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Vettel Fires Off Another Four Stars at Next The Hunt; Reader Rounds Up Some New Joints For You

Dessert at Next: The Hunt.

Dessert at Next: The Hunt.Photo: Nick Kindelsperger/courtesy Serious Eats Chicago

Next: The Hunt wins four stars for Next from Phil Vettel, continuing a streak broken only by three stars for Next Thai, and Vettel reels off what delighted him: "The first course arrives in a glass box, a mini-terrarium filled with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, garlic, shallots and herbs, and guests are invited to spear the edible prey using silver French walnut picks (alongside, in wooden bowls, is a fragrant cremini-mushroom consomme with a sweet hint of Madeira)... The squab is the menu's centerpiece, and a delicious lesson in beak-to-tail preparation and consumption. Squab breast, leg and even head are on the plate (the brain is rather tasty), along with a dough-wrapped package of innards (think offal en croute) and a sauce of squab jus, cognac and red wine. It's deliriously good. On the table is a bowl bearing roasted carcass pieces — not a lot of meat on these bones, but tasty to gnaw regardless — which you are encouraged, nay, expected, to plunder." So what does it all mean after seven reviews of seven Next menus? We don't get a sweeping conclusion. [Tribune]

Otherwise it's a thin week for reviews, nothing at the Sun-Times or Time Out Chicago (who did a double issue last week), though besides its main review, the Reader works through a bunch of smaller places which are worth hearing about. Go fill yourself on novel Pakistani dishes not found on Devon at Schaumburg's Pepper and Salt, Mike Sula says, including "six different biryanis, a dozen vegetable curries, 13 meat curries, kabobs, breads, (including the uncommon saffron spiced sheermal), and snackier things like samosas, chat, and the pictured Franky Roll. The latter is often compared to the "Bombay burrito," aka the kati (or kathi) roll." [Reader]

Sula also says the online hype that apparently flooded Edgewater's Dak with business before it was even officially open is justifed; "At Dak, you have two options: a spicy barbecue variety slathered in a sticky-sweet, not-very-hot chile sauce, or an even sweeter soy-garlic variety (both can certainly be amped up with squirts of gochuchang or rooster sauce). You will tangle with them, though they're not fried particularly hard, and the sauce tends to degrade the crispiness of the skin. When you're done you will need to hose down. Think of it as a refreshing shower after an invigorating workout." [Reader]

Sam Worley is a bit baffled by waffle sandwiches and wraps at Bel 50: "The vexing thing is that there's nothing distinctive about these waffles, which are wrapped, taco style, around their fillings. They are no more or less than a vehicle to encase the fillings, which are generally pretty good—fresh, and not too heavy. The menu features the sort of decent middlebrow selection you see in other sandwich places that don't sub waffles for bread: barbecued pulled pork, a Reuben, smoked salmon with chive creme fraiche, prosciutto and Brie with fig jam. Short rib with horseradish is pleasingly tender, and the red wine it's been braised in lends it a nice astringent note. Then it's served on a waffle." [Reader]

Kate Schmidt points you to Pide ve Lahmacun, a new Turkish cafe specializing in this Turkish variant on pizza: "Lahmacun is a thin flatbread topped with beef and lamb and served with lemon, a little pile of parsley, and sumac-sprinkled raw onion. As with a New York-style slice, this can be rolled up and eaten on the run, though given its size—one covers the plate—you might want to sit down down and share it with someone. In fact, at $3.50 per flatbread, this would be one of the cheapest dinner dates imaginable." [Reader]

And Julia Thiel has good things to say about L'Patron, the new taco joint on Diversey in Logan Square, which everyone but Michael Nagrant seems to like: "The steak in a carne asada burrito was nicely pink on the inside and lightly charred on the outside, and little touches like the bright green lettuce—no iceberg here—and the light grilling of the tortilla were also nice. From a strong lineup, the house special stood out: the Gringa is a sort of cross between a quesadilla and a taco, with flavorful al pastor (marinated pork with caramelized onions and pineapple) and Chihuahua cheese sandwiched between two thick hand-made tortillas. (You can also get it with skirt steak, in which case it's called the Gringo.) This may be simple food, but all the ingredients are fresh and top-notch; there's no need for fancifying here." [Reader]

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