Pour House Midway



*** (3 stars)

Well it’s an airport restaurant, so the bar is low.

As in the previous incarnation it’s basically a bar with food coming from the adjacent counter service restaurant.

Food is pretty good. I had the BLT and it was fresh and had very flavorful bacon.

Service is nice enough, but not what you’d call energized.

Surprisingly limited beer selections for a place called the Pour House.

Pour House Midway
5700 S Cicero Ave
Concourse A
Gate A5
Chicago, IL
(773) 948-6308

Blu 57 Seafood & Small Plates



Truffle tuna tar tar

Crab cake


Brussels sprouts

Squid ink pasta

Shrimp bombs

Red curry elotes


Mango mousse

**** (4 stars)

This is a charming small restaurant in a quiet section of Andersonville. It focuses on seafood, with a touch of Thai.

Appetizers are a good way to explore the menu here, and we tried most of them.

By far the best thing we had was the Truffle tuna tar tar. The scent of truffle was certainly there, but the thing that made it outstanding was the complex combination of spicy and citrus flavors and interesting tender and crunchy textures.

Seared scallops in curry were also good, and the crab cake was one of the best I’ve had, with a spicy kick and crusty outside.

Mussels were a disappointment. They seemed fishy, and we didn’t finish them.

Shrimp bombs were probably the most typically Thai dish, with a bite of minced shrimp mixture in a deep fried wanton purse. They were okay, but probably not worth the price for what was essentially three bites.

Squid ink pasta was a very substantial plate of dense, black pasta with rings of calamari. You will look like a goth after eating this dish!

Brussels sprouts was an okay side dish, nothing remarkable about them, and not much of the promised maple syrup flavoring.

Red curry elotes was definitely a Thai-spice-level take on this traditional street corn.

For dessert we finished with the mango mousse and tiramisu. The tiramisu was the better of the two, but wasn’t like what you’re picturing. Instead it is a dome with a chocolate crust encasing Thai iced tea flavored mousse.

Service was good, particularly considering that our server and her trainee were handling the entire restaurant.

Note that it is BYOB, and the liquor store across the street has incredibly poor taste in wine. Best to bring your own.

Blu 57 Seafood & Small Plates
5701 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 944-0575

The Little Beet Table


Cauliflower hummus

Roasted Brussels sprouts

Madras curry almonds

Chick pea Caesar with grilled lettuce

Crispy rice

***** (5 stars)

If you’ve ever wanted to win someone over to vegetarian food, this is the place to do it. While there are many non-vegetarian offerings on the menu, the vegetarian dishes are so flavorful it’s hard to imagine anyone not liking them.

What’s amazing is that most of the recipes are fairly simple, but there is a depth to the flavors that is impressive.

We started with madras curry almonds, which were nicely toasted, slightly spicy, and slightly sweet.

Roasted Brussel sprouts were simply prepared, perfectly tender yet charred, and bursting with flavor.

The standout dish was definitely the cauliflower hummus. A simple mix of tahini and lemon oil, with some seeds on top, this was amazingly flavorful, the best hummus I’ve ever had. The accompanying grilled pitas (how can these be gluten-free?) were also stellar.

Crispy rice was essentially a mini dolsot bibimbap. The sunnyside up egg and sriracha sauce elevated this dish.

Least impressive but just fine was the chickpea Caesar, the only dish where the combined ingredients didn’t rise above their individual sums.

Service was enthusiastic, and the ambiance is cool without being annoying.

The Little Beet Table
845 N State St
Ste 101
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 549-8600

Little Goat Diner



Last Word

Okonomiyaki (Pronounced Yum)

Tempura Mashed Potato

One Twisted Sundae (Pretzel ice cream)

**** (4 stars)

Sitting at the counter watching the frenzied chefs in the kitchen cranking out perfect dish after perfect dish is a lot like watching an episode of Top Chef. But it’s also a lot like being in a tile box with 150 people screaming to be heard… because that’s exactly what it is.

Somewhere along the line restaurant designers decided that people wanted to eat in a loud environment because it made them feel like they were in a happening scene. They achieved this by not bothering to hire acoustic engineers. But even an authentic diner doesn’t have that kind of ambiance. It’s a place where you can hear the rattle of cutlery, and the waitress chatting up the regulars. There’s certainly no chance of that here.

But the food is wonderful. Each dish is Stephanie Izard’s take on traditional cuisine, with her own twists. And those twists are exceptional.

Okonomiyaki is a wonderful Japanese breakfast pancake/egg dish with a delicious combination of savory sauces and crunchy bits to add texture.

Tempura fried mashed potatoes are light, with a perfectly crisp and not oily shell.

And One Twisted Sundae is a decadent sweet/salty combination of pretzel ice cream, caramel sauce, and whipped cream.

There are an interesting cocktail menu and a limited selection of beer and wine, but if you want to go authentic you can choose from fountain drinks, shakes and floats.

I guess the service is good. I couldn’t hear well enough to tell.

Little Goat Diner
820 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 888-3455

Gibsons Italia




Chef’s Crudo Selection

Lettuce and herb salad with Meyer Lemon vinaigrette (off menu item)

New York Strip Bone-In

Grilled Romanesco

Grilled asparagus


Good view, rain or shine

***** (5 stars)

The original Gibson’s is a good restaurant, but this one is a great restaurant. Every element of my meal was about as close to perfection as I can expect from a steakhouse. Of the dozens of steakhouses I’ve tried in Chicago, it was clearly the best.

Of course, there is the view, perhaps the best in the city, looking out at the junction of the Chicago River. And the room itself is also gorgeous. It’s on the third floor, with a bar on the floor below.

