kevinj | Chicago Reader

Recent Reviews

Re: “Quartino

Got off early from work and decided to get some Neapolitan-style pizza. After rejecting La Madia and Osteria for rather bland offerings, I chose Quartino. They seated me in the bar, where it appears lunch is served. The place looks great, but not much else can be recommended here.

I ordered the octopus appetizer. Tentacles around a small mound of braised escarole with garlic and a sliver of fresh hot pepper. It tasted great, but the serving size for $9 was a bit light, mainly due to the fact that I received the equivalent of 2.5 octopi the size normally associated with fried calamiri.

The pizza was a disappointment. Under red sauce & mozzarella were, supposedly, pancetta and roasted potatoes, all topped with shavings of Grana Padana. First off, the crust had very little chew and, mainly, a lot of crunch. The potatoes tasted nonexistent. The only evidence that pancetta was even in the vicinity was the pink color of the meat. They should've named it "Grana Padana" pie, if only for the overabundance of said cheese grated all over creation.

I'm thoroughly convinced that the only places for Napoli-style pizza in Chicago are Spaccanapoli and Trattoria DOC in Evanston. Every other place, including Quartino, just pales in comparison.

Don't bother with Quartino.

Posted by Kevin Bilbro on 03/03/2008 at 3:14 PM

Re: “Smoque

We went back to Smoque after a few months absence, me for only the second time. We each ordered chooped brisket, with cole slaw, cornbread & baked beans. All were excellent, as always.

We also split a half chicken. I believe many people are missing out on a great choice by concentrating on all of the other dishes. The chicken is smoked, not just grilled and rubbed with sauce, like Chicawgo-style bbq. And, it didn't taste dry, which it easily can.

Overall, it's a great value, too. Where else can one eat brisket in this town. While it's not quite the same or as good as Texas-style brisket (I am from there, and my parents live near Austin), which is smoked longer and at lower heat, Smoque is a great addition to Chicago.

Posted by Kevin Bilbro on 02/26/2008 at 2:25 PM

Re: “Crisp

We received a warm greeting from one of the owners when we walked in. We ordered 2 chicken halves, one plain, the other with a soy-based sauce, a beef & vegetable bowl, and some dumplings. The chicken was very tasty, especially with the Seoul Sauce. The beef bowl had crunchy vegetables, beef, and brown rice. This was a great combination of flavors. The steak and bleu cheese dumplings were good, too, though they were out of the sausage variety. Very similar to the Korean Mandoo we'd had before.

Everything we ate was great, and we'll be back for more.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Kevin Bilbro on 02/11/2008 at 3:18 PM

Re: “Risque Cafe

We stopped in on a Saturday at 3:45 in the afternoon. Only one table was occupied, and no food was visible. Little did we know this would be an omen of things to come. We ordered brisket, a sausage platter, barbecued bacon, and some sides. After two minutes the server informed us that they were out of brisket and they were just putting some on. So we ordered some ribs to replace the brisket. After two more minutes she informed us that the barbecued bacon (spelled "bacan" on the menu) was not available. My partner said "that's enough, let's go", and we left.

How can a restaurant be out of an item (the brisket) when the place has only been open for about four hours? And why print menus with an item that isn't being served? Plus, for a barbeque joint, there was a noticeable lack of a smoky smell in the dining room. The waitress had little to say except "I'm sorry" when we complained. I knew going in that things weren't going so well at this restaurant, based on a few posts at, but they still got a few good reviews. Little did I know that they rang truer than expected.

Avoid this place!

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Kevin Bilbro on 02/11/2008 at 3:10 PM

Re: “Silver Seafood

We saw this recently on Check Please, and went back for the first time in 2 or so years. We started with Hot & Sour Seafood Soup. My only quibble was with the hot and sour, which was lacking. Everything else, especially all of the seafood (shrimp, scallops, crab) was great.

For entrees, we had Shrimp & Scallop Birds Nest, Fish w/Scallions, and Salt & Spice Crab. The first had plump pieces of seafood in a fried potato nest. While it was a bit bland (no spice, but this is Cantonese), the seafood was fresh and expertly cooked, which is most important. The fish dish was simple but perfect. The freshness was very apparent. The crab dish was good, too. Surprisingly, not too salty. While messy, it still made for great eating.

For great Chinese-style seafood, you can't go wrong with Silver Seafood.

Posted by Kevin Bilbro on 02/05/2008 at 9:09 AM

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