Unlike the dark ages of the early ’00s, you can now find decent fish tacos around Chicago. One of the best Baja-style versions is at La Lagartija on the Near West Side, but for the real deal, you still have to drive out to Glen Ellyn to try Chicks ‘n Salsa. If you’d like to try a more elegant riff on this beachside staple, you should also head to Province, in the West Loop. I love the menu here, and Chef Randy Zweiban still has a knack for combining Latin ingredients and infusing them with some textural contrasts. His fish taco is a winner: spice-seared ahi tuna, pickled vegetables and a masa dough that has just the smallest amount of pork fat in it to enrich the shell, all combine to make one of the best fish tacos I’ve had in awhile.
When Adam Seger called to suggest we do a “How To” on beertails, I thought, ‘you want to tell the tale of how beer came to be?’ But the Chicago mixologist, hum creator and bon vivant was talking about combining craft beer with handcrafted cocktails, a category of beverages I’ve only recently become aware of. So I met Seger over at Farmhouse, a new restaurant billing itself as “a Midwest Craft Tavern” he’s been consulting with, developing their drink program. He showed us how to make two beertails; one of which just might be the perfect candidate to replace the Bloody Mary for a Sunday morning pick-me-up.
In honor of the Chinese New Year (Year of the Dragon, in case you were wondering), we’re celebrating with TWO Something(s) You Should Eat this week, from one of my favorite little dim sum houses in Chinatown. At Shui Wah, there are no carts rumbling through the compact dining room, there simply isn’t room for them. Instead, you are presented with a small menu card, divided into “steamed,” “fried” and “baked” items. Two of my favorites include the classic steamed snack of cha siu bao (pork buns) and crispy, fried calamari strips dusted in chili salt. All dim sum houses offer the former, but only Shui wah – as far as I know – makes the latter. Gong Hay Fat Choy!
In the short time Longman & Eagle has been open in Logan Square, its already nabbed a Michelin star, had several appearances on national TV programs like “Unique Eats,” and has become one of the city’s preeminent sources for brown liquors. Bartender Derek Alexander is particularly fond of Rittenhouse rye, and has come up with a drink that seems to suit all of my needs when it comes to sublime sipping. He calls is “Right Up My Alley,” and I couldn’t agree more.
“Right Up My Alley”
by Derek Alexander, Longman & Eagle
2 oz. Rittenhouse Rye
½ oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
½ oz Cynar
½ oz Bonal Gentiane-quina
2-3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Combine all ingredients in tall glass, add ice. Stir with bar spoon for at least a minute, checking dilution to your liking. Strain into a rocks glass.
Greg Hall is sporting his usual (ahem, casual) look: untucked shirt, full beard, slightly disheveled hair, but make no mistake, he’s 100% focused on his next project. The former Brewmaster of Goose Island – the company his father, John started – left the company after it was sold last year to Anheuser-Busch, and started Virtue Brands. His new passion: cider. The fermented beverage has been popular for decades in Europe (some of the best comes from Normandy), and Hall is hoping he can convince Chicagoans that his Redstreak English style draft cider is the next big thing. Read More
This week, The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper again stays within the U.S. (what, no Belgian Mike?) for his BoTW. It’s courtesy Garrett Oliver’s employer, the Brooklyn Brewery. Dessert fans who eschew late-harvest riesling and ice wine, and long for a good beer to go with their cake, ganache or tart, you’re in luck: here’s a limited-release beer that will have you toasting the end of your meal with nary a wine glass in sight. Cheers.