken and mushrooms had a velvety, wonderful texture. Both were served on the largest plates I've ever seen that weren't serving platters. Large salads, too.

Good house chianti and great, hard-crusted bread. Lots of cinnamon on the tiramisu. Mmmmm.

Posted by Jennifer Roche on 01/20/2004 at 4:58 PM

Re: “Topolobampo

My husband and I went to celebrate a birthday and a promotion, so we splurged and treated ourselves to the five-course dinner ($75 per person) with accompanying tasting wines (at $35 per person). We were so glad we did.

The courses were interesting, elegantly flavored and balanced, and the wines were superbly matched. We started with a complimentary guacamole appetizer served with a light-tasting radish and cucumber slices for dipping. Then came the first course of a goat cheese salad with pears and a peppery seasoning followed by a lobster bisque soup that was anything but routine.

The two entree servings were Alaskan Black Cod and a pork tenderloin, each fixed with a complex blend of seasonings. The former was served with rice on a banana leaf.

My only complaint is that these two entrees weren't highly differentiated in my mind with regard to the flavorings. Peppers are big at Topolobampo, but I was unable to discern the subtlties of the different ones by the fourth course. (Of course, it could have been the wines, too!)

Dessert (fifth course) was an attractive, small assortment of sherbert, meringue type tart, and a cheesecake with pistachios. I was a little disappointed that there was nothing chocolate, but that is quibbling for sure.

If you drink and you order the five course dinner, I absolutely recommend you go ahead with the tasting wine menu as well. We have little knowledge about how to choose wines for pairing with food beyond white = fish, red = meat, and it absolutely raised our culinary enjoyment to experience the juxtaposition of the wines chosen for each course.

A lovely, lovely night with friendly, efficient service. If you get the chance I hope you can go splurge, too.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jennifer Roche on 01/15/2004 at 7:33 PM

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