Sky Full of Bacon

Duckballs in Bucktown

Pisco Sour at The Bristol.

Two meals in Bucktown/Logan Square:


The Bristol
I’ve eaten at The Bristol three times. I wasn’t wild about brunch but the two dinners were both excellent, a dish with duck egg and orange sauce nearly made my ten best last year. So I was a bit mystified by a recent dinner that just… well, it was a dinner for somebody else, not me. Everything I ordered was well crafted, interesting, subtly flavored, but I just sat there admiring it without liking it. It was like the food someone else would have chosen, who has a completely different idea of what’s good to eat. This is a well-constructed salad of apples, celery root and manchego cheese, but I chewed it like it was cud:

This was a tete de veau (veal headcheese, though the staff uniformly called it tete de vous, Head of You) with a nicely bitter salad and… get ready for this one… fried duck testicles. Of course. When the server described them as “fried and just adding a little creaminess,” I said “You should have let it go at fried duck testicles.”

Anyway, I ate ’em, and they were probably the best part in a fried organ meaty kind of way (though I found the variation in size alarming); the tete though, served quite cold, just didn’t have a lot of flavor, especially after the excellent similar one at Big Jones a week or two ago. I know health regs require stuff like this to be kept cold, but I wish there was some subtle way to bring it up to room temperature before serving; I can’t believe it would be served slab-in-the-morgue cold like this in France.

The last thing I had was ravioli stuffed with peas, topped with diced bits of sugar snaps and basil and lemon confit. This is the sort of hyperseasonal straight-from-the-farmer’s-market dish I’d be all over, so I was really surprised that this didn’t really do it for me either; it was almost too brightly green, too basil-y and lemon-y and spring-y. Too many notes, young Mozart, too many notes.  Yet Mark Mendez tweeted about this dish rapturously. [NOTE: correction in comments]

I’ve argued in the past against the idea that somebody blogging about food night after night, taking each meal as it comes, has to stick to the Phil Vettel rules of trying a place multiple times before laying down your verdict for all time; I’m capturing each moment in time as it happens, and always subject to revision. But this was the kind of moment in time that argues for multiple visits; I’m not suggesting that The Bristol has gone downhill at all, everything represented obvious skill and care, but we just didn’t click, The Bristol and I, that night, the way we have before.

Longman & Eagle

I popped into Longman & Eagle after an event that didn’t wind up feeding me (the nerve!). It was packed, I grabbed a half seat wedged between some guys at the bar and, well, the actual brass bar next to the drink ordering computer.  Just enough room to try two things: some grilled sardines with a nice char, and a dish that was so good, I had to stop during the first bite and just sit there, savoring it, as the music on the iPod went skee-ratch! and the whole room froze and a hole in the space time continuum burst open, revealing my past life as Zarxis, Avenger King of the Mindanites.

It was a tete de cochon, covered with the frankly getting a bit ubiquitous if not ridiculous egg (duck, I believe).  But it was roasted with a Chinese-y tart mustard glaze, and accompanied by some brightly vinegary onion; imagine the best stray bits of pork meat assemblage from Mado, trucked to Sun Wah for them to glaze and roast Chinese BBQ style.  Voluptuous and bright and hot and tart all at once, the only thing against this was that it’s too much of a rich thing for one person to eat all of, but if you’re going there with anyone at all, assuming you can find more than half a place to sit, it’s a thing you have to have.

*  *  *

Next week I’ll be guest-blogging at Grub Street, come on by!

If you like this post and would like to receive updates from this blog, please subscribe our feed. Subscribe via RSS

Comments are closed.