The service was also impressive. Not only were the waiters professional and friendly, but they were genuine hosts, with several of them stopping by to chat.

The menu includes the full range of Gibson’s branded prime steaks, and they are just as good as you would expect. But it’s the other dishes that impressed me most. The chef’s selection crudo was a wonderful starter: three sashimi preparations of tuna, kanpachi and fluke, with amazing and surprising accompaniments.

An off-menu salad of lettuce and herbs dressed in Meyer Lime vinaigrette was a perfect break before tackling the steak. For sides I couldn’t decide between the grilled romanesco and grilled asparagus, finally ordering the asparagus. To my surprise, my waiter also brought the romanesco so I could try it. Both were excellent.

I finished off with the affogato, which was served deconstructed, so you could add your own coffee to the ice cream. The coffee was laced with Averna, which imparted a delightful bitterness to offset the sweet ice cream. The homemade cookies that came with it were also amazing.

The wine list is also top notch. There’s a great variety, and some reasonable prices. The Morey Saint Denis I had was a gem.

I can’t ask for much more than the meal I had at Gibson’s, and it’s perhaps the first Chicago steakhouse I’ve been to that will keep drawing me back rather than always trying new ones. Highly recommended.

Gibsons Italia
233 N Canal St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 414-1100




Weekend special


Beef brisket with octopus

Kimchi and fried chicken ramen

**** (4 stars)

I enjoy a good bowl of ramen, and the Kimchi and Fried Chicken bowl I had here was a bit unique and tasty.

The star of the show, though, was the Okonomiyaki I started with. Described by my server as a Japanese pancake, it was more like a savory pile of great ingredients, including 18 hour beef brisket, tender braised octopus, a fried egg, and green onions, plus just the right amount of chili sauce. It was delicious. Sadly, it is only available on weekends, and before 3pm.

I rarely drink yellow beer, but I do like Asahi Super Dry, and it’s on tap here, and served in a frozen mug. A great accompaniment to the food.

Service was friendly and helpful, as I’ve experienced at all Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, and the ambiance is decent, with mostly rap music, but at a reasonable volume. If you’re by yourself, the bar is a great place to sit for full service.

59 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 377-9950

Kuma’s Corner

Jalapeno poppers

Kuma burger with impossible burger patty

**** (4 stars)

I’m factoring in the fact that this was delivered by DoorDash, so naturally some things, like fries, don’t travel that well.

I’ve had the Impossible Burger–that vegetable substitute that is almost identical to meat–at several places, and always enjoyed it. This version was about as good as I’ve had. It’s important to order it well or medium well so that it gets a nice caramelized crust.

I didn’t actually order the prefab version of it from Kuma’s because I wanted bacon (call me a hypocrite) and real cheddar cheese. So I ordered the Kuma Burger and chose the Impossible Burger as my patty. This was an expensive way to do it, because the Impossible patty is a $7 upcharge, but I got what I wanted, and it was delicious, with all the fixin’s just the way I like ’em.

I also tried the Jalapeno Poppers. These were large, thoroughly cleaned of seeds (so not spicy at all) and stuffed with a flavorful cream cheese concoction, then deep fried in panko batter. They weren’t oily at all, and reheated in the oven beautifully. The accompanying spicy jam was wonderful.

I don’t know if I would order delivery again, just because of the fragility of the food, but if in the neighborhood I would definitely stop in to Kuma’s Corner.

Kuma’s Corner
852 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 666-9090

Pink Taco

Cadillac Margarita



Pink tacos

House salad and corn

***** (5 stars)

This is my favorite taco place in River North, and I think I’ve tried just about all of them.

I started with the Cadillac Margarita, which came with a float of Gran Marnier. It was more than a float–it was an entire small bottle! The drink was excellent, but I don’t like my margaritas to be too sweet, so I added some limes to make it perfect.

A great place to start exploring the menu is the pink tacos, after all, they’re the restaurant’s supposed namesake (although we all know better). They were terrific. Obviously handmade corn tortillas were topped with a complex, slightly spicy chicken mixture and marinated onions with a slight habanero kick.

Note that you don’t have to get three of the same taco, although the menu sort of implies this. At $15 for three pink tacos at lunch they were worth it, particularly considering the two generous sides. I had the very good house salad, and an off-menu item recommended by my waitress, a half serving of the off-the-cob street corn, which was in a wonderfully savory cream sauce.

You might assume from its trendy interior that it would have a deafening soundtrack, but actually the music level is just right, at least at lunchtime, and the song choices are terrific.

Service is very attentive, and my server made great recommendations.

Highly recommended.

Pink Taco
431 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 212-5566

BIG & little’s Restaurant

Raw ahi tuna taco

Samurai taco


Deep fried grilled cheese

**** (4 stars)

In all fairness I ordered this food delivered, so I’m not going to comment on aspects that didn’t travel well (such as the fries), as I’m sure they’re much better at the restaurant.

What did travel well was the raw ahi tuna taco. The tuna was obviously excellent sushi grade, and the large chunks were still cold, and the fried taco shell crisp.

The other noteworthy item was the deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich. It was essentially fish and chips, except instead of fish there was a grilled cheese sandwich in there. The batter was nice and crisp, but I felt it needed a bit of seasoning, or perhaps the Swiss cheese version (rather than American cheese) is more flavorful.

The cheeseburger was a bit of a disappointment. It basically tasted exactly like a Big Mac.

I also sampled the Samurai fish taco, which was an okay combination of fried fish and pickled jalapenos on flour tortillas.

BIG & little’s Restaurant
860 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 943-0000